When old journalists should fade away

For the past few hours, it’s painful watching what’s become of Tom Brokaw, the once esteemed NBC News anchor who got into an online mess when he suggested Hispanics have an assimilation problem.

Brokaw, 78, proved his age when he fumbled through a segment on “Meet the Press” on the border wall and the fears of people that people will have “brown grandbabbies.”

“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,” he said. “And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”

“And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always a part of America, is, in some ways, troubling,” panelist Yamiche Alcindor of PBS countered.

“We as a community are creating the new America right before your very eyes, Mr. Brokaw,” the Latino Rebels web site said. “Sorry if it doesn’t fit your perceptions of what America should be like. That future is bilingual, bicultural, at times in English, other times in Spanish. Our community is defining this future. Not you.”

Two thirds of Hispanics in the United States were born here, it said.

Brokaw’s subsequent apology was as clumsy as his original comments.

NBC News had no comment on the controversy and edited out the comments when it posted online video of the “Meet the Press” segment.

Meanwhile, people apparently scrambled to determine what Brokaw was talking about.