In the midst of these accusations that I have been untruthful about certain events in my past, I wanted to clear the air once and for all by giving you, the people, a complete and true biography of my life. No fluff, no hyperbole, just me. Brian.
I was born Brian Ezekiel Williams in 1959 to Dorothy and Gordon Williams in the heartland of the rural South. I was raised an only child because the Dust Bowl had taken the life of my older sister, Julianne, three years prior. We were poor but happy.
When I turned 8, my family, like the rest of the nation, was in the throes of the Great Depression. It wasn’t easy for any of us. I’ve know what it is to starve, to close my eyes and imagine the bread I was eating was a Christmas ham. My mother was a seamstress and my father told everyone he was involved in “waste management.” But my mother and I knew the truth. He was a made man in the Capone crime family of Chicago. Life was fine in the Williams household until things came crumbling down when I watched my older sister Julianne get shot and killed in the crossfire of a drug deal gone wrong.
At 19, I joined the army. I was too distraught about Julianne, and I left my family behind. In my heart of hearts, I knew one day I would sit at a desk and read the news to the nation through a teleprompter. But this was World War I we were dealing with, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to fight with my fellow men overseas.
As the war raged on, I saw more of my boys than you can count drop dead from bullets and grenades. I’ll never forget the look in my friend Bubba’s eyes, dying in front of me, as I promised him that after this was over I would buy that shrimping boat and open a restaurant and name it after us. Then, WWI ended and the Civil Rights movement began.
When I first heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak, chills ran up my spine. I was a 24-year-old lad in Washington, D.C., running errands for JFK. I had met my soon-to-be wife, Jane, and we were living in a studio apartment in the same building as Hunter S. Thompson and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Then came the day that will be remembered throughout history. I’ve interviewed legends from Isaac Newton to Ariana Grande, but I’ll never forget the moment that JFK was shot. Because I was there, in Washington D.C., 15 yards away, watching the whole thing happen. I even have a scar where shrapnel from Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullet hit me.
After the shock of the assassination wore off, my wife and I got pregnant with my daughter Allison. We named her after my sister Julianne, who had died three years prior in a plane crash.
Then, through my connections in Washington, I scored an internship at NBC. I worked my ass off as a page night and day; I was the first one there and the last one to go home. I would watch Walker Kronkite break story after story, riveted by his dedication and screen presence. I got him his coffee every day (tan, two sugars), and through that little interaction we grew close. I’m pleased to say that Walker and I became best friends and still are to this day.
Then, in 1970, a spot opened up. There were whispers of a new show they were workshopping called “NBC Nightly News.” I knew it was my chance. The first time I applied for the job, I was turned away. I didn’t know why. Was it because I was unqualified? That couldn’t be the case. Was it because I was black? Probably. I can say in that moment that I understood first hand what racial discrimination feels like in this country. Because it happened to me. I had never even thought about the dark color of my skin and what it meant. I was always just a person.
I walked straight into the President of NBC’s office, who was in the middle of a meeting with Elizabeth Taylor, and called on all my strength as the proud black man I was: “Mister Frank, I’m Brian Williams. And I’m the best man for the job.” He took one look at me and said “Son, you’re hired.” And that’s how my career in reading a teleprompter on television began (full disclosure for the sake of transparency: after that meeting Liz Taylor and I would become lovers for a time).
A few years later, my daughter Allison got her asshole eaten out on an episode Girls.
So that is my story. My full story. My only story.
If I have trouble remembering small pieces of certain events, it is only because I am a journalist whose job is to focus on the large, sweeping details of the story and disregard the smaller “facts.”
Yours in ethics in journalism,