Why exactly did NBC’s Brian Williams join Twitter?

There was a time when he spoke disapprovingly of tweeting

In 2009, NBC's No. 1 newsman Brian Williams made a bit of news himself when he publicly pronounced his utter disinterest in Twitter and tweeting. He even spoke of this disdain (cloaked in faux self-deprecation) on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

OK, lots of people didn't like Twitter in 2009. Lots of people still don't like Twitter. And never will.

In 2010, however, Williams seemingly had a change of heart and opened a Twitter account (or at least someone did so in his behalf). You can tell that it's really the NBC newsman Brian Williams and not some imposter because of the blue checkmark next to his name.


Since then some 154,000 Twitter users have followed Williams, a total that while modest by celebrity standards is still substantial; roughly 151,000 more than follow me, for example.


The anchorman's arrival on Twitter was greeted enthusiastically, including via this tweet from fellow TV personality Katie Couric: "Hi @bwilliams! Welcome to @twitter! Looking forward to following you (don't worry, I'm not a stalker) Your pal, Katie." Couric has 668,000 Twitter followers.

As for those Twitter accounts Williams has seen fit to follow? That would be a mere three: NBC Nightly News, naturally, The New York Times, and one that tweets New York City Fire Department radio scanner reports. No sign of his pal Katie.


This lack of Twitter reciprocity is not unusual among celebrities. For example, Jon Stewart's partner in comedy, Stephen Colbert, has an enormous Twitter following of more than 4.4 million, yet deigns to follow literally no one. (In Colbert's case this is not being antisocial, it's being totally in character.)  

The proof of good Twittership, of course, is not found in one's follower and following counts but in the quality of one's tweets. So what pearls of wisdom, whimsy or wit has Williams bestowed upon his 154,000 followers in the 27 months that he's been on Twitter?

Well, that would be exactly zero, give or take exactly zero. (Couric has tweeted almost 8,000 times, or about 92,000 fewer than some geek named Jeff.)


Notice the gentle admonishment from Twitter itself: "@bwilliams has not tweeted yet."

Why not?

That would seem a natural enough question. I've asked Williams, but since I asked via Twitter, you'd best not hold your breath.

(Update: Some will certainly argue that I should take a cue from Williams and spend less time reading and writing about Twitter. Recent Twitter-related Buzzblog entries include: Joke Twitter account will tickle Seinfeld fans; A geek named Jeff just tweeted his 100,000th tweet; Twitter's mixed bag of 'users' deal with a broken link; 'Anonymous' turns in hacker who targeted children's charity; Twitter's attempt to protect TV exec's privacy backfires; 3 more use Twitter to commit professional suicide; and my personal favorite: With lions on the loose, that Twitter limit can bite.)

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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