Delivering the commencement address Sunday at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams implied America is broken as he told the graduates: “We need you to fix the country.”
That clip, squeezed in between Al Gore at Carnegie Mellon and Martin Sheen at Notre Dame, aired as part of an annual compilation of commencement advice run at the end of Monday's NBC Nightly News. NBC also aired this from Williams: “We need you all now to step up. And every adult in this place has every faith that you're up to the job.”
Video of a commencement story on the Web site of NBC's Columbus affiliate, WCMH-TV, featured a longer version of the line from Williams: “We need you to fix the country -- and I'm sorry to ask this of you.” In another soundbite aired by the local station, Williams paraphrased Bill Clinton: “There is nothing wrong with America that someone from Ohio State can't fix. Go get them OH!”
[UPDATE, 10:30 PM EDT: I found full video on MSNBC.com (Breitbart TV has that same 13-minute Flash video here), and the entire address isn't as political as the “we need you to fix the country” comment suggested. Williams, however, apologized: “On behalf of my generation, I'm so sorry, the Internet is so cool we got sidetracked.” He urged the graduates to “pick one area” and do something about it, recommending they “start with climate” since “something tells me this may be a challenge in the years ahead” to “find a way to get around without fuel in our tanks that comes from an enemy of this country.”
Echoing a theme of those calling for “change,” Williams pleaded:
We won't see an election like this for decades again in this country. We are at a crossroads. They don't get more important and it's so important that you all get involved. Put your generational stamp on American politics.