Brian Williams says his downfall as one of the most powerful men in news was the same thing that has brought down so many others: an out-of-control ego.
The former NBC Nightly News anchor, who was suspended from his post after several inaccurate statements and fallacies about his involvement in newsworthy incidents were uncovered, said that while he never lied on the news itself, his desire to put himself “closer to the action” led him to greatly exaggerate anecdotes during appearances on late-night television shows and other non-news programs.
“I am sorry,” Williams told Matt Lauer during an interview for the Today Show. “I am sorry for what happened. I am different as a result, and I expect to be held to a different standard.”
“Looking back, it had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else, put myself closer to the action, having been at the action at the beginning,” he said.
“After work, when I got out of the building, got out of that (news) realm, I used a double standard,” he said. “Something changed, something was sloppier. I said things that weren’t true. Looking back, that is plain… This came from a bad place, a bad urge inside me. This was clearly ego-driven, a desire to better my role in a story I was already in.”
“I told stories that were wrong. It was not from a place where I was trying to use my job and title to mislead… I got it wrong. I own this. And I own up to this.”
“I was reading these newspaper stories, not liking the person I was reading about, wanting — I would have given anything to get to the end of the story and have it be about someone else, but it was about me,” he said. “These statements I made, I own this; I own up to this, and I have to go through and see and try to figure out how it happened.”
Williams was suspended for six months while NBC launched an internal investigation on claims he exaggerated experiences while covering the Iraq War. The network has named Lester Holt as Williams’ permanent replacement in the Nightly News anchor chair. Williams has been demoted to covering breaking news and special reports on cable news network MSNBC.