MSNBC’s new 11th Hour with Brian Williams is neither an hour nor, as Williams noted in his much-discussed-by-media debut as host, does it air at 11 PM in most time zones. But, he quipped, “We are rapidly nearing the 11th hour for this presidential campaign. So we will be here at this hour from now until Election Day, when we will cancel ourselves.”

Williams’ road-to-career-recovery “pop up” broadcast devoted a lot of time to touting MSNBC’s next night Matt Lauer-moderated Commander-in-Chief themed forum, featuring candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Clinton lost the coin toss to go first.)

Brian Williams
NBC

Williams called it “a kind of sneaky backdoor debate,” happily predicting “this could be an event” for viewers “who have been in the fog of Labor Day, perhaps running from fake hurricanes.” Wags are gonna seize on that crack to remind readers of Williams’ “fog of war” explanation for the fake details about his Iraq War experience that cost him his NBC Nightly News anchor gig.

The 11th Hour program marks Williams’ first program since losing the Nightly News anchor desk.

Among those on hand to help Williams through his first night, MSNBC contributor/WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson predicted each candidate would try to disqualify the other to be CiC, “because when it’s a referendum on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton does very, very well, and when it’s a referendum on…Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump does very well.”

“In terms of knowledge about national security and experience, it won’t be much a contest,” Robinson assured, adding, “it will be interesting to see if Trump is able to bluff his way through that, or just kinda of falls back on Make America Great.”

Former GOP White House hopeful John Kasich was Williams’ first big 11th Hour “get.” When asked, “Will decency emerge from this campaign still alive and in style?” the former Trump rival began to talk about the movie Sully.

I think it’ll be a big hit. People are looking for heroes,” Kasich said. “They’re looking for somebody that puts somebody else first… We yearn for that. It’s in us. It’s written on our hearts. So yes, I do think we can unify, but these are troubling, unsettled, fast-moving times where there have been a lot of people that find themselves in the ditch. And we have to help them get out”:

Williams wrapped his safe inaugural 11th Hour telecast with news an election-cycle tradition had made an appearance on Hillary Clinton’s plane that day, when reporters rolled an orange down the aisle, bearing a press corp question for the candidate: Dinner with Trump or Putin?

“An aide to Clinton circled ‘Putin’ and rolled the orange back into the waiting arms of the press corps,” Williams smiled.