Pete Williams (journalist)

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Pete Williams
Pete Williams at Aspen Security Forum.jpg
Williams at the 2017 Aspen Security Forum
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
In office
May 22, 1989 – January 20, 1993
Nominated by George H. W. Bush
Preceded by J. Daniel Howard
Succeeded by Vernon A. Guidry, Jr.
Personal details
Born Louis Alan Williams[1]
(1952-02-28) February 28, 1952 (age 65)[2]
Casper, Wyoming, United States
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Journalist, spokesperson
Pete Williams as Assistant Secretary of Defense at a press briefing, 1991

Louis Alan "Pete" Williams (born February 28, 1952) is an American journalist and former government official. Since 1993, he has been a television correspondent for NBC News.

Williams, a graduate of Stanford University, began his career in local news with the Casper, Wyoming, television station KTWO and its eponymous radio station in 1974.

In 1986, Williams became press secretary for U.S. Representative Dick Cheney and followed Cheney to the United States Department of Defense as Cheney became United States Secretary of Defense to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in 1989 during the George H. W. Bush administration.

Williams became a correspondent for NBC News in 1993 after leaving the Defense Department; his main areas of news coverage for NBC include the Department of Justice and Supreme Court.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Casper, Wyoming, Williams graduated from Natrona County High School in 1970.[3]

Williams graduated from Stanford University in 1974.[4]


Early journalism career[edit]

From 1974 to 1985, Williams was reporter and news director for the Casper-based KTWO television and KTWO radio stations.[5] Williams also served as director for the Wyoming Future Project from 1985 to 1986.[2]

Press secretary[edit]

In 1986, Williams was hired as press secretary and legislative assistant in the staff of U.S. Representative Dick Cheney. Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in 1989, following Cheney's appointment as United States Secretary of Defense, and worked as press secretary of the Defense Department.[5]

While serving as a Pentagon spokesperson, he was accused of allegedly working to cover up the large-scale irregular military activities that had occurred during the US invasion of Panama under the pretense of apprehending Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, which was later featured in the documentary film The Panama Deception (1992).

Later journalism career[edit]

Williams prepares a report in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2012.

NBC News hired Williams in March 1993 as justice correspondent based in Washington, D. C., to cover news from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court.[5]

During the Bosnian War, Williams initially denied that there was any evidence of genocide or war crimes, claiming that "we do not see evidence of a program of systematic or massive killing of innocent people". A video clip of the actual statement is featured in the 1997 film Welcome to Sarajevo.[6]

As NBC justice correspondent, Williams has interviewed United States Attorneys General John Ashcroft,[7] Alberto Gonzales,[8] and Eric Holder.[9]

In covering the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings for MSNBC and NBC News, Williams earned praise from various media analysts for choosing to report events in a restrained, cautionary fashion. In contrast with the Associated Press and CNN, Williams refused to report a later-retracted claim that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had arrested a suspect for the bombing.[10] For Politico, Dylan Byers commented: "On a major story that has been defined by inaccurate and conflicting reports and wild speculation, Williams has been calm, diligent and correct."[11] Brian Resnick of the National Journal wrote that Williams showed "restraint in not jumping too far into conclusions."[12] The phrase "NBC's Pete Williams" became a trending topic in the overnight hours of April 19, 2013.[13]


  1. ^ Nominations before the Senate Armed Services Committee, first session, 101st Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990, p. 350 
  2. ^ a b Sciolino, Elaine (February 8, 1991). "Voice of the Pentagon Delivers Press Curbs With a Deftness Honed on TV". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ Hewitt, Pete (February 25, 1991), "Defense Spokesman Pete Williams Is the Pentagon's Stand-Up Guy", People, 35 (7), p. 58 
  4. ^ Bush, George H.W. (May 2, 1989). "Nomination of Louis A. Williams to Be an Assistant Secretary of Defense". The American Presidency Project. 
  5. ^ a b c "Pete Williams". NBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Welcome to Sarajevo". Retrieved April 4, 2016. 
  7. ^ Williams, Pete (November 18, 2009). "Ashcroft: Holder lacks authority to order terror trials". NBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ Williams, Pete (March 27, 2007). "Gonzales: Firings were not improper". NBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Williams, Pete (June 5, 2013). "Holder says he has no intention of stepping down". NBC News. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ Freedlander, David (April 20, 2013). "NBC, Today Show Get Boston Marathon Bombing Coverage Right". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ Byers, Dylan (April 19, 2013). "Pete Williams and the threat to CNN". Dylan Byers on Media (blog of Politico). Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ Resnick, Brian (April 19, 2013). "Pete Williams' Reporting Philosophy, And Why He's Getting Boston Right". National Journal. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ [1].

External links[edit]