NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw apologized Sunday following a wave of backlash for comments he made on “Meet the Press” about Hispanic people.
Mr. Brokaw, a senior correspondent at NBC, claimed on a “Meet the Press” panel Sunday morning that “Hispanics” needed to do a better job at assimilating to American culture.
“I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”
“PBS NewsHour” White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor pushed back against Mr. Brokaw’s remarks later in the segment.
“I would just say that we also need to adjust what we think of as America,” Ms. Alcindor said. “You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”
Mr. Brokaw’s comments sparked a torrent of backlash on social media, prompting him to apologize to “that proud culture” in a series of tweets.
“I feel terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture,” Mr. Brokaw wrote. “From my days reporting on Cesar Chavez to documenting the many contributions of Hispanics in all parts of our culture, I’ve worked hard to knock down false stereo types [sic]. In my final comment in Meet I said ALL sides [have] to work harder at finding common ground — which I strongly believe. Dialogue not division.”
Mr. Brokaw also thanked Ms. Alcindor, writing, “I so appreciate my colleague great. Yamiche is a wonderful colleague and an important voice.”
“I am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many,” he added. “The great enduring American tradition of diversity is to be celebrated and cherished. Yamiche, thank u for your comments. Let’s go forward together.”
Mr. Brokaw then, inexplicably, celebrated getting the public’s attention.
“It worked!” he wrote. “I got your attention. ‘night.”