Brokaw's Bad Memory or Historical Revisionism? Claims GOP Was Thrown Out of House After '95 Shutdown

NBC's Tom Brokaw was invited on Thursday's Today show to discuss a wide range of topics ranging from the Supreme Court ruling on the Westboro church to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling results and in discussing the poll Brokaw warned Republicans risked political peril if there was another government shutdown. The former Nightly News anchor actually claimed that after the 1995 shutdown the GOP was "turned out" of the House "not too long after that." However that historic budget fight wasn't as politically lethal as Brokaw made it out to viewers, as the Republicans maintained control of the House until 2006.

(video, audio and transcript after the jump)

 (MP3 audio)

The following is the relevant exchange between Vieira and Brokaw about the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll as it was aired on the March 3 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know there is another debate brewing in D.C., this one over the federal budget yesterday. The, the President signed a resolution funding the government for two more weeks, but essentially America is living paycheck-to-paycheck. And now Vice President Biden has been assigned the task of trying to bring the parties together to deal with this crisis. What can we expect him to do?

TOM BROKAW: Well it's a delicate game. You know, the Republicans remember what happened when they were swept in 1994, then shut down the government and were turned out not too long after that.

At this point Vieira should've interrupted the venerable Brokaw to remind him that not only did the Republicans maintain control of the House until 2006, but that between 1994 and 1996 the GOP lost a meager four seats. So much for the myth that the shutdown was some sort of catastrophic political failure.

After that bit of hazy recollection Brokaw went on to insist Boehner didn't want a repeat of the 1995 shutdown, as he and Vieira, using results from the poll, depicted a budget fight full of minefields for the GOP and none for the Democrats.


BROKAW: John Boehner doesn't want that to happen, but he has to deal with the Tea Party people on his right. He has to deal with his traditionalists in the middle. And he has to deal with Vice President Biden. At the end of the day, this is a political game as much as it is a financial game. And the Vice President would like to be seen as the guy who kept the government open or if he can't, to be able to blame the Republicans. That's what we'll see play out here in the next couple of weeks.

VIEIRA: Yeah in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll we asked Americans where they think the government should be focusing its attention. Top priority, according to those polled, job creation and economic growth. Not budget cutting. So does that suggest that the government is out of touch with the people?

BROKAW: Well, the core group, however -- the Republicans who are in the House and their constituents who got them there, especially in the Tea Party group -- they, in this poll, said that the deficit is the most important thing. When you move into the largest block of American voters that there are, the independents, they put jobs in front. They want to get back to jobs. And the Democrats, who were polled as well, would put jobs on top. So that's another tricky piece for the Republicans who are in the House. And we're all getting lined up for 2012, you know. And so this will play out into the coming months on the campaign trail as well.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.