How Brian Williams Made It Through The Controversy That Almost Ended His Career

brian williams 11th hour msnbc

Back in January 2015, it was life as usual for the esteemed news anchor Brian Williams, who was the then-host of NBC's Nightly News. But then in February, he publicly admitted and apologized about falsely reporting an incident he was involved in during the Iraq War. It's 32 months later now, and Williams is now the host of MSNBC's The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, which is a winner for the network. The newscaster has opened up about that controversy and how every day is another one spent trying to regain viewers' trust. In his words:

You emerge from it a different and changed person, especially given what I put everyone here through, and my friends and family, so every day is a new day on that front. [Being able to work] was the best medicine. [MSNBC's The 11th Hour] is one piece in a piecing-together of things that has entailed asking viewers for their trust and their support one at a time. I regard every one of our viewers as a friend and a customer of ours, and I regard that bond very seriously.

That's certainly a humbling-sounding situation, and it makes a lot of sense. While arguably not quite as revered as a newscaster like Dan Rather, Brian Williams was one of the most respected personalities in the news game, especially in the oversaturated 24-hour news cycle world. But after he was outed for having heavily altered his 2003 Iraq War helicopter story, the curtain was pulled back a little more on other exaggerations and inaccuracies he was guilty of making, which definitely sullied a lot of people's opinions about him. In that situation, the best thing for Williams to do during and after his suspension was just to keep apologizing and to get swallowed up by his work while taking every effort to show others that he remains worthy of trust and respect.

And if The 11th Hour's numbers are anything to go by, it looks like MSNBC viewers have come back around to embracing Brian Williams on their TVs. Since its debut just over a year ago, The 11th Hour proved popular enough to expand from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, and it is now the big winner during its 11 p.m. ET timeslot. For the third quarter of 2017, the show was #1 in total viewers for the second straight quarter, while also taking over the top spot in the key news demo of 25-54 year olds.

Of course, Brian Williams does still have his detractors. And during his interview with Variety, he was asked if he thought someone might bring his past foibles up on the air during an 11th Hour interview.

I suppose that's a risk. I have to hope the relationships I have with the folks watching and a lifetime spent trying to be their advocate and trying to provide them a safe harbor. I hope that counts in that instance.

Tune into The 11th Hour at 11:00 p.m. ET nightly on MSNBC. And to see what else is coming to your TVs in the near future, hit up our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.