Tom Brokaw apologizes after being crucified for truth about Hispanics need to work harder at assimilation

NBC News’ Tom Brokaw offered a lengthy apology after he found himself buried in backlash over remarks he made about Hispanics.

The  former “NBC Nightly News” anchor apologized Sunday evening for offending “members of that proud culture,” after his comments during an appearance on “Meet the Press” earlier in the day drew heavy fire and sparked debate on social media.

“On the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats,” the NBC News special correspondent said Sunday during a panel discussion on the ongoing debate over a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ 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 added.

“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,” Brokaw continued. “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.”

Another panel guest, PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, pushed back at Brokaw’s remarks.

“I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think America can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling,” she said.

CNN’s Maria Cardona reacted to Brokaw’s comments later Sunday on “CNN Newsroom,” saying the former NBC News anchor was “a little out of touch.”

“My reaction is he’s a little out of touch. I love him and I’ll give him a pass because he’s probably not up to speed as to where things are today and age, especially with young Latinos in this country,” she said. “But what Tom Brokaw said is just not true. A lot of Latinos, most Latinos do assimilate incredibly well. In fact, the second generation of Latinos, a lot of them are predominantly speaking English, predominantly get their news from English language sources, but what I love about them as well is that they are incredibly proud of their heritage.”

But many did not see why Brokaw was coming under fire for speaking “truths.”

Nevertheless, backlash against Brokaw erupted on Twitter soon after he made his “Meet the Press” comments.

And reprimands continued to come in from other sources as well, such as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists

“To assert that the U.S. is not the melting pot that the country prides itself on being, is disinformation as the U.S. has always had immigrants and a mixture of races, religious beliefs and languages in its history,” the group said in a statement. “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.”

Brokaw tried to put out the fire with an apology in a series of tweets later on Sunday.

The 78-year-old veteran journalist noted problems he was having with his Twitter account before posting a few more apologetic messages.

Brokaw added that he “never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are,” and was “sorry I failed to convey my strong belief that diversity – dynamic and inclusive is what makes America.”

Though he did get slammed on social media, Brokaw did find plenty on Twitter who not only understood what he was saying, but totally agreed with him.

 

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Frieda Powers

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