- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2021

Journalist Brian Williams signed off from “The 11th Hour” late Thursday night after 28 years with NBC, warning his viewers about Trump supporters whom he accused of spreading “darkness” across America.

The 62-year-old television journalist, who reinvented himself as host of the 11 p.m. MSNBC show after being fired from NBC “Nightly News” for making false comments about his wartime coverage, described Trump supporters who occupied the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as arsonists who wanted “to burn it all down with us inside.”

“That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman,” he said.

Mr. Williams also said Trump supporters have spread “the darkness on the edge of town” to “the main roads and highways and neighborhoods, the local bar, the bowling alley, the school board and the grocery store.”

Addressing his political preferences, the longtime anchor described himself as an “institutionalist” rather than a liberal or conservative.

Presidential historians Michael Beschloss and Jon Meacham and Democratic political strategist James Carville were among the guests who appeared on Mr. Williams’ final show.

Mr. Beschloss said the anchor “made this country better” by giving Americans a nightly “course in civics and democracy” while speaking “truth to power in the best democratic tradition.”

In his final remarks, Mr. Williams compared himself to George Bailey, the main character played by James Stewart in Frank Capra’s beloved holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s as if I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning in Bedford Falls,” Mr. Williams said. “The reality is, though, I will wake up tomorrow in the America of the year 2021, a nation unrecognizable to those who came before us and fought to protect it, which is what you must do now.”

Serving as the top anchor at NBC News from 2004 until 2015, Mr. Williams was suspended from that job for falsely alleging that he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire while on a reporting assignment during the Iraq War. He then lost his position permanently after an investigation revealed he had made other inaccurate statements about his news coverage over the years.

Moving to MSNBC in 2016, he expanded the pace and coverage of “The 11th Hour,” offering a nightly summary of the day’s news.

Mr. Williams announced in early November that, “after much reflection,” he would step down at the end of his current contract to spend more time with his family.

In his farewell on Thursday night, he briefly addressed his journalistic record and said he will “probably find it impossible to be silent” for long.

“As a proud New Jersey native, this is where I get to say, ‘Regrets? I’ve had a few. But, then again, too few to mention,’” Mr. Williams said, quoting from the Frank Sinatra hit “My Way.”

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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