BriWi Makes a Boo-Boo

NBC anchor Brian Williams has gained a reputation for being a smart, hip, funny kind of broadcaster. His frequent appearances on Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show and other comedy shows have raised his visibility as a different brand of newsman. So, when Gawker recently published a personal email between him and website founder Nick Denton criticizing both Gawker as a website AND a recent performer on NBC’s own SNL, we took notice.

From: “Williams, BD (NBCUniversal)”
Date: January 15, 2012 15:56:25 EST


I hope you’re well. Happy New Year. A big congratulations to the new freelance weekend guy, Taylor Bernam. He’s done some good posts right out of the box. I do wish the main page featured more TV coverage (Brooklyn hippster [sic] Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history last night — booked on the strength of her TWO SONG web EP, the least-experienced musical guest in the show’s history, for starters). In my humble opinion as a loyal customer (you know I love you but the Blog View button will be the eventual cause of my death) and while I know you’re in the midst of an editor change, weekends have been allowed to go awfully fallow — and it was a fallow holiday period for those of us who check your shit 10 times a day by iphone. I know you’ve been watching NBC Nightly News religiously each evening and I’ll no doubt be getting a withering, detailed critique from you straight away.


As you can imagine, NBC had a hissy fit and emailed Gawker asking that they take the post down. Naturally, Gawker published that email, too.

From: M., Erika (NBCUniversal)
To: Gawker
Sent: Mon Jan 16 12:26:59 2012
Subject: Brian Williams

Can you please have the post of Brian Williams’ email to Nick Denton taken down immediately? That was sent in confidence as friends and absolutely never intended to be public. A speedy removal would go a long way in maintaining the trust and respect we have for your site.

My guess is that having your respected newsman use potty language and badmouth his own network didn’t go over very well. NBC confirms that Williams never intended the email to be public, he was just emailing his buddy,  Denton. Which, by the way, Gawker doesn’t deny. They freely admit they published the personal email from Williams and that he and Denton email “like a couple of gossiping secretaries.” Did Gawker betray the trust of Williams? Bottom line: Williams should know better. There is no eight-second delay in the world of email. If you screw up and get in trouble, you can’t fix it in post. And does he really think that a publisher with the rep of Denton would ACTUALLY have his back?

We have reached out to NBC for a comment on the situation.