Brian Williams | Gay Marriage | News

Brian Williams Clarifies "Marriage Under Attack" Statement

NBC Anchor Brian Williams responded on his blog to yesterday's "marriage under attack" controversy.

Brian_williamsWrote Williams: "I was the recipient today of several emails from well-intentioned people, telling me I was being attacked in parts of the blogosphere for something I wrote and said on the air in last night's broadcast. It was a closing piece about Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip celebrating their 60th anniversary. I noted this accomplishment, especially in this era when, as I put it, marriage seems 'under attack' as an institution. My meaning? Our national divorce rate, which is currently somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. Others took it upon themselves to decide that I was somehow attacking gay marriage. The simple fact is that nothing could have been further from my mind, as many others easily understood. In fact, one comment shared with me today came from a respected member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, who said, 'It seemed to me he was talking about the sky-high heterosexual divorce rates. Marriage IS under attack -- by straight people. It had nothing to do with the gay marriage movement.'"

While Williams' perspective is certainly understandable, in a time when gays and lesbians are accused of attacking the institution by right-wingers and presidential candidates on a daily basis, anyone can see why there might be confusion about his rhetoric. It was right of him to clarify, but perhaps the perspective of a different segment of the population might enter his thought process the next time the topic comes up.

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Comments

  1. We need to stop overreacting about things like this. Brian Williams was obviously not talking about gay marriage. Let's not be so sensitive and let's instead go after the people that make blatantly obvious homophobic statements.

    Posted by: Jack | Nov 21, 2007 8:06:34 AM


  2. Brian was right to clarify, don't need any suspicions about him in the gay community. I took it that he not only meant straight divorces but also "cultural" attacks, meaning us. He should have said been clearer the first time.

    Posted by: davefromtampa | Nov 21, 2007 8:10:33 AM


  3. I call bullshit. Brian Williams proves himself to be a newsreader with no fucking idea of the one and only group in this country that is accused of attacking marriage.

    If he didn't think for one second that the phrase "marriage under attack" means only gay people, and not straight people at all, he proves himself unqualified and dumb as a post.

    Not only that, he does not clarify the statement at first, no, he whines about being attacked himself. Typical Republican dissembling after being called out on anti-gay hatred. From the anchor who was called the "go-to" guy by the Bush White House.

    Posted by: bamjaya | Nov 21, 2007 8:27:42 AM


  4. "but perhaps the perspective of a different segment of the population might enter his thought process the next time the topic comes up."

    *rolls eyes* How about we stop overreacting to every little comment?

    @bamyaya
    You have -no- idea what the hell you are talking about and Williams is hardly a "go-to" guy for the White House (what the hell does that mean anyways?) Not everyone is out to get you so get over it.

    Posted by: yoshi | Nov 21, 2007 8:37:00 AM


  5. That's a good move Brian!

    I think a response was appropriate, and he responded in a timely manor.

    Now we move on to better things!

    Just my $.02.

    Drew

    Posted by: Drew | Nov 21, 2007 8:44:28 AM


  6. Foolish choice of words, but hardly a hate crime. Let it go.

    And marriage really IS under attack from straights, what with all the divorce and "quickie" marriages in Vegas. But that's hardly news... it's been happening for decades.

    Posted by: Brian | Nov 21, 2007 8:58:18 AM


  7. Christmas on a Cracker! What would have been wrong with posting Brian's explanation and dropped the whiney ass commentary after the fact. YOU MISUNDERSTOOD, HE CLARIFIED. Now, I have much more Royal Things to do and you can't be a Queen if you act like a cry-baby Princess........

    Posted by: Diane, The Late Princess of Wales | Nov 21, 2007 9:04:54 AM


  8. This from Salon.com:

    GOP pollster Frank Luntz previously wrote that "Williams has emerged as the 'go-to network anchor' because of his brains and 'lack of detectable ideological bias.'" Williams is also a confessed admirer of Rush Limbaugh, saying: "I do listen to Rush. I listen to it from a radio in my office, or depending on my day, if I'm in the car, I will listen to Rush" and protesting that "I think Rush has actually yet to get the credit he is due." Williams invited Limbaugh on as a guest several times to the show he hosted prior to becoming anchor and royally referred to Limbaugh as "our friend Rush Limbaugh."

    Consider the sources...

    Posted by: bamjaya | Nov 21, 2007 10:14:10 AM


  9. It's not an overreaction to question the use of a very well-known anti-gay marriage phrase on a national news broadcast. Williams should be more careful about his choice of phrases. Why couldn't he say something like "In an era of skyrocketing divorce rates..." in place of "marriage is
    under attack"?

    Words have power.

    And I am a little annoyed by posters who can't actually comment on the issue, but instead use the space to tell those of us with opinions to 'lighten up' (an attempt to silence real debate).

    Posted by: wetcnt | Nov 21, 2007 10:35:55 AM


  10. Really, what is it about Log Cabin Ex-Gays that makes them love to be judged by adulterers, woman-haters and down-low kkkonservatives?

    This from today's paper:


    At halftime of the Jets’ home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, several hundred men lined one of Giants Stadium’s two pedestrian ramps at Gate D. Three deep in some areas, they whistled and jumped up and down. Then they began an obscenity-laced chant, demanding that the few women in the gathering expose their breasts.

    When one woman appeared to be on the verge of obliging, the hooting and hollering intensified. But then she walked away, and plastic beer bottles and spit went flying. Boos swept through the crowd of unsatisfied men.


    And this is the crowd that votes anti-gay initiatives in state after state.

    Judge my life? Fuck no. I judge your life.

    Posted by: bamjaya | Nov 21, 2007 10:45:00 AM


  11. He's smart enough to know how a comment like that would be perceived. And the statement, marriage "under attack by divorce" doesn't even make sense. How does one's marriage get "attacked" by divorce?
    He's backpedaling. Coward.

    Posted by: JJ | Nov 21, 2007 10:57:36 AM


  12. Williams is serving flaming hogshit for Thanksgiving dinner. Even IF he was not totally or only partially referring to the fight for marriage equality, as stated above, "marriage under attack" is but a variation of a propaganda phrase manufactured by the Antigay Industry and THAT's what most viewers would have "heard," however subconsciously.

    The proof, to me, in his hogshit pudding is the grammatical absurdity of even claiming marriage is under attack because of the divorce rate. No one ever talks of friendship being under attack because friends have arguments and stop talking to each other. The displacement by cRap of virtually all other kinds of CD sales save for Country Western didn't result in people saying, "Classical/pop/jazz/rock music is under attack." The rapid rise in popularity in US public schools of soccer doesn't have ESPN declaring that baseball is under attack. As Matt Damon became a megastar while most people stopped going to films by his friend and former, however briefly, showbiz equal Ben Affleck you didn't hear "Variety" proclaiming, "Affleck Attack!" Etc., etc.

    He's guilty of limited intelligence if nothing else, but given the quote about Limbaugh I believe he's guilty of a lot worse. And for the record, following his death, I was stunned to discover that one of the best friends of Peter Jennings [who I had thought was nothing like that] was Supreme Court Chief Fascist Scalia.

    There's more behind all those well-groomed appearances, expensive suits, and smiling faces of TV's talking heads than always meets the eye or our willingness to disbelieve.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Nov 21, 2007 11:02:24 AM


  13. Questioning a journalist's needlessly ambiguous, sloppy statement is not overreacting. If he meant divorce, he should have said divorce, for god's sake. It's his resposibility to be clear, not ours. Furthermore, by using a phrase commonly employed by the right wing in reference to gay marriage, he should have been well-aware of how it might be interpreted. Okay, he's clarified, fine, move on. But the condescending remarks quoted above are both annoying and unprofessional. A simple clarification and apology for his lack of clarity would have sufficed.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 21, 2007 12:09:08 PM


  14. Jennings? He was an uneducated farm hick from Canada that "looked" the part. Brokaw was caricatured in the movie Broadcast News as the frat-boy moron anchor. Dan Rather was only plucked from Dallas obscurity because he was the first CBS TV correspondent to get on the air immediately after Kennedy was shot. I should add that Jennings got his job when Frank Reynolds was dying of cancer and Jennings had the London Desk. Jennings outmaneuvered Max Robinson for the sole anchor position (not exactly a challenge give that Robinson was black and in Chicago--Vargas had similar issues). Further, Ted Koppel (another mega-brain) picked up Nightline when Reynolds died. The irony here is that Jennings himself died on the job of cancer. Koppel was toppled by Kimmel (who's probably a lot smarter), and the brouhaha over Koppel's final contract cost Bill Maher his show--the deal was done before 9-11.

    Now we have Williams, repeating or emulating Brokaw in the art of utterly witless bromides. In this case, we can say that there is nothing about the marriage of the QEII and hubby Mountbatten that suggests anything by way of comparison to a successful marriage or successful parenthood. For one thing, they weren't allowed to get a divorce despite hubby's penchant for sleeping around. For another, divorce rates have been stable or decreasing since the mid 1970's. The entire argument was tissue paper thin.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Nov 21, 2007 12:52:36 PM


  15. This is bullshit. Divorce is not an attack. Divorce is legal and has been for a very long time.

    He used a phrase lifted from Repug and religious conservative anti-gay rhetoric, and the least he could do is express that he understands the weight of the phrase. But no. He plays the victim here.

    He is a journalist and he knows full well the power of words. The use of the phrase initially could have been written off as an accidental gaffe, but this whining response from Williams only serves to reinforce the idea that he used the phrase purposefully.

    Posted by: Gregg | Nov 21, 2007 1:19:07 PM


  16. What a back-pedaling liar. "when, as I put it, marriage seems under attack"?? He never said seems in the original broadcast.
    Besides the divorce rates are at their lowest since 1970.

    Posted by: Chester | Nov 21, 2007 1:50:54 PM


  17. The comment just doesn`t make any sense except from a perspective based on paranoia.

    For marriage to be `under attack,` someone would have to be attacking marriage or married people.
    Same sex couples` marriages are, indeed, under attack by right wing bigots, but someone else getting divorced in no way `attacks` my marriage or anyone else`s.
    It`s a little hard to believe he`s being sincere. Would he begin a story on the Republican presidential candidates by mentioning that nearly all of them are `attacking` marriage (i.e. they are divorced} while the Democratic candidates are `saving` it.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 21, 2007 3:09:07 PM


  18. The comment just doesn`t make any sense except from a perspective based on paranoia.

    For marriage to be `under attack,` someone would have to be attacking marriage or married people.
    Same sex couples` marriages are, indeed, under attack by right wing bigots, but someone else getting divorced in no way `attacks` my marriage or anyone else`s.
    It`s a little hard to believe he`s being sincere. Would he begin a story on the Republican presidential candidates by mentioning that nearly all of them are `attacking` marriage (i.e. they are divorced} while the Democratic candidates are `saving` it.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 21, 2007 3:09:55 PM


  19. The comment just doesn`t make any sense except from a perspective based on paranoia.

    For marriage to be `under attack,` someone would have to be attacking marriage or married people.
    Same sex couples` marriages are, indeed, under attack by right wing bigots, but someone else getting divorced in no way `attacks` my marriage or anyone else`s.
    It`s a little hard to believe he`s being sincere. Would he begin a story on the Republican presidential candidates by mentioning that nearly all of them are `attacking` marriage (i.e. they are divorced} while the Democratic candidates are `saving` it.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 21, 2007 3:10:29 PM


  20. I don't buy it. He didn't say anything about divorce. And he should damn well know the "marriage is under attack" phrase is used, 10 times out of 10, to denote gays wanting marriage rights. I have NEVER heard it used to discuss the divorce rate. It's ludicrous and more than a bit cynical for him to expect anyone to swallow that crap. I'm not watching NBC Nightly News, again. I get a better balance off the internet.

    Posted by: jemmytee | Nov 21, 2007 4:51:11 PM


  21. Doesn't everyone know that "attack" = crumbling from within? How could his statement be misinterpreted?

    Posted by: Robguy | Nov 21, 2007 7:39:14 PM


  22. Y'all should write this on NBC Nightly News's blog under that specific webpage. It would help enlighten not just us gay and gay-friendly readers of this blog here, but the other not-so-gay-friendly readers out there as well. You all have really great points. I wish people were able to read them as well on the source blog itself.

    Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2007 2:13:43 AM


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