Brian Williams has ‘profound disappointments’ in his country, anger towards HuffPo headlines

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On Monday’s edition of Alec Baldwin’s WNYC “Here’s the Thing” podcast, NBC’s “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams gave a wide-ranging interview on everything from his upbringing to how his career evolved and what his interests are.

Williams went so far as to deny he has many political opinions. However, he said he had broader concerns that dealt less with politics. and more of a macro-view of the country.

“My work has been so cleansed, as I see it, as I’ve tried, of political opinions over 27 years,” Williams said.

“How do you do it?” Baldwin said. “Do you have political opinions?”

“I sometimes don’t know,” Williams said. “I have the same disappointments in my patriotism. As a great man once said, I yield to no one. I love this country. I love the American idea. I have profound disappointments in my country. I feel we ought to be in space.”

Among those disappointments, Williams seemed to indicate that the United States has gotten away from “our spirit of community,” and singled out Twitter as an example of this phenomenon.

“I sometimes think, post-war America, post-Vietnam America, has kind of become exhausted,” Williams said. “I have another theory that the growth of self, all things self, has taken away our spirit of community. We can do this, cohesion, American-ness. When an average American citizen has followers — I know you have your own history with social media. You take a citizen who works in a restaurant. They now have the preoccupation of followers.”

“There is now someone who cares, and this applies to all of us, about our random thoughts, utterances,” he continued. “And that is a growth of self that we haven’t catalogued yet. We haven’t gotten our arms around it. The celebration of what you mean. Go back in the black and white movies you love from the ’40s, ’50s. Listen to the language. Listen to how first person is never used. And now it’s how we lead, how we begin every sentence.”

Williams, however, downplayed his own opinion and said he resists offering it because he felt that there was already enough political opinion amongst the public discourse.

“All of our media begins with the letter I, which is why I kind of like — to use the letter I, I kind of like my job. I get to do that part of my media life old school,” Williams explained. “No one needs another blowhard yelling at them. No one gives a rat’s patootie about my opinion. So that’s nice that I don’t have to share it. I’d have to form one first on half of these issues, and people, and I can try to call it down the middle, and try to be fair about it, and do a ‘just the facts,’ with a little fun around the margins.”

Later in the show, Williams told Baldwin what print and online media outlets he likes, which included The New York Times and a handful of New York City tabloids, particularly the New York Post.

WILLIAMS: I wake up. I have a paper copy of the New York Post — I’ll admit it—paper copy of The New York Times, which I do the New York thing. I stick sections in my briefcase, and they attract silverfish over the last couple of years — no, I’m kidding. But I get to the, when I can, and I read — I’m always aware of what’s on the Times Web site in real time.
BALDWIN: You read the Post?
WILLIAMS: Read the New York Post.
BALDWIN: Why do you read the Post?
WILLIAMS: I read the Post, the Daily News
BALDWIN: You just read all the New York papers. It’s just a habit.
BALDWIN: You’d read the Brooklyn Eagle if it was still coming out.
BALDWIN: I understand.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, yeah. But I read “Page Six” like everybody, and like everybody doesn’t admit reading “Page Six,” and I read the sports section. I read the TV-
BALDWIN: I read “Page Six” if it’s around, but I don’t necessarily go get it.
WILLIAMS: Do you have any history with The New York Post?
BALDWIN: None. None. I’ve been really lucky. I’ve laid low.
WILLIAMS: You know I like reading the New York tabs’ sport section after the Super Bowl.
BALDWIN: The Post has a great sports section.
WILLIAMS:  Who is going to hit Jim Nance over the head first? It’s just, I don’t know. It’s part of living here. But I’m always aware of what’s on The Times’ website. Dirty, guilty pleasure.

But as far as online media was concerned, Baldwin only brought up the Huffington Post, which both Williams and Baldwin said they read with some reservations.

BALDWIN: Huffington Post?
WILLIAMS: Huffington Post, yes.
BALDWIN: Not as much as I used to though.
WILLIAMS: Though I don’t click through. I get angry at the headlines.
BALDWIN: I wonder what she’s done there. I mean, obviously she’s passed it on, but –
WILLIAMS: They’re looking for clicks.
BALDWIN: I didn’t want to see the pictures of — and we’re going to get to this later, and it could be your daughter next — where it’s like side-boob. Everything is like this shot of Kate Hudson, this one, that one, popping out of their dress.

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