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One year in to his 11th Hour on MSNBC and Brian Williams is ready to declare “it may turn out to be the best job I’ve ever had.”
Williams is profiled by Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox about the scandal that yanked him from the top of NBC News to the last hour of MSNBC’s cable day, an 11 p.m. show that began as an experiment; what Williams calls a “self-canceling pop-up show.”
“I was mostly very excited and hopeful to be back in the game,” he said.
The path to The 11th Hour, which has been winning its timeslot, was an extension of Williams’s role as MSNBC’s breaking news anchor which he began a year earlier following his removal from Nightly News and a 6-month suspension for telling and re-telling the story of being in a helicopter that came under fire during his coverage of the Iraq War in 2003. A story which turned out not to be true.
Williams spent “the troubles” (as he calls it) doing a lot of reflection, and talking “to the kinds of people in the America I grew up in.” He drove across the country and took advantage of the opportunity to get re-certified as a firefighter. In fact, one of the only public appearances he made during his suspension was a fund-raiser for his New Jersey alma mater, Mater Dei Prep. “They’re all me and it’s home. It took me 30 years to discover what’s written in thousands of books. I’m happiest when I’m home.”
“This is a different muscle group, a different skill set, and I think this is using all my cylinders, all my wiring, the way I came out of the factory,” Williams says. “It’s the best use of the meager skills God gave me.”
“Second acts are possible,” Williams says, “with a little spiffing up.”