News presenter criticised for quoting Leonard Cohen lyrics to describe ‘beautiful’ Syrian airstrikes

Brian Williams paid homage to Cohen’s song ‘First We Take Manhattan’

US news anchor Brian Williams has been criticised after quoting Leonard Cohen lyrics when reporting on the United States’ missile strike in Syria.

Yesterday (April 6) saw President Trump order a missile strike in response to Assad’s chemical attack on innocent civilians, which included children.

Reporting the news on MSNBC, Williams described the footage as “beautiful” and quoted Cohen’s ‘First We Take Manhattan’.

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said, adding: “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.’ And they are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is, for them, a brief flight over this airfield.”

In a 1988 interview, Cohen described the song as “a terrorist song,” continuing: “I think it’s a response to terrorism. There’s something about terrorism that I’ve always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive. I don’t like it when it’s manifested on the physical plane—I don’t really enjoy the terrorist activities.”

Watch Williams’ comments below and listen to Cohen’s track.

Williams has since be criticised for his comments, with critics arguing that he was “glorifying” the airstrikes.

.@medeabenjamin responds to Brian Williams’s comments on the US strike on Syria: “It’s absolutely disgusting, this glorification of weapons” pic.twitter.com/RRpTgNtaeN

— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 7, 2017

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