What’s Wrong With Brian Williams and His “Beautiful” Syria Missiles?


The U.S. launched the missile attack in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack that claimed the lives of roughly 70 civilians, including at least 10 children. U.S. officials determined Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for ordering the attack.

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams set off a firestorm online after he called footage of missiles launching into Syria Thursday night “beautiful” in a segment on his show, “The 11th Hour.”

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

“They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them what is a brief flight over to this airfield,” he added, then asked his guest, “What did they hit?”

The song Williams quoted is “First We Take Manhattan,” one of Cohen’s best-known tracks. Here’s the line Williams mentioned in context:

I’m guided by a signal in the heavens
I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin
I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

The Cohen who died in November at age 82, had described the work in 1988 as “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 – but Psychic Terrorism,” he said.