MSNBC's Brian Williams said the U.S. used nuclear weapons against Japan "in anger" Friday, an expression sure to upset those who recognize the decision potentially saved hundreds of thousands of lives by bringing about a swift end to World War II.
The decision by President Harry Truman to drop the atomic bomb is again under discussion after President Obama's trip to Hiroshima this week. Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to ever visit the city. In a ceremony alongside Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe Friday, he laid a ceremonial wreath and gave remarks about putting diplomacy before warfare.
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While Obama did not apologize for the U.S. using the atomic bomb, he did say "death fell from the sky" in Hiroshima.
In the clip flagged by NewsBusters, fellow MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell prefaced Williams' commentary by praising former Sens. Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) and Sam Nunn (D., Ga.) for the bipartisan nuclear threat initiative they spearheaded, saying "I don't think they get enough credit for it."
"That they controlled, through a bipartisan act of Congress, controlled the spread of nuclear materials, non-state actors, materials even in this age of terror, all these decades after the end of the Cold War is just remarkable, and I don't think they get enough credit for it," Mitchell said.
"It is, and that is still the threat that people worry about, that this material will fall into the wrong hands," Williams said. "If people have found the U.S. to be preachy in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the use of nuclear weapons, it’s because we’re the only nation to have used them in anger. Sometimes, I am amazed that the world has been without these weapons all the years since, but it is a point of great pride by the people who have seen to it."
Mitchell said the network had "pride" in Williams "for helping us understand the context better."
According to NewsBusters, Williams' 60th-anniversary segment on Hiroshima in 2005 included him pressing Enola Gay pilot Dutch Van Kirk on whether he felt remorse over his actions.
While the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed more than an estimated 100,000 people, experts believe an invasion of Japan could have brought about casualties in the millions for the Allies and Japanese. Japan quickly surrendered after the atomic bomb that leveled Nagasaki, officially ending the global conflict.
Truman said he never regretted his decision to order use of the bomb, pointing out it ended the war.
Williams was formerly the anchor of NBC Nightly News before he was found to have fabricated or exaggerated multiple stories he had covered. He was suspended, lost his prestigious anchor job and was demoted to serving as an occasional daytime anchor on NBC's left-leaning cable affiliate.