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Tom Brokaw

Meet the Press 2008

Thomas John Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He is the only person to host all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press. He now serves as a Special Correspondent for NBC News and works on documentaries for other outlets.

Along with Peter Jennings at ABC News and Dan Rather at CBS News, Brokaw was one of the "Big Three" news anchors in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s. The three all hosted their network's flagship nightly news programs for over 20 years, and all three started and retired within a year of each other.

Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota, the son of Eugenia "Jean" who worked in sales and as a post-office clerk, and Anthony Orville "Red" Brokaw . He was the eldest of their three sons and was named after his maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Conley. His father was a descendant of Huguenot immigrants Bourgon and Catherine (nee Le Fèvre) Broucard, and his mother was Irish-American. His paternal great-grandfather, Richard P. Brokaw, founded the town of Bristol, South Dakota, and the Brokaw House, a small hotel and the first structure in Bristol.

Brokaw's father was a construction foreman for the Army Corps of Engineers. He worked at the Black Hills Ordnance Depot  and helped construct Fort Randall Dam; his job often required the family to resettle during Brokaw's early childhood. The Brokaws lived for short periods in Bristol, Igloo and Pickstown, before settling in Yankton, where Brokaw attended high school.

As a high school student attending Yankton Senior High School, Brokaw was governor of South Dakota American Legion Boys State, and in that capacity he accompanied then South Dakota Governor Joe Foss to New York for a joint appearance on a TV game show. It was to be the beginning of a long relationship with Foss, whom Brokaw would later feature in his book about World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation. Brokaw also became an Advisory Board member of the Joe Foss Institute.

Tom Brokaw matriculated at the University of Iowa in Iowa City but dropped out after a year as he apparently failed to keep up in his studies, in his words majoring in "beer and co-eds"; in tribute to his fun loving freshman year, the Airliner Bar has named a booth in his honor. He received his B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1964.

Broadcasting career

Brokaw's television career began at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa followed by stints at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, and WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, In 1966, he joined NBC News, reporting from California and anchoring the 11 p.m. news for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. In 1973, NBC made Brokaw White House correspondent, covering the Watergate scandal, and anchor of the Saturday editions of Nightly News. He became host of NBC's Today Show in 1976 and remained in the job until 1982.

On April 5, 1982, Brokaw began co-anchoring NBC Nightly News from New York with Roger Mudd in Washington. After a year, NBC News president Reuven Frank concluded that the dual-anchor program was not working and selected Brokaw to be sole anchor. The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw commenced on September 5, 1983. Among other news items, he covered the Challenger disaster, EDSA Revolution, Loma Prieta earthquake, fall of the Berlin Wall and Hurricane Andrew.

Brokow scored a major coup when, on November 9, 1989, he was the first English-language broadcast journalist to report opening of the Berlin Wall. Brokow attended a televised press conference organized in East Berlin by Günter Schabowski, press spokesman for the East German Politburo, which had just decided to allow East Berliners to cross to the West without prior approval. When Schabowski was asked when this epoch-making freedom would take effect, he glanced through his notes, then said, sofort, unverzüglich touching off a stampede of East Berliners to the Wall. Brokow subsequently obtained an interview with Schabowski, who when pressed repeated his "immediately" statement. Later that evening Brokow reported from the west side of the Brandenburg Gate on this announcement and the pandemonium that had broken out in East Berlin because of it.

In 2002, NBC announced that Brokaw would retire as anchor of the NBC Nightly News following the 2004 Presidential election, to be succeeded by Brian Williams. Brokaw would remain with NBC News in a part-time capacity through 2014, serving as an analyst and anchoring and producing documentary programs. Brokaw closed his final Nightly News broadcast in front of 15 thousand viewers on NBC on December 1, 2004, by saying: That's Nightly News for this Wednesday night. I'm Tom Brokaw. You'll see Brian Williams here tomorrow night; and I'll see you along the way.

By the end of his time as Nightly News anchor, Brokaw was regarded as the most popular news personality in the United States. Nightly News had moved into first place in the Nielsen ratings in late 1996 and held on to the spot for the remainder of Brokaw's tenure on the program, placing him ahead of ABC's Peter Jennings and World News Tonight, and CBS's Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News.

Along with Jennings and Rather, Brokaw helped usher in the era of the TV news anchor as a lavishly compensated, globe-trotting star in the 1980s. The magnitude of a news event could be measured by whether Brokaw and his counterparts on the other two networks showed up on the scene. Brokaw's retirement in December 2004, followed by Rather's ouster from the CBS Evening News in March 2005, and Jennings' death in August 2005, brought that era to a close.

After leaving the anchor chair, Brokaw remained at NBC as Special Correspondent, providing periodic reports for Nightly News. He served as an NBC analyst during the 2008 presidential election campaign and moderated the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain at Belmont University. He reported documentaries for the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and in 2006 delivered one of the eulogies during the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford.

On June 13, 2008, when NBC interrupted its regular programming to announce the sudden death of NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert, Brokaw served as the announcer. A week later, NBC announced that Brokaw would serve as host of Meet the Press on an interim basis. He was succeeded by David Gregory in December 2008

Brokaw serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Rescue Committee and the Mayo Clinic. He is also a member of the Howard University School of Communications Board of Visitors and a trustee of the University of South Dakota, the Norton Simon Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the International Rescue Committee. He also provides the voiceover for a University of Iowa advertisement that airs on television during Iowa Hawkeyes athletic events.

Personal life

Since 1962, Brokaw has been married to Meredith Lynn Auld, who is an author and Miss South Dakota 1959. They have three daughters, Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah. He and his wife spend considerable time at their ranch on the West Boulder River near Livingston, Montana, which they bought in 1989.

On September 6, 2012, Brokaw was hospitalized after appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He later tweeted that he was "All well" and explained his illness as having accidentally taken half a dose of Ambien in the morning.

Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow, in August 2013 at the Mayo Clinic. Brokaw and his physicians are "very encouraged with his progress." He has continued to work for NBC throughout his treatments. On December 21, 2014, he announced that his cancer is in full remission.

 

Meet the Press Moderators

Martha Rountree

Ned Brooks

Lawrence E. Spivak

Bill Monroe

Roger Mudd

Marvin Kalb

Chris Wallace

Garrick Utley

Tim Russert

Tom Brokaw

David Gregory

F. Chuck Todd

 

 

 

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