Savannah Guthrie didn’t win many new fans during her interview with Covington Catholic High School kid Nicholas Sandmann about his viral video standoff at the Lincoln Memorial — and it was the same scenario Thursday after she spoke with Nathan Phillips.
The Today show anchor interviewed the Native American elder, who said he was “upset” by Sandmann’s interview, saying the student sounded “coached,” had airs of “insincerity.” Nonetheless, Phillipps said, “I forgive him” — not that Sandmann had apologized.
“Even though I’m angry, I still have that forgiveness in my heart for those students.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 24, 2019
Guthrie also spent time grilling Phillips about his military service, which is sparking backlash on the internet. “There has also been some question about the nature of your military service and this is a good chance to clear it up,” she said. “You were a veteran. You served in the Marine Corps. Some have said you were a Vietnam veteran — I don’t believe you have said that. What exactly is the nature of your service?”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 24, 2019
Phillips answered that while he was a Marine during the Vietnam War era, he wasn’t deployed there. “What I’ve always said is that I’ve never stepped foot in South Vietnam. I don’t know how much clearer that can be,” he replied.
While he wasn’t “in country,” Phillips felt the shunning effects that veterans were faced with after the war. “When I was discharged May 5, 1976, I was told when I got out: ‘Don’t wear your uniform. Don’t say you’re a veteran people don’t like you out there.'” (Per the VA guidelines, he would still be considered a Vietnam era vet.)
Guthrie has been slammed online for making Phillips defend his service history.
Why is she even asking that question!! Go back to bed Savannah
— Mimirocks (@mimirocks63) January 24, 2019
Seriously, once again attacking the minority! She was so soft with the kid and asks Mr. Phillips about his military service? Wow! So disappointed in Savannah Guthrie! I thought she was better than this.
— Bernadette Higgins (@brnihigg) January 24, 2019
Wow, @SavannahGuthrie this is cold.
I’m sick to my stomach that you went there.
— 💫Patsy💥Dryden ☘️🌊🌹 (@Patta47cake) January 24, 2019
Why does he need to “clear up” something OTHER people said. He’s not on trial.
He doesn’t need to explain sh*t. Ugh, why was this even asked?!?!
— Real V-Rose (@The_Real_V_Rose) January 24, 2019
I'm serious about to lose any respect for the Today show. Why so soft on those on camera with disrespectful behavior but you'll dive deep into a person of colors background hoping to discredit them. Where's the interview asking the parents asking why they allow this behavior
— kathyking (@kathykiscool) January 24, 2019
They should have both been treated the same for the interview. Yesterday you were like a fairy godmother with a soft soothing voice throwing out soft slow pitches. Today you are throwing out fastballs like he's on trial. Fine…do both interviews but do them without bias.
— Joyous (@joiousheart) January 24, 2019
Still more service than the person in the WH–you know the one with bone spurs. New low for you, Savannah. Sad. @CBSThisMorning looks better everyday.
— Go to Hell 59 Times (@ltlkoala11) January 24, 2019
— Lo 🏳️🌈 (@lo_down_woman) January 24, 2019
What the hell has that got to do with anything? He's not on trial. This sounds like an interrogation. A Native American Elder who tried to prevent a conflict treated like a criminal. Next you'll ask him if he's ever been arrested & if he says no, you'll cast doubt on that 2. JFC!
— feral (@shuboogie) January 24, 2019
Wow, Savannah! Truly a banner week in your career!
— 😑 (@megazzzzzz) January 24, 2019
More than one Twitter user made comparisons to Megyn Kelly, who was fired from Today last year.
So once nbc got rid of megyn Kelly, savannah decided she wanted to step into the role of most unlikeable and biggest joke to journalism? This is disgraceful.
— Samantha Laughlin (@ChiTownSam723) January 24, 2019
@SavannahGuthrie So I see you’ve decided to become Megyn Kelly now that she got canned. Shame on you.
— Individual – Not the 1 (@MikeJBruno) January 24, 2019
Apparently you're auditioning for Megyn Kelly's old job…
— Susan Fraser 🇨🇦 (@InvPac) January 24, 2019
Yet some are supportive of the interview. After all, there is no shortage of amateur sleuths online trying to dig up dirt on Phillips’s time in the military.
His answer was incomplete and evasive . No marine ever hid his service!!
— rich (@cazooguy) January 24, 2019
He was a reservist. Not active duty.
— Terry Montgomery (@Montgomey51) January 24, 2019
I don't even believe him when he says he was in the marines. too shifty
— Aq (@aqwpz1) January 24, 2019
Guthrie hasn’t yet responded to the backlash.
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