Brian Williams has signed off from MSNBC for the last time, giving viewers a piece of his mind on the state of the nation.
The anchor, 62, hosted his final episode of “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” Thursday evening, closing out his 28-year tenure at the network.
During his goodbye, the anchor gave a stern warning about the future of America saying that his “biggest worry is for my country.”
“I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place and in my love of country. I yield to no one. But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to main roads.” Williams said. “Grown men and women who swore an oath to our constitution, elected by their constituents … have decided to join the mob and become something they are not.”
“That should scare you to no end,” he said.
The anchor added that he will wake up tomorrow in an America “unrecognizable” by those who came before him to fight for the country while also sending his “love and thanks” to colleagues, friends, family and viewers.
“I’ll show myself out, until we meet again,” Williams said. “That is our broadcast for this Thursday night. Thank you for being here with us.”
With Williams’ departure, MSNBC’s schedule for Friday includes the premiere of MSNBC Films documentary “Paper & Glue” in Williams’ spot. Beginning Monday, “The 11th Hour” will welcome a rotating cast of guest hosts.
William shared the news of his departure from the network exactly a month prior in a memo to NBC staffers obtained by USA TODAY, revealing that “following much reflection,” he has decided to leave the network when his contract ends at the end of December.
“I have been truly blessed,” Williams wrote. “I have been allowed to spend almost half of my life with one company. NBC is a part of me and always will be.”
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Throughout his time at NBC, Williams covered eight Olympic games and seven presidential elections. He was on air for the launch of MSNBC in 1996 and anchored “NBC Nightly News” from 2004 to 2015. He launched his own show “The 11th Hour With Brian Williams” in 2016.
“Good friends were in great supply at NBC,” he added. “I was fortunate that everyone I worked with made me better at my job. I’ve had the best colleagues imaginable. That includes great bosses.”
Williams was NBC News’ top anchor for roughly a decade until 2015, when he was temporarily 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. Lester Holt succeeded Williams as anchor of “Nightly News.”
Williams 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. In his memo Tuesday Williams said he was as proud what “The 11th Hour” accomplished “as the decade I spent anchoring Nightly News.”
Previously:Brian Williams to depart NBC after 28 years: ‘End of a chapter and beginning of another’
Williams wrote in his memo that he’ll spend the next few months “with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen.”
“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere,” he added. “I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward.”
MSNBC President Rashida Jones wrote in the memo obtained by USA TODAY last month that Williams’ NBC career “has been marked by breaking countless major stories, attracting leading journalists and guests to his programs, and most especially, great resiliency.”
“Our viewers will miss his penetrating questions and thoughtful commentary,” she added.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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