Tom Brokaw Apologizes for Saying ‘Hispanics Should Work Harder at Assimilation’

Hours after airing thoughts on Hispanic Americans, Tom Brokaw apologized to offended viewers, though not everyone thinks his remorse is sufficient.

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The 78-year-old former NBC Nightly News anchor made the incendiary remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, January 27. “I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should to work harder at assimilation,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time, that that 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.”

Tom Brokaw Apologizes for ‘Meet the Press’ Comments About Hispanics
Tom Brokaw on NBC’s ‘Today’ on October 19, 2018. Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Fellow guest Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, immediately contested Brokaw’s comments. “We also need to adjust what we think of as America,” she 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.”

That night, Brokaw issued an apology over a series of tweets. “I feel terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture,” he 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.”

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The veteran journalist tweeted that he was “sorry, truly sorry” his comments were offensive to many. “The great enduring american tradition of diversity is to be celebrated and cherished,” he added. “Yamiche, thank u for your comments. let’s go forward together.”

Tom Brokaw Apologizes for ‘Meet the Press’ Comments About Hispanics
Kristen Welker, NBC News White House Correspondent, and Tom Brokaw, NBC News Senior Correspondent, appear on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 27, 2018. William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

He continued: “Finally, i am sorry – i never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are. Finally, i am sorry I failed to convey my strong belief that diversity – dynamic and inclusive is what makes America.”

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His mea culpa failed to impress the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, however. In a press release, the organization decried “both the commentary and apology by journalist Tom Brokaw as well as the lack of response by NBC News.”

“As Yamiche begins to point out, by saying a group ‘must assimilate’ is to label America as being one-dimensional and consists of a single culture,” the NAHJ statement reads. “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. It is these values in fact that makes the country fascinating and has spread the ‘American Dream.’”

In 2018, two women accused Brokaw of sexual harassment. The former anchor denied the claims, saying in an email to colleagues that he is “proud of who I am as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen.”

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