Parsing out details of the program that first was speculated about in mid-August, NBC News said Williams will anchor live from MSNBC Election Headquarters in New York’s Rockefeller Center. Patrick Burkey is executive producer.
During the final stretch of the campaign between Labor Day and the election, the weeknight program will look at the major political stories of the day, any campaign news breaking at that hour, and headlines that will lead the next morning.
Not coincidentally, the ratings race has tightened considerably between MSNBC and CNN, now that CNN’s rip-snorting presidential election primary debates are in the rear-view mirror.
Last month, sources said the show would be a pop-up of sorts, running through Election Day. Williams’ job has been somewhat fluid since the former Nightly News anchor returned from a company-imposed six-month suspension last year, after it was revealed he had exaggerated his reports about some of his exploits and experiences as an NBC newsman.
Today, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said Williams’ new assignment is “a natural extension of the hundreds of hours of political coverage Brian has anchored through this campaign cycle so far.”
“He and Rachel Maddow and the team have been great on the big nights, and now he’ll build on MSNBC’s primetime momentum by taking us live into the 11 PM hour every night,” Griffin added.
“As the general election ramps up, there’s an opportunity to assess and discuss the campaign at the end of each day,” Williams chimed in. “With the help of the very best team in the business, we hope to offer some closure and sanity in addition to previewing where the campaigns are headed next.”
Williams’ debut on his new program comes a year after making a carefully orchestrated return to the air after a months-long suspension from NBC News, covering Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. His return had been promoted for the very first time by the cable news network just one ad break earlier, when MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts said, as he threw to the break at 2:56 PM ET, “Brian Williams picks up for our special coverage next.”