Brian Williams, who remade his career as an MSNBC host after losing his job as NBC “Nightly News” anchor for making false claims about a wartime story, is leaving the network after 28 years. Williams said in a note to colleagues that “following much reflection,” he had decided to exit when his contract ends in December.
“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another,” Williams wrote. “There are many things I want to do, and I'll pop up again somewhere.”
Willliams, 62, said he will take a few months off to spend time with his family.
Williams was NBC News' top anchor from 2004 until 2015, when he was suspended for falsely claiming that he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War. A subsequent investigation found that he had made other inaccurate statements about his experiences covering events, and he lost the job.
He was later given the 11 p.m. hour at MSNBC, which he turned into a fast-moving, entertaining newscast summing up the day's news.
At the height of his career on the main newscast of the main network, Williams made a crossing few journalists have: into pop culture. Williams hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2007 and made several cameos on the NBC sitcom "30 Rock."
He also made regular appearances on Jimmy Fallon's late night shows as he would "Slow Jam The News." Fallon also cut up clips of Williams from "Nightly News" and would put them to music to make Williams appear to rap.
Williams marks the latest high-profile change for NBC News and, more specifically, MSNBC.
After rumors that she was going depart, MSNBC's top rated host, Rachel Maddow, signed a multi-year extension with NBCUniversal in August. But it came with reports that Maddow could be leaving her nightly 9 p.m. ET show within the next year.
Earlier this year, Kasie Hunt departed MSNBC for CNN. Hunt served as a Capitol Hill correspondent before hosting gigs on her Sunday night "Kasie D.C." show followed by the weekday morning "Way Too Early" program preceding "Morning Joe."
MSNBC finished fifth in the cable ratings last week, the Nielsen company said Tuesday, falling behind ESPN, Fox News Channel, Paramount and the Hallmark Channel.