Brian Williams warns of darkness spreading during final broadcast as NBC anchor

After 28 years as an anchor with NBC networks, Brian Williams called it quits on Thursday during his MSNBC show The 11th Hour. While his final episode was filled with old colleagues and recurring guests celebrating his career and paying him lip service, his final message was filled with warning.

“My biggest worry is for my country,” Williams said. “I'm not a liberal or a conservative. I'm an institutionalist. I believe in this place. And in my love of my country I yield to no one, but the darkness on the edge of town has spread to roads and highways and neighborhoods.”

“Grown men and women who swore an oath to our constitution, elected by our constituents, possessing the kinds of college degrees I can only dream of have decided to join the mob and become something they are not, hoping we somehow forget who they were,” Williams continued. “They've decided to burn it all down with us inside. That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman.”

While Williams made it clear he has no immediate plans post-MSNBC, he did leave the door open for a possible return to television at some point. He said, “I will probably find it impossible to be silent and stay away from you and lights and cameras after I experiment with relaxation and find out what I've missed and what's out there.”

Williams’s career as a journalist has been tumultuous towards the end. While anchor for NBC’s flagship Nightly News, he was suspended and ultimately reassigned for exaggerating a harrowing helicopter ride in Iraq. Despite the professional setback, he is one of the more beloved anchors of the past 20 years. The mash-up raps of his from The Tonight Show have garnered tens of millions clicks online.

“As a proud New Jersey native, this is where I get to say, regrets, I've had a few, too few to mention,” Williams said in his final minutes on the show. “What a ride it's been. Where else, how else was a kid like me going to meet presidents and kings and the occasional rock star?”

The 11th Hour With Brian Williams aired weeknights at 11 p.m. on MSNBC.

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