Brian Williams Slammed for Quoting Leonard Cohen Lyrics to Describe "Beautiful" Syrian Airstrike

The American news anchor referenced the late Canadian songwriter's "First We Take Manhattan"
Brian Williams Slammed for Quoting Leonard Cohen Lyrics to Describe "Beautiful" Syrian Airstrike
In delivering news of the United States' missile strike in Syria yesterday evening (April 6), MSNBC anchor Brian Williams quoted late Canadian songwriting legend Leonard Cohen in describing the strike as "beautiful." 

Reporting on the attack, Williams pulled a line from Cohen's 1988 song "First We Take Manhattan," saying, "We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean...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."

As NME points out, Cohen detailed the song in a 1988 interview as "a terrorist song," adding, "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."

Critics of Williams's comments say he was "glorifying" the attack by using Cohen's lyrics.

Watch footage of the broadcast in the player below.



Pick up a copy of The Songs of Leonard Cohen via Umusic.