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Let’s unpack Tom Brokaw’s bizarre apology tweets

Tom Brokaw stepped in it with his remarks about Hispanics during Meet the Press on Sunday. His efforts to step out of it have thus far been mystifying.

Let’s unpack Tom Brokaw’s bizarre apology tweets
Tom Brokaw [Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images]

Apologies are the parachutes you need after flinging yourself out of the airplane of Good Standing Within Polite Society (unless, of course, you’re the president, in which case not caring what polite society thinks is the Peter Pan happy thought that allows you to soar majestically through the sky).

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On Sunday afternoon, legendary newsman Tom Brokaw took a Greg Louganis-style springboard dive out of that airplane when he made some surprisingly alt-lite remarks about Hispanics on Meet the Press. Although he has since pulled the apology rip cord multiple times, the darn thing doesn’t want to open . . . because Tom Brokaw appears to be very bad at apologizing.

In speaking to host Chuck Todd about Hispanics assimilating in communities within the U.S., Brokaw said the following:

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.

Oof. The backlash was instantaneous, coming from all corners of the media and social media sphere, including Fox News, the network that famously cannot bear even a whiff of racism. Brokaw responded in the style one might expect from a 78-year-old man: with a string of misguided, unthreaded Twitter apologies that eventually curdled into the surreal.

First came the standard issue, “I’m sorry you were offended by my offensive statement” boilerplate, with a soupçon of self-aggrandizement thrown in for good measure.

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Oh, Tom. No.

Perhaps taking note of the firehose blast of criticism flying his way after the tweets, Brokaw took the dubious tact of writing several more tweets.

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In this go-round, Brokaw somehow decided to continue down the “sorry you were offended” non-apology path, and also blame the previous apology’s failure on the medium through which it was conveyed. He also used the word “whack” in a way that could either be interpreted as a “hello, fellow kids”-type attempt at slang, or a mangled attempt at claiming his Twitter account was hacked. The world may never know.

One thing is for sure: Brokaw cannot understand why lots of people are still mad at him. After all, he did use the word “sorry” multiple times; isn’t that enough? No, it isn’t, and if you thought Brokaw was done trying to get back into polite societies’ good graces, sadly you would have been mistaken. A couple hours later, Brokaw signed off from apology duty for the night, with the following bizarre tweet:

This one lends credence to the hacked account theory inspired by the “whack” tweet.

All in all, it was a PR disaster not quite on the level of Roseanne “I thought the bitch was whiiiite” Barr trying to dig herself out of the hole created by her infamous tweet last year, but it’s pretty bad all the same. Nothing Brokaw has tweeted yet suggests he understands why people haven’t let him off the hook yet, which is a good reason not to let him off the hook for this one. Considering that Brokaw is something of a #Resistance icon, holding his feet to the fire on this one is a healthy way for liberals to keep their side of the street clean.

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