Brian Williams took over NBC Nightly News’ Facebook page Wednesday for more than two hours to answer questions from viewers and fans on both his personal and professional life. We asked you to fire away – and thousands of you did. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Brittain Jones: "What story have you covered in your career has stuck with you the most?"
Williams: "I think...and its close...it will always be Katrina...just because it bonded me with that fantastic place and we saw such profound suffering...our own people were failed by their own Government in such a profound way. It was hard to watch -- but an honor to tell their stories."
2. Fran Samaras Hyde: "What is the favorite thing about your job?"
Williams: "Taking questions on Facebook. Seriously: with all the tough news we must cover day in and day out -- we have elective stories we can choose to do on nice people, brave people -- the good that goes on every minute of every day...the stuff that keeps us going."
3. Jimmie Vestal: "Will you be making another appearance on Saturday Night Live?"
Williams: "hmmm appreciate the question but that was SO outside my area of expertise and it was SO nerve-wracking...I don't know if I could ever survive it. Hey anybody heard from Feist??"
4. Kate Silveira: "Last year my son (at 2 years old) wanted to be Lestor Holt for Halloween. This year at 3 years old, he is requesting to be you Brian Williams! Any words of advice on how to pull the best B. Williams for Halloween?"
Williams: "Best advice: have someone break his nose, so it heads off on a weird angle (KIDDING...DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. ATTEMPT AT SELF-EFFACING HUMOR DUE TO BROKEN NOSE IN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL) but seriously...if I'd known I was gonna work in television I wouldn't have settled for having my nose put back into place...after being broken by the bridge of my helmet...with two popsickle sticks on the sidelines. Other than that: tell him to rock a good tie and walk around saying we'll look for you right back here tomorrow night."
5. Gretchen A. Ours-Byuse: "What news story have you told, if any, that almost made you lose your composure on air?"
Williams: "To be honest, it happens all the time. The truth is: when I know something emotional is coming up, I do stuff on my computer. Its not because I'm lacking in sincerity or I'm unemotional... its the opposite...anyone with empathy has a hard time with emotional stories. If its too hard to watch on the air, I re-watch it later in the privacy of my office. Nobody wants a weepy news anchor."
6. M Rocket: "Hi Brian! Thanks for all the dog-related "making a difference" stories. Did you and your family ever decide on a four-legged, adopted addition?"
Williams: "We are still in that tough period. We miss our beloved Lucy every day...talk about her all the time, and obsess over dogs. My wife and daughter and I were all gazing at the North Shore Animal League puppy adoption site last weekend...Lucy was 16+ and our family history was wrapped up in her life, and ours in hers. We'll take the plunge...we want to make sure everything's right so we can love the dickens out of a dog again!"
7. Amy Eve: "Do you wear a suit on the weekends too?"
Williams: "ouch. really? What you see on tv is SO not my natural state. Since Nixon, how many people do you know who wake up and WANT to put on a suit. Horrors. No, as a civilian I dress so normally I'm actually always kinda thrilled that I can attend short track stock car races, football games, go to the food store and escape un-recognized. When people see you "in uniform" it’s a lot more likely they will make the connection."
8. Steven Chisnall: "Mr. Williams: How is your knee since the surgery?"
Williams: "Great...thanks for asking. I still work out like a mad man...its been 13 months and its all about the PT..I waited WAY too long...30 years since I played my last down in HS football...I don't recommend being in pain for three decades."
9. Brooke Martell: "Hi Brian! I'm a journalism student and I'm graduating in the spring. What is your best piece of advice for a new graduate entering the field?"
Williams: "Be able to write fast and reflexively like breathing. If its for you as a career...its like falling in love or anything else...you'll know it."
10. Jon Gutierrez: "Are you angry at Jimmy Fallon for the Rap Sessions?"
Williams: "Quite the opposite. They've been amazing. Never before have so many words been re-purposed so outside their original meaning. We have interviewed the profoundly talented video editor and will put it on the web before long."
11. James Ewing: "Does the orchestral intro music get you as pumped up for the news as it does for me?"
Williams: "Yes -- and in the studio, we play the dance mix."
12. Dynasty Wright: "What is your favorite place to travel to?"
Williams: "This is not pandering. I swear. But I've been all over the country and the world...and I always wanted a place at the Jersey Shore, where I grew up. Now that we have one...and it’s so easy to get to...there is no destination that brings down my pulse and blood pressure quite as quickly as the Jersey Shore. We can't change where we're from or where we feel the most at home. I know the roads, the customs, the language, the food and I'd like to think I know the people there best."
13. Crystie Carroll Morgan: "I love the last five minutes of your News, "Making a difference report". It really makes my day, I usually have tears...and I always share on Facebook. My question is, Can we have these every day?"
Williams: Making A Difference was my wife's idea many years ago. She is national chair of a charity called Horizons National...devotes much of her life to it, and her theory is: people are doing good things every minute of every day...it's contagious if we start telling their stories.
14. Tabitha Pereira: "What's your favorite holiday"
Williams: "Christmas. Nothing close."
15. Daniel Pomerening: "Biggie or Tupac?"
Williams: "I don't want to stir up trouble with Big's existing crew...but The Pac has been my guy."
16. Anne Reeves: "My Father passed away of Prostate Cancer last year after a 12 year fight. He used to say, "goodnight Brian" after your nightly broadcast. I now continue that tradition..."
Williams: "May he rest in peace. I love/love hearing stories of our friends/viewers/customers who say goodnight back to me...and I hear it so often I now often think of folks as I say goodnight into camera...waiting for them to respond! It's an awfully nice thought, and so flattering."
17. Jacki Miller: "Hi Brian-do you play any musical instruments like our friend Lester Holt?"
Williams: "Lester slaps the base. I envy that about him. I love music and cannot live without it -- eclectic tastes...just getting into the new Leonard Cohen and Jenny Lewis at the same time (don't try at home) and have thousands upon thousands of songs in my itunes...but sadly I suck at the actual mechanics of music. While I can deconstruct a song and tell you what each instrument is and what its doing, I can't read a note and can't play a note. I was given a guitar and fully planned to learn while recouping from knee replacement...but the funny thing about them pain killers they give you is...they can also be ambition-killers! I intend to download Nils Lofgren's online guitar course when I'm ready to slap the acoustic. For now: Lester rules."
18. Leslie Riley: "What do you watch at home?"
Williams: "A ton. Too much. Boardwalk is great again. Homeland is about to hit. News and lots of it. Roosevelts up to my neck right now. Thanks, Ken."
19. Andrea Saint James: "Ok. I'm a fan, but why were you interviewing Ben Affleck yesterday & promoting his new movie on a hard news show?"
Williams: "I get asked this a lot...and basically my answer is: because newspapers have sections, and because life's too short. We could EASILLY fill the entire 30 minute slot with nothing but hard news, especially in our post 9-11 era. But there's variety to life...and while he may not be your favorite: Ben is an interesting guy with an active mind and a great backstory. And I happen to have loved The Town. The broadcast is called NBC Nightly News for good reason...and I don't think anyone can match us on our hard news coverage of tonight's lead stories, for example. But I think we have room to explore electives."
20. Richard Wilson: "Ever consider extending broadcast to one hour nightly. Seems like there isn't enough time in 30 minutes to do the news anymore. So much in the world to cover. Also would be great to come to Wilmington NC [next] for a broadcast.
Williams: I'm sorry we too often visit Wilmington when the weather is howling around the outer banks. We would LOVE an hour...it's just that the time is now cemented as affiliate time...it's hard to believe our broadcast started as a 15-minute broadcast, sponsored by Camel cigarettes, no less. Imagine that today."
21. Tabitha Pereira: "What's your dream car?"
Williams: "I love this question. The problem is the answer. The hardest show for me to watch is Barrett-Jackson auto auctions...I can never go NEAR one of those in real life -- I'd spend all our money -- I love American muscle cars from the 60's.. all of them.. Chargers, Chevelles, Mustangs, Vettes, Camaros, GTO's... of the new stuff, there's some greats out there from all the American manufacturers. And while I woudn't kick an Aston Martin Vanquish out of the garage...it's like an addiction I have to avoid!"
22. Krystal Robinson-Bert: "Have you always had the "Brian Williams" side part hairstyle?"
Williams: "Wow. I didn't know it was A Thing. awesome. I've had it forever I guess...though first thing in the morning, its more Flock Of Seagulls."
23. Marvin Dowdy Jr.: "What do you think of volunteer fire departments?"
Williams: "They are the backbone of our country. No matter how big or fancy we get, the truth is in most American communities -- outside of our big cities: when you have a fire in your home, it’s your neighbors who drop what they are doing, get out of bed and risk their lives to put the fire out. It’s a pure public service. I miss doing it every day. Thank you for the question."
24. Jack Sprat: "If you could choose one Springsteen song to open up a concert, what would you like to hear?"
Williams: "This is tough...as tough a question as there is, in a weird way. I've attended more concerts than I can count, in the US and around the world.. I go back to '75 at the Pony... large venues and small. I have never seen an artist so self-renewing -- and not only UN-diminished by the passage of time, in many ways made better. This is the long way of saying: I don't know. This last tour was epic... and I can't wait to see what he's got next."
25. Alfonso Colon: "Do you play golf?"
Williams: "No. Too frustrating and with a club in my hand I'm probably a danger to others. One of the few times I tried on an actual golf course, I somehow managed to hit a drive backwards into the windshield of the cart and I almost killed two friends of mine. I play baseball and throw a football on the beach with my son. No one gets hurt -- at least not yet."
26. Will James: "Brian, your line of work opens you up to a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. How do you handle it?"
Williams: "It’s all part of the job. It’s an enormous honor to sit in this chair and with it comes responsibility -- and hopefully thick skin."
27. Mrudula Gandham: "Will you ever be doing another Q&A session?"
Williams: "Yes, but only by popular demand. And guess what? You just asked the last question for this session. My thanks to everyone...I wish I could answer them all -- I truly do -- I'm flattered by the interest and by your attention. I've got to get home and have dinner, and I have a story to shoot 2 hours north of NYC in the morning...and miles to go before I sleep."
Catch the entire Q&A session on NBC Nightly News’ Facebook page. It was great hearing from so many fans, and we hope to do this again soon!