Brian Williams Keeps a “Smart Head” in an “Unforgiving Place”

By Chris Ariens 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Brian Williams is a bigamist, but his wife doesn’t mind.

Flying from Dubai to Afghanistan Tuesday, the very-married NBC anchorman and his senior producer, Subrata De, pretended to be husband and wife.


De suggested the quickie wedding in hopes of protecting her primo seat from male Afghan passengers with entitlement issues. Sure enough, a confrontation ensued. De held her ground. And her seat.

For the record, Williams and his wife, Jane, a former producer, celebrated their 22nd anniversary Sunday. They have two children.

“Luckily, Jane and Subrata know each other well,” Williams writes in an email yesterday from Kabul, where phone service is sketchy.

“Jane got a chuckle out of it and actually wants me to post a photo of Subrata so people can see who she is! In addition to producing my field work, she takes all the photos for my blog.

“And she makes a great pretend wife.”

What is not pretend is the tight security for Williams’ trip. He’s not complaining. In 2003, he spent two frightening nights in the Iraq desert after enemy fire forced down his U.S. Army Chinook helicopter.

(Photo: Subrata De/NBC. Kabul, June 11, 2008)

On this trek, “you can’t help but be reminded of the security issue constantly. The mere presence of our security detail is something to get used to. A simple drive across town isn’t simple anymore. It’s just not good to linger anywhere for too long.”

Though NBC News brass “could name a ton of places they’d rather I visit” than Afghanistan, they “were very supportive and didn’t flinch at the logistics or expense,” according to Williams.

Still, Williams will feel better when he comes under the protection of the U.S. military later in the trip, in Iraq, he writes. No exact date, since his advance travel schedule is under wraps.

“They take very good care of visiting journalists… We just try to go about our jobs and keep a smart head despite the jet lag, which can make you goofy and forgetful and less than sharp.” (Afghanistan is 8 hours and 30 minutes ahead of New York time.)

After four visits to Iraq, “I just thought it was time I came here and brought whatever power I have to focus … attention on this conflict and these Americans who volunteered to come to this unforgiving place.”