Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News anchorman, reflects on the stories that shaped the decade in this interview for Time Magazine.
I’m Gilbert Cruz for Time and this is 10 Questions with Brian Williams. Brian, thanks for being with us today.
Thank you for having me.
Now, you’ve been an anchor of NBC Nightly News for five years now. And our first question comes from Jared May in Boston. And Jared wants to know, ‘What do you consider to be the most important story of the decade?’
I would say 9/11. It changed how we are viewed in the world and changed how my children’s generation will grow up as Americans. It changed how I entered this building today. So I think
beyond everything else, it has to be when we were attacked very early on in the new decade.
Our next question is a similar question. It is from Ed Winters. Ed says ‘the most surprising news story in my lifetime was the collapse of the Soviet Union. What would you say is yours?’
It’s, it's very hard to to single out one thing in a lifetime of fifty years. We lost a very visible war in Vietnam. We won a very visible space race, though this theory about the end of the cold war and all that it has rocked is probably as good as any.
Have you ever interviewed anyone that made you angry or sick or just plain nervous?
Of all the lofty and highfalutin people I've interviewed, the worst interview I ever conducted was Steve Allen, who was having a bad day and decided that one word answers should suffice.
Deborah Turner from New York asks, ‘how do you expect television journalism to change in the next five years?’
Deborah, it's a great question. Since I have been in the business, which is roughly twenty-six years, I've seen a lot of death notices come and go about what I do for a living. Not only are we still standing and proud to report that in our neck of the woods, NBC Nightly News, our viewers have increased over even last year, the most exciting presidential campaign of the modern era.
Why are there no ugly people reading the Nightly News?
I would argue that there are a whole bunch of us on television who look normal and look like America. Has there been traditionally an awful fiendish double standard for the appearance of men and women on television? Yes, it's a cruel, cruel medium.
Curtis Ohl from Escondido California asks, ‘do you actually wear pants while doing the news?’
I choose to. I know colleagues and I am and I'm not gonna use any coy initials here, Al Roker, but I know people in the industry who who don't, Garrison Keillor and I, I, I don't celebrate that.
What are your thoughts on losing the “most trusted name in news” poll to Jon Stewart.
I consider Jon Stewart and that broadcast and their freakishly talented staff to be an entire branch of government. I think they are kind of unto themselves in what has become of our media society, a system of checks and balances. So, the truth is I proudly pass the mantle, the told torch of most trusted to Jon, knowing that the people who responded to that poll were just kidding.
Have you ever thought about giving up journalism and doing some sort of comedy?
I'm working in my first love. I don't know what I would do for a living if I if I couldn't work in journalism, not television. I could come off television tomorrow happily and, and as long as I was in the daily writing game.
When are you going to start twittering?
It's the outgoing I have a problem with. I'm happy to read the incoming of some people. Just too much of it is, is kind of “I got the most awesome new pair of sweatpants”. I'm just gonna go ahead and assume that people buy awesome sweatpants every day and that I don't need to know them by name.
What story have you felt the most passionate about covering?
I think probably Katrina. You know, there were dime diamond dusts on op-ed columns saying, well, the media found its voice. They found their footing. They got a little angry. Well, you bet we did. This was a story where we didn't need a pass, a government escort or special permission. We were there. We were standing there as fellow citizens watching fellows suffer and die. So I think that will allow stay with me.
Well, Brian, thank you for taking questions from the readers of Time Magazine.
My pleasure. That was great.