Thomas John Brokaw (; born February 6, 1940) is an American television journalist and author. He was the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years (1982–2004). He is the only person to have hosted 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 his competitors 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, 1990s and early 2000s. The three hosted their networks' flagship nightly news programs for over 20 years, and all three started and retired from the anchor chair (or died, in Jennings' case) with Dan Rather notably being fired from CBS due to false reports broadcast on 60 Minutes II within a year of each other.Brokaw has also written several books on American history and society in the 20th century. He is the author of The Greatest Generation (1998) and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was awarded to him by President Barack Obama in 2014.
1966-1981: Early years. Brokaw's television career began at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa followed by stints at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, and WSB-TV in Atlanta, In 1966, he joined NBC News, reporting from Los Angeles and anchoring the 11:00 pm news for KNBC. 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 1981. He kept a closely guarded secret for many years, in 2017 Brokaw wrote of having been offered – and having promptly turned down – the press secretary position in the Nixon White House in 1969. While living in California before Nixon made his political comeback, Brokaw had come to know H. R. 'Bob' Haldeman (White House chief of staff and initiator of the offer) as well as Nixon's press secretary, Ron Ziegler, and others members of the White House staff.In 2019, Brokaw wrote a book entitled, "The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate", about his experiences working as a reporter and experiences as a member of the White House press corps. 1982-2004: NBC Nightly News. 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. Brokaw scored a major coup when, on November 9, 1989, he was the first English-language broadcast journalist to report the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Brokaw attended a televised press conference organized in East Berlin by Günter Schabowski, press spokesman for East German Politburo, which had just decided to allow its citizens to apply to permanently leave the country through its border with West Germany. When Schabowski was asked when this loosening of regulations would take effect, he glanced through his notes, then said, "sofort, unverzüglich" ("immediately, without delay"), touching off a stampede of East Berliners to the Wall. Brokaw had an interview with Schabowski after the press conference, who repeated his "immediately" statement when pressed. Later that evening Brokaw reported from the west side of Brandenburg Gate on this announcement and pandemonium that had broken out in East Berlin because of it.As anchor, Brokaw conducted the first one-on-one American television interviews with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He and Katie Couric hosted a prime-time newsmagazine, Now, that aired from 1993 to 1994 before being folded into the multi-night Dateline NBC program.Also, in 1993, on the first broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, in response to David Letterman's monologue containing jokes about NBC, Brokaw walked on stage in a surprise cameo (accompanied by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra playing the NBC Nightly News theme). He congratulated Letterman on his new show and wished him well, but also stated he was disappointed and shocked; he subsequently walked over to the man holding the cue cards, took two, and remarked, "These last two jokes are the intellectual property of NBC!", leaving the stage afterwards. Letterman then remarked, "Who would have thought you would ever hear the words 'intellectual property' and 'NBC' in the same sentence?"Richard Jewell sued NBC News for this statement, made by Brokaw about the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, "The speculation is that the FBI is close to making the case. They probably have enough to arrest [Jewell] right now, probably enough to prosecute him, but you always want to have enough to convict him as well. There are still some holes in this case." Even though NBC stood by its story, the network agreed to pay Jewell $500,000. On September 11, 2001, Brokaw joined Katie Couric and Matt Lauer around 9:30 a.m., following the live attack on the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and continued to anchor all day, until after midnight. Following the collapse of the second tower, Brokaw observed: "This is war. This is a declaration and an execution of an attack on the United States." He continued to anchor coverage to midnight on the following two days. Later that month, a letter containing anthrax was addressed to him as part of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Brokaw was not harmed, but two NBC News employees were infected. In 2008, he testified before the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism about the anthrax attacks, publicly discussing his experiences for the first time in a detailed, day-by-day account.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 from that point onwards, serving as an analyst and anchoring and producing documentary programs. Brokaw closed his final Nightly News broadcast in front of 15.7 million viewers on NBC on December 1, 2004, by saying: Well the time is here. We've been through a lot together through dark days and nights and seasons of hope and joy. Whatever the story, I had only one objective, to get it right. When I failed, it was personally painful, and there was no greater urgency than course correction. On those occasions, I was grateful for your forbearance and always mindful that your patience and attention didn't come with a lifetime warranty. I was not alone here, of course. I am simply the most conspicuous part of a large, thoroughly dedicated and professional staff that extends from just beyond these cameras, across the country, and around the world. In too many instances, in places of grave danger and personal hardship and they're family to me. What have I learned here? More than we have time to recount this evening, but the enduring lessons through the decades are these: it's not the questions that get us in trouble, it's the answers. And just as important, no one person has all the answers. Just ask a member of the generation that I came to know well, the men and women who came of age in the Great Depression who had great personal sacrifice, saved the world during World War II and returned home to dedicate their lives to improving the nation they had already served so nobly. They weren't perfect, no generation is, but this one left a large and vital legacy of common effort to find common ground here and abroad in which to solve our most vexing problems. They did not give up their personal beliefs and greatest passions, but they never stopped learning from each other and most of all, they did not give up on the idea that we're all in this together, we still are. And it is in that spirit that I say, thanks, for all that I have learned from you. That's been my richest reward. 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 ousting from the CBS Evening News in March 2005, and Jennings's death in August 2005, brought that era to a close. 2004-present: After Nightly News. 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.In 2011 Brokaw began hosting The Boys in the Hall, a baseball documentary series for Fox Sports Net.In December 2012, Brokaw starred in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concert, with live audiences of 84,000. The concert, titled Home for the Holidays, was nationally televised in December 2013.In April 2014, a new broadcast facility opened on the Universal Studios Hollywood lot, and named in Brokaw's honor as the Brokaw News Center. The facility houses KNBC-TV, Telemundo owned-and-operated station KVEA, and the Los Angeles bureau of NBC News. In November 2014, President Barack Obama presented Brokaw with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, American's highest civilian honor. He received the honor with the citation, "The chronicler of the Greatest Generation...we celebrate him as one of our nation’s greatest journalists".On March 11, 2016, Brokaw gave one of the eulogies for former First Lady Nancy Reagan at her funeral. He spoke about his relationship with both the Reagans as a reporter and later anchor.
Since 1962, Brokaw has been married to author Meredith Lynn Auld. They have three daughters: Jennifer, Andrea, and Sarah. Brokaw and his wife spend considerable time at their ranch 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. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer, 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, Brokaw announced that his cancer is in full remission.In 2018, Brokaw was accused of unwanted sexual advances toward two women in the 1990s. Brokaw denied the allegations. In response to the allegations, former colleagues Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Maria Shriver, Kelly O'Donnell, and 64 others, signed a letter characterizing Brokaw as "a man of tremendous decency and integrity".
Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota, the son of Eugenia "Jean" (née Conley; 1917–2011), who worked in sales and as a post-office clerk, and Anthony Orville "Red" Brokaw (1912–1982). He was the eldest of their three sons (brothers named William and Michael) and named for his maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Conley. His father was a descendant of Huguenot immigrants Bourgon and Catherine (née Le Fèvre) Broucard, and his mother was Irish-American, although the origin of the name Brokaw is contested. 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 (BHOD) and helped construct Fort Randall Dam; his job often required the family to resettle throughout South Dakota during Brokaw's early childhood. The Brokaws lived for short periods in Bristol, Igloo (the small residential community of the BHOD), 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 City 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.Brokaw matriculated at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, 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 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University, and he later donated his papers to the University of Iowa Libraries. He joked that the "honorary degree is especially coveted because it helps to make up for the uneven (to put it mildly) performance of my freshman year." He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in 1964.For several years, Brokaw mountain climbed with the "Do Boys," whose members included Yvon Chouinard and Douglas Tompkins.
Movies & TV shows
1 TV show
Challenger: The Final Flight
Engineers, officials and the crew members' families give their perspective on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and its aftermath.
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Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired
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Hamilton: Building America
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Reflections on the Vietnam War
Go behind-the-scenes of the epic series with Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and the filmmaking team. Hosted by Tom Brokaw, the program includes interviews with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and veteran stories ge...
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
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The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee
An intimate portrait of Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, tracing his remarkable ascent from a young Boston boy stricken with polio to the one of the most pioneering and consequential jour...
1 TV show
Jack Roosevelt Robinson rose from humble origins to cross baseball’s color line and become one of the most beloved men in America. A fierce integrationist, Robinson used his immense fame to speak out ...
The Making of Trump
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41 on 41
Interviewees discuss the life of former president George H. W. Bush
The Gettysburg Address
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All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State
All About Ann celebrates the achievements of larger-than-life Ann Richards, who became the first elected female governor of Texas. Her cool demeanor, acid wit, and passion for social inclusivity made ...
Iverson is the ultimate legacy of NBA legend Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia, to become an 11-time NBA All-Star and universally recognized icon of his...
D-Day: Normandy 1944
June 6, 1944: The largest Allied operation of World War II began in Normandy, France. Yet, few know in detail exactly why and how, from the end of 1943 through August 1944, this region became the most...
Home for the Holidays: Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells on Temple Square join with one of today’s brightest international singing stars, English tenor Alfie Boe, and internationally renowne...
iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World
Steve Jobs was a creative and technological visionary who quite simply changed society as we know it. As co-founder and CEO of Apple Computer, Jobs ushered in personal computing to the masses, which i...
Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird
Hey, Boo explores the life of reclusive author Nelle Harper Lee, shedding light on the context and history of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
1 Movie · 2 TV shows
Buccaneers & Bones
The series "Buccaneers and Bones" takes place in the beautiful saltwater flats of the Bahamas and Belize, where journalist Tom Brokaw leads an expedition in search of the island's legendary bonefish. ...
America: The Story of Us
America: The Story of Us is a six-part, 12-hour documentary-drama television miniseries that premiered on April 25, 2010, on History channel. Produced by Nutopia, the program portrays more than 400 ye...
America: The Story of Us
A six-night miniseries presenting the history of how the United States was invented, looking at the moments where Americans harnessed technology to advance human progress -- from the rigors of linking...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Forty years after Martin Luther King s assassination, HISTORY, with newsman Tom Brokaw, takes viewers through the extraordinary life and times of America's civil rights visionary. KING goes beyond the...
Run for Your Life: The Fred Lebow Story
Without one eccentric first-generation Jewish immigrant from Transylvania, the New York City Marathon simply wouldn't exist. Ehrlich's fun, loving, and inspirational tribute to the late Fred Lebow sho...
Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed
Film-makers and academics discuss the use of mythology in Star Wars and the impact of the films on society
Daniel B was one of the filmmakers in this documentary. Gold and Judith Helfand follow a group of self-proclaimed global warming "warriors" on a mission to get the world to care about rising temperatu...
1968 with Tom Brokaw
In 1968, the fury and violence of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago propelled us toward a tipping point in politics. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, America...
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Kirby Dick's provocative documentary investigates the secretive and inconsistent process by which the Motion Picture Association of America rates films, revealing the organization's underhanded effort...
1 TV show
The Colbert Report
The Colbert Report is an American satirical late night television program that airs Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central. It stars political humorist Stephen Colbert, a former correspondent for T...
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
This film examines how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, have been running a "race to the bottom" in television news, and provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangerous impact ...
1 TV show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is an American television talk show hosted by comedian/actress Ellen DeGeneres.
Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack
Documentary narrated by Tom Brokaw. National Geographic delves into the untold storylines and unresolved mysteries surrounding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Oceanographer Robert...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
The most exciting events of the day are currently being discussed on ABC daytime's morning chat fest. Hot topics in the news, the best experts in their field, celebrity interviews and general entertai...
Frank Capra's American Dream
A documentary looking at the life and career of film director Frank Capra. Hosted by Ron Howard.
2 TV shows
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
The biggest stories in news, politics and pop culture are discussed by The World's Fakest News Team.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show
The Rosie O'Donnell Show was an American daytime television talk show hosted and produced by actress and comedian Rosie O'Donnell. It aired for six seasons from 1996 to 2002. Topics often discussed on...
1 TV show
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Late Night with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired 2,725 episodes on NBC between 1993 and 2009. The show featured varied comedic material, celebrity i...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jay Leno that initially aired from May 25, 1992 to May 29, 2009, and resumed production on March 1, 2010. The fourth incarn...
Commercial Entertainment Product
The video debut of experimental musicians and culture jamming artists Emergency Broadcast Network.
1 TV show
LIVE with Kelly and Ryan
LIVE with Kelly and Ryan is an American syndicated morning talk show, hosted by Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. Executive-produced by Michael Gelman, the show has aired since 1983 locally on WABC-TV in ...
1 TV show
NBC broadcasts a daily American morning television show called Today. January 14, 1952 was when the program was first aired. It is the fifth-longest running American television series, and it was the ...
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