NBC News special correspondent and former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw received scathing backlash Sunday for remarks he made on a “Meet the Press” segment about Hispanic assimilation.
Brokaw, 78, made his remarks during a panel discussion about the fight for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“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,” he said.
“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.
Brokaw went on to say, “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.”
His comments quickly drew strong reactions on Twitter, with many decrying what he had said.
“(Tom Brokaw) my mom worked harder at learning English than most teens in their HS ‘foreign language’ class,” NYU adjunct professor Carolina J. Morena tweeted. “I'm fluent in Spanish & English, majored in French & studied Portuguese. Maybe the US should try harder to assimilate into global society. #ImmigrationIsTheFuture Join us!”
“(Tom Brokaw) for a celebrated @NBCNews journalist who spent years chronicling American society you seem stunningly ignorant of the Hispanic community in this country. Unfortunate to see xenophobia pass for elevated political commentary,” Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro wrote.
Brokaw apologized Sunday night, saying he felt “terrible a part of my comments on Hispanics offended some members of that proud culture.”
He later added, “"i am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many. the great enduring american tradition of diversity is to be celebrated and cherished. yamiche, thank u for your comments. let’s go forward together.”
For some, Brokaw’s apology wasn’t good enough.
“Traslation: I'm truly sorry I said that out loud, I usually keep my bigotry inside my head. Your response tells me I've revealed too much and I'm sorry it offended you. I wish I could say it and you wouldn't be offended, so I wouldn't have to hide that part of me,” one person wrote in an attempt to decode Brokaw’s tweet.
“So disappointed in you Tom. I hope you did not mean what you said during your interview with @chucktodd,” another wrote in response to Brokaw’s tweet.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists said in a statement an apology wasn’t good enough.
“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,’” the group said. “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.”
NBC News did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Brokaw anchored the long-running "NBC Nightly News" from 1982-2004.
Fox News’ Michael Arroyo contributed to this report.