AN AMERICAN news host has apologised after he mused on air that Robin Williams' children would now be left without a father because he was "such a coward" to have taken his own life.

During coverage of the comic superstar's death, Shepard Smith spoke about what the world has lost, then seemed to criticise the deceased for his actions causing so much pain to the family left behind.

He quoted Williams' adult daughter Zelda, then said, "One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight.".

"Because their father killed himself in a fit of depression.

"It's hard to imagine, isn't it?

"You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they're in their mid-20s, and they're inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known.

"And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you're such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it."

In his apology, Smith said he was "wondering aloud" about what could have driven the actor to end his life.

"But no matter how you process it: Look at what this family is going through," he said.

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