Brian Williams: The past five months have been "torture"

Jun 19, 2015 2:37 PM by News Staff, Photo: NBC

Brian Williams said the past five months have been "torture" in his first interview since getting suspended from NBC "Nightly News."

The longtime evening news anchor sat down with NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer this week for an extensive interview that aired Friday morning -- one that Lauer said would be without "guidelines or restrictions."

As a result, Williams, 56, gets candid about the difficult times he's experienced since the media fallout.

The interview comes after NBCUniversal launched an investigation into Williams' reporting and commentary, which found that he made inaccurate statements about his role and experiences in covering events in the field, including a military helicopter he was traveling in during the Iraq war.

"Looking back, it has been absolutely necessary. I have discovered a lot of things," he said. "I have been listening to and watching what amounts to the black box recordings from my career. I've gone back through everything -- basically 20 years of public utterances."

Williams said he owns up to the statements he made and has also had "to try to figure out how it happened."

"It has been a time of realization, trying to find out in me what changed," he said, pointing out how he apparently had a different standard after he left the confines of the workplace.

"I used a double standard, something changed. And I was sloppier," said Williams, who -- before the suspension -- had been a regular visitor to TV talk shows. "And I said things that weren't true."

"It had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else,'' he said.

About the inflated Iraqi helicopter story, Williams said, "I told the story correctly for years, before I told it incorrectly," he said. "I was not trying to mislead people. That to me is a huge difference here...It came from a bad place. It came from a sloppy choice of words. I told stories that were not true. Looking back, over the years, looking back, it is very clear I never intended to. It got mixed up, it got turned around in my mind."

When Lauer asked Williams if there were any other incidents in which "he didn't tell the whole truth" that he wanted to come clean about, Williams said, "I would like to take the opportunity to say what has happened in the past has been identified and torn apart by me and has been fixed," before later adding, "I am sorry for what happened here. I am different as a result and I expect to be held to a different standard.

NBC announced Thursday that Lester Holt, who has been filling in for "Evening News," will stay on as the permanent anchor of the broadcast. Starting in August, Williams will work as contributor to MSNBC.

NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke said that "this matter has been extensively analyzed and deliberated on by NBC. We are moving forward."

As for Williams, he said, "I'm very happy to be coming back. First of all, I'm happy to have a job. I'm happy to work. I'm very fortunate to be able to go back to NBC."

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Most Popular