Who Is Tom Brokaw?
Starting as a radio reporter in college, Tom Brokaw worked his way up to become NBC's Washington correspondent, covering Watergate in 1973. Named anchor of NBC Nightly News in 1982, Brokaw conducted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's first American interview in 1987, and reported on such historic events as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He remained at the anchor desk until his retirement in 2004. Brokaw's 1998 book, The Greatest Generation, was a best-seller.
Early Life and Career
Television journalist Thomas John Brokaw was born on February 6, 1940, in Webster, South Dakota. The eldest son of a construction worker and a post office clerk, Brokaw graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in political science in 1962. He started as a radio reporter in college, and after graduating he found work as the editor of a morning news program in Omaha, Nebraska. He also served as a news anchor and editor in Atlanta, Georgia, before becoming a KNBC late-night presenter in Los Angeles (1965-73).
'NBC Nightly News' and Retirement
While serving as NBC's Washington correspondent (1973-76), Tom Brokaw covered several top stories, including the Watergate scandal. He went on to host Today (1976-82), leaving that role in 1982 to become co-anchor of NBC Nightly News alongside Roger Mudd. Brokaw took over as sole anchor of the program in 1983, remaining in that post until 2004.
During his tenure, he conducted a historic 1987 interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, reported live from the opening of the Berlin Wall two years later and "awarded" the 2000 election to Al Gore before retracting the following morning. Brokaw postponed his retirement in order to cover the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. He retired from NBC Nightly News in 2004 and was replaced by Brian Williams.
In addition to his historic reign in the anchor seat, Tom Brokaw is known for producing many specials for NBC, including 2001's "The Greatest Generation Speaks," based on his best-selling 1998 book, The Greatest Generation.
Brokaw has kept busy during his retirement, hosting History Channel documentaries, delivering speeches and eulogies, and serving on the board of directors for several organizations, among other roles.
Brokaw returned to the NBC anchor desk on June 13, 2008, to announce the tragic death of friend and colleague Tim Russert. Brokaw served as interim host for Russert's successful Sunday morning series, Meet the Press, until David Gregory was named the permanent replacement late in the year. Brokaw also hosted the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain on October 7, 2008, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Cancer Diagnosis and Health
In February 2014, a 74-year-old Brokaw revealed that he'd been diagnosed the previous summer with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer that affects the blood cells in bone marrow.
"With the exceptional support of my family, medical team and friends, I am very optimistic about the future and look forward to continuing my life, my work and adventures still to come. I remain the luckiest guy I know," the longtime TV journalist said in a statement, adding, "I am very grateful for the interest in my condition, but I also hope everyone understands I wish to keep this a private matter."
That December, Brokaw announced that the cancer had gone into remission, and that he would "shortly go on a drug maintenance regimen to keep it there.”
Wife and Family
Brokaw and wife Meredith Lynn Auld have been married since 1962. The couple has three daughters, Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah.
Brokaw's daughter, Jennifer, is an E.R. physician based in San Francisco, whom he has publicly lauded as helping him through his cancer diagnosis.
"She was invaluable to me because she knew what questions to ask, what research to look for, how to get on the phone with me," Brokaw said of his daughter during an interview with the Today Show. "If you have cancer, in a way your whole family gets cancer because they're involved in it. If you don't have cancer, you can be sympathetic, but you really can't understand it until you get to it yourself."
Sexual Harassment Allegations
In April 2018, multiple outlets reported that two women had accused Brokaw of inappropriate workplace behavior in the 1990s.
One, a former NBC correspondent named Linda Vester, cited two occasions in which the powerful newsman groped her or tried to kiss her. In her 20s at the time, she said she did not file a complaint because she worried it would derail her career.
In a statement, Brokaw said, "I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC. The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other." He also denied the claims of the other woman, a young production assistant during the time of their alleged encounter.
Shortly afterward, Brokaw received a strong show of support via a letter signed by more than 60 current and former female professional colleagues, including Rachel Maddow and Maria Shriver, in which they characterized the longtime journalist as "a valued source of counsel" and "a man of tremendous decency and integrity."
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