Brian Williams Leaving MSNBC and NBC News in December After 28 Years at the Network: 'End of a Chapter'

The news anchor said in a statement Tuesday that he is leaving the news outlet after his contract expires in December to be with family

brian williams
Photo: Art Streiber/MSNBC

Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC and NBC News, PEOPLE confirms.

In a memo to staff on Tuesday, MSNBC President Rashida Jones announced the news that Williams will be ending his run as host of The 11th Hour at the end of the year to "spend time with his family."

Williams has been with NBC News for 28 years. His contract ends in December.

"NBC is a part of me and always will be," he said in a statement of his own on Tuesday. "This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. There are many things I want to do, and I'll pop up again somewhere. For the next few months, I'll be with my family, the people I love most and the people who enabled my career to happen. I will reflect on the kindness people have shown me, and I will pay it forward."

After joining the network in 1993, Williams became the anchor for The News with Brian Williams in 1996. He began anchoring NBC Nightly News in 2004, taking over for Tom Brokaw.

He remained in that post until 2015 when he was suspended without pay for six months for for telling an exaggerated story about being in a helicopter brought down by enemy fire while embedded during the war in Iraq in 2003. He told a similar story to David Letterman in 2013.

At the time, NBC launched an internal investigation. Following his suspension, Williams took on a new role as breaking news anchor for MSNBC.

brian williams
Brian Williams. Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Williams covered a number of history's biggest news events — including the death of Princess Diana in 1997. In August, he told PEOPLE that reporting on her death was unlike any other story of his career.

"Because she was unique, this was unique," he said. "I've covered wars and plane crashes and presidential elections and assassinations — this doesn't nicely fit into any of those categories."

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Even without the modern advances of cell phones and social media, Williams added, "On nights like that, you can almost feel people tuning in."

"It's hard to explain, but it's a strange dynamic," he said. "These were days when you got a call from a loved one saying, 'Turn on the television. Are you watching this?' and you didn't know exactly what you were going to see. These kind of global village moments that brought people together, that made people call friends and family to make sure they were watching a momentous event — and this certainly was one."

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