MSNBC scrubbed former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s false suggestion on Friday that Adolf Hitler did not order the deaths of “ethnic Germans” during the Holocaust while he condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
McFaul offered his take on The Rachel Maddow Show Friday night, saying he heard a Ukrainian commentator and a Russian journalist say that Hitler did not kill “ethnic Germans” compared to Putin’s attacks against Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens.
McFaul expressed his agreement with the false sentiment, despite people throughout Europe—including in Germany—suffering violent deaths during the Holocaust.
MSNBC later tweeted out McFaul’s statement without attribution Friday night, instead linking to a clip of his comments. “One difference between Putin and Hitler is that Hitler didn’t kill ethnic Germans, German-speaking people,” the tweet, which has since been deleted, read. “Putin slaughters the very people he said he has come to liberate.”
McFaul was promptly bashed on Twitter for believing the statement was permissible in the first place. He initially apologized for the remarks Saturday morning, attributing the ignorance of history, after a career in international diplomacy, to a long day of television appearances.
“I slipped late last night and violated an unwritten taboo—never compare Hitler with anyone,” he tweeted. “I agree. He was incomparably evil. I won’t do it again.”
After multiple hours of arguing with critics on Twitter about his comments, he later admitted he did not know Hitler killed Germans from many different ethnic backgrounds and doubled down on never comparing things to Hitler again.
“I made a mistake. I apologize. I will never make comparisons to Hitler again,” he wrote. “Without historical analogizing, I will keep my analysis and comments focused on the present evil—Putin.”
The Rachel Maddow Show also apologized for the tweet, acknowledging Hitler’s slaughter of Germans and saying “the historical record is clear.”
“We tweeted out part of an inaccurate statement made last night by former Ambassador Michael McFaul without attribution, and we regret doing so,” it tweeted. “We have since removed the tweet.”