Brian Williams, Today Show

Today

Brian Williams sat down with Matt Lauer in an interview that aired Friday morning on Today and apologized for past mistakes made while anchoring NBC's Nightly News.

Williams, who was suspended for six months, admitted, "I said things that weren't true."

"It has been torture," Williams said of his time away from the desk. "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."

A thorough investigation into Williams' work over the past decade revealed that the anchor had made inaccurate statements about a variety of events involving his coverage. NBCUniversal announced Thursday that Lester Holt would permanently takeover as anchor for Nightly News while Williams would cover breaking news for MSNBC, which he considers a "second chance."

"I'm a grateful person," he told Lauer. "I am fully aware of the second chance I have been given. I don't intend to squander it. I have strong feelings for the folks who tuned in all these years."

Williams also said that he felt it was his need to be better than other anchors that drove him to tell misleading stories, including when he recalled a 2003 war story about being aboard a U.S. Army helicopter in Iraq when the chopper was forced down due to a rocket-propelled grenade.

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

He added, "This came from clearly a bad place, a bad urge inside me. This was clearly ego-driven, a desire to better my role in a story I was already in. That's what I've been tearing apart and unpacking and analyzing."

But Williams said he would do anything and everything in his power to win back the viewers' trust.

"I'll work every day for it," he said. "I'll go door to door...Hold me to account. Judge me by as harsh a standard as you wish."

As for how he's feeling now, Williams said he considers himself "a grateful man" who is "mindful of his blessings" and "mistakes."

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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