But all that royalty evaporates in the presence of President Barack Obama. The contrast between Williams roaring like a lion against Obama's Republican challengers at the Reagan Library on Sept. 8, and then bowing gently like a lamb at the White House two days later was jaw dropping.
In California, Williams blasted Gov. Rick Perry with this question: "Texas ranks last among those who have completed high school, there are only eight other states with more living in poverty, no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage. So is that the kind of answer all Americans are looking for?"
Later, Williams went at Perry again: "As you know, your state ranks among the worst in the country in high school graduation rates, as we established. Yet, you recently signed a budget cut for billions in education funding, you pushed for greater cuts than were in the budget that the legislature passed. You've said that education is a top priority, but explain cutting it the way you did, please?"
But Williams' absolute worst moment arrived when he lost all sense of objectivity and fairness on the death penalty issue. "Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?"
Williams didn't just hammer Perry, he also repeatedly pounded Ron Paul like a haughty Swedish socialist to defend his libertarian views. He even lectured Rick Santorum that as a "devout Catholic," he was supposed to care for the poor, so "where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage?"
Then Brian Williams went back to Washington, D.C.
Less than 48 hours later, Williams was calmly asking Obama to assess the 10th anniversary of 9/11 like he was father of the country. He also asked Obama what it's like for the president and his wife to walk through Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, where the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan rest.
This would be unexceptional on such a solemn occasion...if NBC had done that for George W. Bush on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Guess what? They didn't. Matt Lauer secured a Bush interview in 2006 and fought him throughout the entire thing, first on Iraq, and then on Iran.