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Chris Hayes follows Bill Maher with 'hero' slip up

Paula Duffy's picture

Chris Hayes of MSNBC used the word "heroes" in a way that displeased many on both sides of the political spectrum and has apologized for his remarks today.

Chris Hayes tried to explain his discomfort with calling our fallen military members heroes. Hayes is a very thoughtful man who now realizes that you don't mess with the characterization of the fallen during the fight against terrorism.

His attempt to express his concern that tying the word "heroes" to those who lost their lives in the service of their country, puts their efforts into a context that makes it seem their sacrifice was for a worthy cause.

"I feel… uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. "

Hayes left room to be wrong, as he said at the end of his remarks."But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that."

Whether you agree or disagree with how he interprets the word "heroes", one cannot ignore the fact that Chris Hayes tried in an intellectually curious way to explore his discomfort on the air. He went on to identify how he views the use of the term.

"I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, and things like that. "

In his apology of today he admonishes himself without justification, a rarity and one that demonstrates an understanding of how he unnerved and offended many as we celebrated Memorial Day.

"On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word “hero” to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don’t think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I’ve set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that." Full text of his remarks is linked below.

It is unclear if MSNBC will take any action regarding Chris Hayes' contract with the network. He anchors his own show on weekends, "Up with Chris Hayes" on which he made his blunder as well as acting as an analyst and substitute host for the network's evening shows like "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell".

Bill Maher famously got into hot water in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when he disagreed with the use of the word "cowards" as it related to the terrorists who directed three airplanes into buildings and another that intended to do the same.

Maher said at the time, "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building - say what you want about it. It's not cowardly."

The program hosted by Maher at that time, "Politically Incorrect" was not renewed after its season ended and it put Bill Maher into the political maelstrom that surrounded the resulting invasion of Afghanistan and then the war with Iraq.

Chris Hayes' discomfort as he called it with tying "heroes" to military action was really Maher's point turned 180 degrees. Maher was being precise and without emotion when he said that a suicide mission isn't cowardly, while watching bombs hit targets from a war room somewhere fits the bill better.

That was not to be tolerated as the smoldering embers of the World Trade Center towers were being televised around the clock.

Chris Hayes' choice of the Memorial Day weekend for examining the ties between heroes and government justification for war was bad timing as well. But, it's hard to see how anytime would be good for that intellectual exercise in the world today.

Link to full text of apology by Chris Hayes, here.

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