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Brian Williams Gloriously Roasted Matt Gaetz For Insulting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Brian Williams on MSNBC roasts Rep. Matt Gaetz

On his MSNBC show “The 11th Hour,” Brian Williams gave no quarter to the latest in awfulness from Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. Gaetz, you may recall, is currently being looked at for a host of alleged terrible activities, including what could become a sex trafficking charge.

Gaetz, a sentient troll doll somehow elected to Congressional office, recently mocked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on Twitter. Gaetz wrote, “With Generals like this it’s no wonder we’ve fought considerably more wars than we’ve won.” He’s continued to hurl further attacks on military brass and their apparent “wokeness” from the safety of his Twitter account.

On “The 11th Hour,” Williams closed out by excoriating Gaetz’s behavior. “Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who did not serve but did smirk while the General was testifying … Easy enough to lob a comment like that from the cheap seats,” Williams began. He then explained the General’s longstanding service to the non-serving Gaetz, “the same Matt Gaetz who faces potential sex trafficking charges, which he denies.”

And for an excellent excerpt:

Why would Gaetz, who fancies himself a patriot, be lambasting a decorated combat veteran who also happens to be the United States’ highest-ranking military officer? That would be because Milley testified in Congress about the importance of teaching students at West Point and others in the military to, well, have a deeper understanding of their country, “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.” The horror!

Milley pushed back strongly against the GOP’s self-induced moral panic over “critical race theory.” Anything remotely resembling instruction in critical thinking skills now gets branded as “critical race theory,” which is a longstanding academic and legal framework for understanding institutional racism in America.

Republicans have in recent months mostly succeeded in turning the phrase “critical race theory” into a scaremongering tactic nationwide. When Republicans decry “critical race theory,” what they really mean is that they’re against anything that teaches any kind of anti-racism or the enduring impact of American racism. The term has also come to be conflated with the teaching or discussion of most topics that fall under the “social justice” umbrella, including LGBTQIA+ rights, climate and environmental issues, and income inequality. Basically, it’s being used as a catch-all for anything Republicans disagree with.

In the remarks that earned Gaetz’s pissy Tweets, Milley was responding to Gaetz’s contention and contempt that the military was becoming too “woke.” Milley also expressed his desire to learn more about “white rage,” and specifically called attention to the primarily white crowd of insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. You know, Gaetz’s sort of crowd when he’s not allegedly sex trafficking.

It would seem that Gen. Milley has a better grasp on what’s going on here than a great many Americans, who have worked themselves into a froth over the idea of children (and adults) being educated about the realities of inequality, prejudice, and privilege that fuel this nation. In the Congressional testimony that earned Gaetz’s ire—Gaetz can be seen dismissively shaking his head—Milley replied to Gaetz’s absurd claims:

“First of all, on the issue of critical race theory, a lot of us have to get smarter on whatever the theory is, but I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open minded and be widely read. And the United States military academy is a university, and it is important that we train and we understand. I want to understand white rage — and I’m white…So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here and I do want analyze it. It’s important that we understand that.

“I’ve read Mao Tse-tung. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a Communist,” he continued. “So what is wrong with understanding? Having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?

Milley also seemed to be calling out Gaetz directly when he said, “I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being ‘woke’ or something else.” (By the way, folks, being “woke” is not a bad thing.) You can watch Milley’s entire response here:

This has been your weekly, nay, daily reminder that Matt Gaetz is a hypocritical troll who is likely also allegedly a criminal!

(via Twitter, Huffpo, Variety, image: MSNBC/screengrab)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.