The journalist appeared unable to contain his wonder as he spoke over footage of U.S. Navy destroyers launching Tomahawk missiles toward a Syrian military airfield. He even misused a Leonard Cohen lyric to set the scene.
Brian Williams waxing lyrical about the beauty of weapons—what in the world is this? pic.twitter.com/3hoxCgCfP1— Taniel (@Taniel) April 7, 2017
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said.
He then lifted a line from late singer-songwriter Cohen’s 1988 hit “First We Take Manhattan,” saying, “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.”
Williams went on to describe the images as “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them a brief flight over to this airfield.”
Internet users tore into Williams over his “surreal” commentary of the strikes, which were carried out following a chemical weapon attack allegedly ordered by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Twitter users brought up Williams’ exaggeration of his accounts of his Iraq War reporting, accused him of trying to glorify war and suggested he’d completely misinterpreted the lyric.
Here’s a sampling of the responses:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: I need a war— ishmael n. daro 🍳 (@iD4RO) April 7, 2017
TRUMP: Here's an airstrike
WILLIAMS: Mm those missiles on the ship look beautiful... I was just there
@Taniel can tell Brian really got the essence of Leonard Cohen's work— Gaetano Filangieri (@andyfrankly) April 7, 2017
Brian Williams misinterpreting a Leonard Cohen lyric in an attempt to glorify war is hysterical in that I both laughed and lost my mind.— Brand Manager (@MadeOfSpiders) April 7, 2017
Oh did Brian Williams drape himself in the glories of war as he saw it again— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) April 7, 2017
You'd think a guy who had experienced the horrors of a missile attack like Brian Williams wouldn't be so enthralled by a missile attack.— Everywhere Jeet (@Ugarles) April 7, 2017
Brian Williams calls DOD video of missile strikes "beautiful", unironically quotes Leonard Cohen, "Im guided by the beauty of our weapons"— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) April 7, 2017
This is truly a surreal segment. Brian Williams: "I am guided by the beauty of our weapons." https://t.co/85TNZxkNa8— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) April 7, 2017
The saddest thing here is Brian Williams is probably not lying this time. He likely thinks missile strikes are beautiful. https://t.co/11XnE4EbjO— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) April 7, 2017
Dear Brian Williams,— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) April 7, 2017
There is nothing "beautiful" about war. Hell only exists because humans keep creating it.
Brian Williams is quoting Aaron Sorkin to Chris Matthews to discuss Syria— Brendan O'Connor (@_grendan) April 7, 2017
@Taniel Wtf is wrong with Brian Williams....jesus....— Rypley Rendar (@Rypley2) April 7, 2017
@Taniel I'm a fan of Brian Williams but I must say going into description about its beauty leaves me speechless, it seems wrong on any level its war— Kris MG (@krismess_kool) April 7, 2017