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Outgoing MSNBC host ‘Lyin” Brian Williams is said to be in talks for a new gig at ABC or a streaming service after quitting his role amid claims he was upset by a paycut and insufficient mollycoddling.
Williams, 62, announced he would be leaving his $7 million-a-year gig at the network after nearly 30 years when his contract expires at the end of December. His decision behind his departure is said to have been caused by an impending pay cut, as well as claims that bosses were failing ‘to look after him.’
‘You’ve got to take care of the talent,’ one source close to Williams said. ‘He’ll probably go to a streaming service next, he wants to do his own things.’
Williams’ alleged unhappiness comes six years after his career almost ended in disgrace after he was exposed as a liar who’d faked war tales while covering Iraq.
And while he is technically not allowed to be negotiating with rival networks or streaming service while still employed, it is believed that Williams has held informal talks with ABC and CNN.
ABC currently has stars David Muir and George Stephanopoulos on its books, while CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, is believed to have a close relationship with Williams.
‘Whatever his new job is, it is not going to be at 11 o’clock,’ added the source of Williams in a suggestion that he is keen to get back to prime time. ‘This is his last swing at-bat. He’s going to do this right.’
Brian Williams, who remade his career as an MSNBC host after losing his job as NBC Nightly News anchor for making false claims about a wartime story, is leaving the network
Brian Williams is seen in 2005 marking his first anniversary in the anchor chair at NBC Nightly News after taking over for Tom Brokaw
Those close to the former ‘Nightly News’ anchor insist that he may even want to return to the entertainment and comedy business, where he made a name for himself in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
‘People forget that Brian is really funny, he’s always wanted to do an interview show that gives him room to have fun,’ the same source close to Williams said. ‘He likes to do profiles and interviews — even though that is what got him into trouble.’
‘He was a regular on the late-night chat shows over the years, showing off his comic chops, and telling his “misremembered” stories.’
Williams replaced legendary NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw in 2004 and held the coveted position until 2015 – when he was 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.
He was later given the 11pm hour at MSNBC, which he turned into a fast-moving, entertaining newscast summing up the day’s news.
However, Williams ‘saw the writing on the wall’ as his contract was running down and now feels like he can get ‘one more shot’ elsewhere, although his hefty salary might be a problem for some networks.
For now, he’s decided to spend time with his family after his contract expires.
‘For the next few months, I’ll be with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen. I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward,’ Williams said in the statement.
Williams began broadcasting his current show, The 11th Hour, shortly before the 2016 presidential election. His current contract will lapse at the end of 2021
Brian Williams and wife, Jane, are seen arriving at the Obama White House in 2009 for a State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Williams and his wife Jane have two adult children, including actress Alison Howell Williams, who gained acclaim on the HBO series Girls.
Brian Williams began broadcasting his current show, The 11th Hour, shortly before the 2016 presidential election. His current contract expires at the end of 2021.
Williams got his start in broadcast journalism at KOAM-TV in Kansas, and worked his way up to bigger markets before landing a job at New York’s WCBS in 1997.
The newsman joined NBC News in 1993 as chief White House correspondent, also anchoring the weekend nightly news.
Following Tom Brokaw’s retirement in 2004, Williams took over the top job at NBC News, anchoring the weekday national news broadcast.
He won praise early on for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, including harsh criticism of the Bush administration over failures in the government’s response.
Under Williams, NBC Nightly News consistently led in the ratings, beating rival broadcasts from ABC and CBS. Williams was showered in plaudits, including 12 Emmy Awards.
Over the years, however, there were numerous incidents in which Williams was accused of embellishing or fabricating details of certain events.
In 2008, for example, conflicting accounts called into question his statement that he was at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall ‘the night the wall came down.
Brian Williams prepares for the nightly news broadcast in 2005. He won praise early on for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina, including harsh criticism of the Bush administration
NBC News anchor Brian Williams with American military, reported from Camp Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq on March 8, 2007. Williams’ accounts of his time in Iraq have been questioned after he made claims to have flown into Baghdad with SEAL Team Six, which was contradicted by a Special Operations official who said that the SEALs do not embed journalists
He also once claimed to have flown into Baghdad with SEAL Team Six, which was contradicted by a Special Operations official who said that the SEALs do not embed journalists.
These and similar questionable incidents flew under the radar for the most part, until Williams in 2015 was forced to apologize and recant for telling a disproven story about his experiences in the Iraq War.
He had claimed on a Nightly News broadcast that he was on a military helicopter in Iraq that was ‘forced down after being hit by an RPG’.
Tape of the original reporting from the incident in 2003 showed Williams saying that the helicopter traveling ahead of him had been targeted by an RPG and forced to make an emergency landing.
The story evolved over the years in multiple retellings, but soldiers aboard the helicopter Williams was traveling in said that no rocket-propelled grenades had been fired at that specific aircraft.
In a public statement announcing Williams’ suspension, then NBCUniversal Chairman Steve Burke said: ‘By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.’
Lester Holt took over for Williams as Nightly News anchor, and remains in that position to this day.
Meanwhile, Ali Velshi and Tom Llamas are two names that have been floated as possible replacements for Williams at 11 p.m. at MSNBC.
DailyMail.com has contacted both Williams’ representatives and MSNBC for comment.
Source: Daily Mail