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How Brian Williams got the seat at NBC

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in Leaders & Managers

After the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw was impressed with this young guy covering it for CBS.

Brokaw picked a quiet old hotel and invited Brian Williams for a drink.

The younger man recounted how he’d been toiling in the wilderness and how he dreamed of becoming a news anchor. Well, Brokaw responded, would he consider coming over to NBC?

“I told him, ‘If you look around, there is nobody behind me,’” says Brokaw, who would become Williams’ mentor and friend. “You can get in line.”

Williams did just that. When he took the anchor’s seat at the end of 2004, Brokaw presented him with a stopwatch given to him by his predecessor, the late John Chancellor. 

“I never understood why CBS wasn’t finding more room for him,” Brokaw says.

Question: What diamond in the rough is your competition neglecting?

— Adapted from “Anchored Man,” Joe Conason, AARP the Magazine.

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