Brian Williams gave his first sit-down interview since being suspended from NBC Nightly News, and addressed claims that he misrepresented events that occurred while he was out in the field reporting for 10 years.
"I said things that weren't true," he admitted to Today show co-anchor Matt Lauer.
Williams first came under fire
when it was discovered that he made untrue statements about being bombed while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. After a review by NBC Universal
, it was determined that over the a 10-year span he made several other inaccurate statements to his experiences in the field.
"It has been torture," he said of being suspended. "Looking back, it has been absolutely necessary. I have discovered a lot of things. 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 recalled being in the center of a media circus
, and insisted that he's now taking responsibility for his actions.
"I was reading these newspaper stories, not liking the person I was reading about, wanting -- I would have given anything to get to the end of the story and have it be about someone else, but it was about me," he said. "These statements I made, I own this; I own up to this and I have to go through and see and try to figure out how it happened."
Williams also shed some light as to why he made untrue statements in the first place.
"It had to have been ego that made me think I had to be sharper, funnier, quicker than anybody else,'' he said. "I told the story correctly for years, before I told it incorrectly. I was not trying to mislead people, (and) that to me is a huge difference. It came from a bad place. It came from a sloppy choice of words. I told stories that were not true. Over the years, looking back, it is very clear I never intended to. It got mixed up, it got turned around, in my mind."
NBC announced Thursday that Lester Holt will be replacing Williams
permanently as anchor of the Nightly News,
while Williams will join MSNBC, where he was an anchor from 1196-2004. He is to begin that role in mid-August.
"I'm sorry,'' Williams said in a statement. "I said things that weren't true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I'm determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on Nightly News, but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor."