Tom Brokaw Impact of the 1960s

Tom Brokaw Impact of the 1960s

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“I think the most positive and historic changes were related to the civil rights movement,” Brokaw told Reuters. “This country finally began to confront the hypocrisy of deeply rooted segregation, de facto in the North and in practice in the South.”

Brokaw said that nearly four decades later, the debate continues over the lasting effects of that wrenching period.

“There were a lot of benefits from the ‘60s. People could be individuals, not just the man in the grey flannel suit or a member of the lonely crowd. But eventually political correctness took over, the country became deeply polarized and ideology took over in both parties,” he said.

Comparisons between the Vietnam War and the current war in Iraq are inevitable. Critics of both describe the “quagmire” similarities, yet anti-war demonstrations today pale in comparison compared to those of the 1960s.

Brokaw lays “95 percent” of that on the fact there is no draft and says the mood would change swiftly if there was.

“A lot of the moral outrage in this country ended when the draft ended,” he said.

Brokaw says the 1960s, as a mind-set, began with the murder of President John F. Kennedy and ended with the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.

“I think exhaustion had something to do with the end of the ‘60s,” he said with a laugh. “The war ended, that took away a lot of the flash point. Richard Nixon, when he went away, there was a note of triumph on the left.

“And the young people got older. They had to start taking responsibilities for their lives and careers, and they figured out that life was not going to be just one large be-in with a check sent from home every month.”

1968 With Tom Brokaw

The tumult of the 1960s continues to reverberate, which is why Tom Brokaw's can't-miss look at 1968 merits attention for viewers beyond those who lived it or are boning up for term papers.

Brian Lowry


The tumult of the 1960s continues to reverberate, which is why Tom Brokaw’s can’t-miss look at 1968 merits attention for viewers beyond those who lived it or are boning up for term papers. Conservative commentator and former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan dubs it “the worst year in this nation’s history,” marred by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War abroad and the counterculture revolution and rioting at home. Not to sound like a broken record, but the real shame here is that Brokaw’s former network possesses no appetite for this sort of serious documentary.

Granted, so much happened in 󈨈 — on so many levels — that even a two-hour special struggles to do the year justice, flitting from music to various consciousness movements (women, blacks) to presidential politics. Given that Brokaw already made a considerable splash with his “The Greatest Generation,” it’s also worth noting that the project clearly advances the former anchor’s latest book, “BOOM! Voices of the Sixties, Personal Reflections on the 󈨀s and Today.”

Brokaw shrewdly highlights the lingering cultural influence of the 󈨀s by viewing the era through the prism of current stars, from Jon Stewart weighing in on the debt he owes the Smothers Brothers to Bruce Springsteen ruminating on what the music of Bob Dylan and others meant as a foundation for his formidable works.

Opening with a stand-up in San Francisco’s legendary Haight-Ashbury district, Brokaw cuts to footage of himself in the same spot 40 years ago, noting that an understanding of the U.S. then will “help shed light on the country that we are today.”

The strongest moments, perhaps inevitably, arise during segments on the King and Kennedy assassinations, from the latter discussing his brother’s death as he calls for peace after King’s murder to the wails of aching despair when RFK was shot. Brokaw revisits the latter event with Rafer Johnson, a then-member of the Kennedy campaign who pounced on shooter Sirhan Sirhan. Johnson calls the assassination “truly one of the saddest moments in my life.”

Brokaw’s balanced approach includes conservatives who consider the 󈨀s legacy a blight that America is still struggling to eradicate, along with the intriguing thought that the corporate pioneers of recent decades were steeped in the counterculture’s irreverent underpinnings of questioning authority. A minor criticism is that the doc closes rather abruptly, as if Brokaw and company ran out of time.

Still, as with VH1’s recent “NY77: The Coolest Year in Hell,” �” demonstrates how zeroing in on a relatively finite window in history can prove extremely illuminating. It’s also the kind of substantial endeavor that should make History Channel proud as a peacock and make the Peacock where Brokaw once feathered his nest look for a place to hide.

Boom! : Voices of the Sixties

In The Greatest Generation, his landmark bestseller, Tom Brokaw eloquently evoked for America what it meant to come of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Now, in Boom!, one of America's premier journalists gives us an epic portrait of another defining era in America as he brings to life the tumultuous Sixties, a fault line in American history. The voices and stories of both famous people and ordinary citizens come together as Brokaw takes us on a memorable journey through a remarkable time, exploring how individual lives and the national mindset were affected by a controversial era and showing how the aftershocks of the Sixties continue to resound in our lives today. In the reflections of a generation, Brokaw also discovers lessons that might guide us in the years ahead.

Boom! One minute it was Ike and the man in the grey flannel suit, and the next minute it was time to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” While Americans were walking on the moon, Americans were dying in Vietnam. Nothing was beyond question, and there were far fewer answers than before.

Published as the fortieth anniversary of 1968 approaches, Boom! gives us what Brokaw sees as a virtual reunion of some members of “the class of '68,” offering wise and moving reflections and frank personal remembrances about people's lives during a time of high ideals and profound social, political, and individual change. What were the gains, what were the losses? Who were the winners, who were the losers? As they look back decades later, what do members of the Sixties generation think really mattered in that tumultuous time, and what will have meaning going forward?

Race, war, politics, feminism, popular culture, and music are all explored here, and we learn from a wide range of people about their lives. Tom Brokaw explores how members of this generation have gone on to bring activism and a Sixties mindset into individual entrepreneurship today. We hear stories of how this formative decade has led to a recalibrated perspective–on business, the environment, politics, family, our national existence.

Remarkable in its insights, profoundly moving, wonderfully written and reported, this revealing portrait of a generation and of an era, and of the impact of the 1960s on our lives today, lets us be present at this reunion ourselves, and join in these frank conversations about America then, now, and tomorrow.

People who bought this also bought

What I liked about this book was first, it attempted to give some context to current events, although having been written before Barack Obama was elected and certainly before the rise of Donald Trump, it only hinted at how either of those things could happen. Second, I enjoyed reading the thoughts of some of the people who made the sixties memorable. There were some interesting observations made about the times by those who made them what they were. Or weren't.

What was missing, I thought, was a more thorough analysis by one of the country's best journalists about what the sixties meant both then and now. Brokaw allowed his interviewees to comment but he didn't really give me much of his opinions. I would have liked that.

Boom offers a fascinating look-back into the turbulent times in the late '60's and early '70's that shaped who we are today. Brokaw writes in the intro: 񓟐 was the volcanic center of the Sixties, with landscape-altering eruptions every month: political shocks, setbacks in Vietnam, assassinations, urban riots, constant assaults on authority, trips on acid, and a trip around the moon."

It's still remarkable to recall how many truly world and culture changing events and movements emanated from the 1960's. Brokaw had a front row seat to all of the changes due to his career as a journalist with great access to newsmakers and a well-honed ability to discern the importance of the events.

Brokaw brings together in "Boom" the voices of the 60's - some famous, some not so famous and writes that "For the most part, I am like the old class president at this reunion. I call on others and then let them have their say. I am here as a journalist but also as a citizen, a grandfather now and a young man then." Part One of the book is titled "Something's Happening Here" and discussed Brokaw's early life and career and the deep divisions that tore through the country. Part Two is "Aftershocks - Consequences, Intended and Otherwise", and is organized around a series of interviews with people who lived through the times or were affected by the events of the 60's. Part Three is a brief section titled "Reflections - Seeing What Connects". The final section, titled Timeline, is a very effective of summarizing the events of the 60's, listing briefly by date events starting with King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, and concluding with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

"Boom" brings us recollections and reflections from many who lived through those times and effected change or were affected by it. The legacy of those years remains with us 40-50 years later, and there are many important history lessons to be gained.

Tom Brokaw

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Web Extras

Tom Brokaw defined the "Greatest Generation" and now he tells the story of their children -- the largest, most influential generation ever.

How well do you know the time when Bob Dylan went electric, LSD went mainstream and "Laugh-In" made sense of it all? Take our 1960s Boomer culture quiz and find out.

Here we take a look at some of the most significant events to shape the lives of boomers, and some of the individual stories behind those events. asked Steve Davis, collectable car expert and president of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, to give his take on the most sought-after classic cars of the generation.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to hit retirement age, millions will be searching for places to retire. So what's the best location to settle down?

Jeffrey Lyons, nationally known film/theater critic, identified the films which he considers to be the most influential, most popular and best among those that boomers grew up watching.

For the nearly 80 million American baby boomers, the choices and brand preferences of the generation has a major economic impact. So, what are the favorite brands of the boomer generation? Click to find out!

History as it Happened

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He had an older sister (Willie Christine) and a younger brother (Alfred Daniel).

Dr. King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. The wedding was held on the lawn of Coretta’s parents with the ceremony performed by Dr. King’s father.

The Kings had four children:

All four children followed in their parents footsteps and became civil rights activists.

Martin Luther King was one of the main leaders of the American civil rights movement. A Baptist minister by training, King became a civil rights activist early in his career leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott ( Rosa Parks ) and helping to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his “ I Have a Dream ” speech, raising public consciousness of the civil rights movement and establishing King as one of the greatest orators in American history. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. (more&hellip)

Tom Brokaw

Thomas John Brokaw ( / ˈ b r oʊ k ɔː / born February 6, 1940) [2] is a retired American network television journalist and author. He first served as the co-anchor of The Today Show from 1976 to 1981 with Jane Pauley, then as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News for 22 years (1982–2004). [3] In the previous decade he served as a weekend anchor for the program from 1973 to 1976. 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 formerly held a special correspondent post for NBC News. He occasionally writes and narrates documentaries for other outlets. [4]

Along with his competitors Peter Jennings at ABC News and Dan Rather at CBS News, Brokaw was one of the "Big Three" U.S. news anchors during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. All three hosted their networks' flagship nightly news programs for more than 20 years. They began and retired from their anchor chairs (or died, in Jennings' case) with Dan Rather notably being replaced by CBS due to false reports broadcast on 60 Minutes II within a year of each other. [5]

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. [6]

On January 22, 2021, NBC announced that Brokaw would retire after 55 years at the network, one of the longest standing anchors in the world at the same news network, along with Ecuadorian news anchor Alfonso Espinosa de los Monteros who has been in Ecuavisa since 1967. [7] [8]


Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota, the son of Eugenia "Jean" (née Conley 1917–2011), [9] who worked in sales and as a post-office clerk, and Anthony Orville "Red" Brokaw (1912–1982). [10] 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, [11] although the origin of the name Brokaw is contested. [12] 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. [13]

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. [14] 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. [11] [14]

As a high school student attending Yankton Senior High School, [15] 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. [16]

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". [17] 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 later transferred to the University of South Dakota, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. [15]

For several years, Brokaw mountain-climbed with the "Do Boys," whose members included Yvon Chouinard and Douglas Tompkins. [18] [19] He owned a 53-acre home in Pound Ridge, New York, for over two decades. [20] [21]

1966–1981: Early years Edit

Brokaw's television career began at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa followed by stints at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, and WSB-TV in Atlanta, [22] 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 co-host (with Jane Pauley) of NBC's Today Show in 1976 and remained in the job until 1981, when he was succeeded by Bryant Gumbel.

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. [23]

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 Edit

On April 5, 1982, Brokaw began co-anchoring NBC Nightly News from New York with Roger Mudd in Washington, succeeding John Chancellor. After a year, NBC News president Reuven Frank concluded that the dual-anchor program was not working and selected Brokaw to be sole anchor. [24] The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw commenced on September 5, 1983. Among other news items, he covered the Challenger disaster, [25] EDSA Revolution, the June Struggle, Loma Prieta earthquake, [26] fall of the Berlin Wall [27] and Hurricane Andrew. [28]

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. [29]

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. [30]

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). [31] 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. [31] Letterman then remarked, "Who would have thought you would ever hear the words 'intellectual property' and 'NBC' in the same sentence?" [31]

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." [32] [33] 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. [34]

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 [35] 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. [36]

2004–2021: After Nightly News Edit

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 [37] 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. [38]

In 2011 Brokaw began hosting The Boys in the Hall, a baseball documentary series for Fox Sports Net. [39]

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. [40]

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. [41] 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". [42]

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. [43]

On January 22, 2021, NBC announced Brokaw would retire after 55 years at the network, one of the few news anchors in the world who have spent the longest time on the same news network, along with Ecuadorian news anchor Alfonso Espinosa de los Monteros who has been in Ecuavisa since 1967. [7] [8]

Since 1962, Brokaw has been married to author Meredith Lynn Auld. [44] They have three daughters: Jennifer, Andrea, and Sarah. [45] Brokaw and his wife spend considerable time at their ranch near Livingston, Montana, which they bought in 1989. [46] [47]

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. [48] He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer, in August 2013 at the Mayo Clinic. [49] Brokaw and his physicians are "very encouraged with his progress". [50] He has continued to work for NBC throughout his treatments. On December 21, 2014, Brokaw announced that his cancer is in full remission. [51] [52] [53] [54]

In 2018, Brokaw was accused of unwanted sexual advances toward two women in the 1990s. [55] [56] Brokaw denied the allegations. [57] [58] 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". [59] [60]