As America grappled with the worst domestic mass shooting in its history and the understanding that the gunman who killed 49 people in Orlando was a supporter of ISIS, MSNBC’s so-called No. 1 anchor of breaking news coverage found time to joke about politics.
On Sunday, MSNBC’s Brian Williams was interviewing former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., when he changed direction abruptly.
“Senator, I’m listening to your politics and wondering what branch of the Republican Party you’re in these days and can you find it with a flashlight?” Williams said.
Martinez was taken aback, but rallied.
“My goodness, Brian, I was hoping we weren’t going to talk about that tonight. That’s a difficult one for me,” he replied.
“Sorry. I have to,” Williams insisted.
Martinez then spoke from the heart.
“Look, the fact is that, you know, we have a great country. I am an immigrant of this nation and I live in love of this land and what it stands for. Days like today just break your heart,” Martinez said. “We can never forget the greatness of this nation and the ability of people to come together. When you see 600 people standing in line to donate blood when the call went out that it was needed, that’s the America that I love and regardless of the R’s and D’s, that’s the America I hope we all pull for and will prevail out of these horrible events.”
Before passing coverage back to anchor Kelly O’Donnell, Williams flubbed the state form which Martinez hails and talked about “the inevitable political reaction to this.”
Although O’Donnell said they would “dive right in,” a few minutes later, Williams had to take to the air to apologize.
“As we said and with apologies with the look at the inevitable politics of even a national tragedy given that we are in a political season, but the words right below us there, ‘Deadliest Mass Shooting in American History.’ That is the conversation tonight. That’s the story we’re covering tonight. The tragedy we all woke up to this morning. Our coverage will continue after a break,” he said.
“It’s serious. It’s tragic, and certainly not the time to offer quips about the current state of the Republican Party,” wrote Matt Vespa on Town Hall. “Williams’ joke obviously didn’t sit well — and it shouldn’t.”
h/t: Town Hall