George P. Bush Speaks Out After Tom Brokaw's Comment About Hispanics and 'Brown Grandbabies'

Legendary TV anchor Tom Brokaw said Hispanics "work harder at assimilation" into American culture and some people are worried about "brown grandbabies"

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Legendary TV anchor Tom Brokaw is under fire for saying Hispanics should “work harder at assimilation” into American culture and saying people are worried about interracial relationships producing “brown grandbabies.”

Brokaw, 78, made the comments during Sunday’s broadcast of Meet the Press on NBC News.

Hours later, he responded to the backlash on Twitter.

“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 stereotypes. In my final comment in Meet I said ALL sides [have] to work harder at finding common ground — which I strongly believe. Dialogue not division.”

Later that night, he 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. … I never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are.”

On the show, Brokaw appeared as part of a panel discussing the temporary end to the government shutdown.

In the final segment, the discussion turned to President Donald Trump‘s proposed border wall with Mexico.

“And a lot of this, we don’t want to talk about, but the fact is 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,” Brokaw said.

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

“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 said. “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.”

An NBC News spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement: “Tom’s comments were inaccurate and inappropriate and we’re glad he apologized.”

On Monday morning, Brokaw drew rebuke from a member of America’s most prominent Republican family: George P. Bush, son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Florida First Lady Columba Bush, who is Mexican-American.

“With all due respect @Tombrokaw I am one of those ‘little brown ones,’ ” George tweeted.

He added that former president George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, his grandparents, “conveyed to me that they loved and were proud of me before they passed.”

(“Little brown ones” is a term George’s grandfather used for his grandchildren in the ’80s. It initially drew controversy, to which the former president responded: “Those grandchildren are my pride and joy.”)

That was far from the only criticism Brokaw has faced.

His comments were swiftly challenged by fellow panelist Yamiche Alincdor, of PBS, on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

“I would just say that 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.”

“All right, we’ll leave it there,” said moderator Chuck Todd, wrapping things up. “As somebody who grew up on ¿Qué Pasa, USA?, three generations, all Spanish, Spanglish and all English.”

In a statement Sunday night, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists called the language Brokaw used in one of his early apologetic statements — referring to being sorry about offending anyone rather than being sorry about what he said — “not an apology at all. It only further demonstrates Brokaw’s lack of understanding.”

“His position bolsters stereotypes that U.S. Hispanics are all foreigners, prejudiced as the “others,’ ” the NAHJ said.

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