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Brian Williams signs off from NBC after 28 years

The longtime anchor departs the network with “28 years, 38 countries, 8 Olympic games, 7 presidential elections, half a dozen presidents, a few wars and one SNL” under his belt.
Brian Williams gestures at the camera while reporting behind an anchor desk with a red and blue background.
Brian Williams anchors MSNBC's "The 11th Hour" on March 28, 2017.Nathan Congleton / NBC News
/ Source: TODAY

MSNBC host and former “NBC Nightly News” anchor and managing editor Brian Williams signed off for the last time at NBC on Thursday evening.

Williams concluded his nightly MSNBC Show “The 11th Hour” with a look back at his 28 years with the network.

In his on-air goodbye, Williams also warned against extremism in the country.

"The truth is I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist," he said. "I believe in this place and my love of country I yield to no one. But the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar, and the bowling alley at the school board in the grocery store."

He also lambasted elected officials he thinks have "joined the mob" and who have "decided to burn it all down with us inside."

Williams’ departure was exactly one month after news broke that he planned to leave the company.

MSNBC President Rashida Jones said in a note to staff that Williams would leave at the end of the year to “spend time with his family.”

She added that Williams broke “countless” major stories and attracted top journalists to his programs. 

In his November note to colleagues, Williams wrote that “good friends were in great supply at NBC. I was fortunate that everyone I worked with made me better at my job.”

While the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” in 2015, Williams inaccurately told a story about a helicopter he was riding in being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. He was suspended by the network and following the suspension, moved to MSNBC.

At the time, Williams apologized on-air and said he had “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.”

Lester Holt then took over as the main anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

Williams has not spoken publicly about his plans going forward but in his November note to NBC staff, he wrote that he has much he hopes to do and expects he will “pop up again somewhere.”

In his farewell on Thursday night, he echoed that sentiment.

"I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you (the viewer) and lights and cameras," he said. "After I experiment with relaxation and find out what I've missed and what's out there."

He also thanked staff and crew who worked with him over the years and his longtime audience.

"Every weeknight for decades now, I've said some version of the same thing: 'Thank you for being here with us,'" he concluded. "Us, meaning the people who produce this broadcast for you. And you...Well, without you, there is no us.

"I'll show myself out until we meet again. That is our broadcast for this Thursday night. Thank you for being here with us. And for all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, goodnight."