On Sunday’s broadcast of Meet the Press, NBC News’ Tom Brokaw angered viewers and at least one of his colleagues when he suggested Hispanics in the U.S. need to “work harder at assimilation."
The former NBC Nightly News host made the comment during a panel on the divisive topic of immigration. Brokaw began by saying he’s heard people express fear about having more brown people in the country or even their families.
“Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies,’” he said. “I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.”
He continued: “I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. 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.”
After the remarks, PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor criticized the veteran news anchor for his problematic comment.
“I would just say that we also need to adjust what we think of as America. You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English,” the PBS correspondent told Brokaw. “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.”
Hours after the show, Brokaw took to Twitter and posted a series of “apologies” that many found more confusing than his original comment.
In his tweet storm, Brokaw also praised Alcindor for pushing back when the statements were first made.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement that slammed Brokaw for his comments and Twitter apology.
“The ‘sorry some Hispanics were offended’ apology tweeted by Tom Brokaw earlier this evening is not an apology at all. It only further demonstrates Brokaw’s lack of understanding of what forced assimilation does to communities,” the statement read.
(Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)