Former NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw Plug His Book on FNC's 'Hannity and Colmes'

Former NBC "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw appeared on the November 14 edition of Fox News’ "Hannity and Colmes" to discuss his new book "Boom!" Through the course of the interview, Brokaw rehashed the 1960's and its impact today. Brokaw admitted he dressed his daughters up as hippies, marched in some rallies, declined an offer for Nixon’s press secretary, and puffed Hillary Clinton.

Co-host Alan Colmes asked Brokaw if he was "tempted...to be sucked in" to the culture of the 1960's. Brokaw admitted that to a large degree he was.

"Now, as I say in the book was, you know, it was entertaining to be in Southern California, and so on weekends, sure, I'd put on bell bottom trousers and take my little girls dressed in their little hippy outfits, go out to the Renaissance Fair, we had a friend who was a hippy potter, and we’d hang out with him, and then Monday mornings I'd put back on my button down collared shirt, and my suit and tie."

Brokaw also admitted to participating in some demonstrations, but also denied buying into the more extremist rhetoric.

COLMES: Are there two Tom Brokaws?

BROKAW: Well, no I think I was always the same. I mean, I never, when I go to demonstrations, they'd say "America sucks," and I said "wait a minute, look at me. Look at where I’ve come from." And I also knew what my working class friends back in South Dakota thought about all of that.

For the first time, Brokaw disclosed he was offered the position of President Nixon’s press secretary, but Brokaw turned it down because he "wouldn’t have done it for a Republican or a Democrat."

Co-host Sean Hannity read a very positive quote the former NBC anchor said about Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects. Brokaw continued with more positive words.

HANNITY: There is no doubt about it, you talk in the book a little bit, because you’re sort of comparing and contrasting where politics is today and the influence of the 60's, talking about Hillary Clinton, you had some nice words. You said "the most credible female candidate for the American presidency in the history of the republic...a product of the white bread suburbs of the 50's, the Goldwater movement in the early 60's." Do you think she can win this election?

BROKAW: I do. Look, my Republican friends think that she can win the election. I mean, if she gets the nomination, she’s got a 50-50 chance. And I think she surprised even her sharpest critics with how well she’s been doing up to this point. That’s my clinical analysis of it. You know, the fact is that she's leading in the polls, that they've not been able to knock her off that number one position, they've come after her with everything, someone has to stand back if you're a political analyst of any kind, and just say from a pure sports writing point of view, she's doing everything that's expected, she's blocking and tackling and running the open field.

HANNITY: Let’s stay with that sports writers perspective here. And you look at the last three weeks, you’re friends with Tim Russert, he asked a very simple question at the debate about driver's licenses for illegal immigrants --

BROKAW: Right, and she fumbled it.

HANNITY: She fumbled it, but then she has fumbled it just about every day since.

BROKAW: Well, I think, I think she fumbled it for another week. I'm not sure every day since then, I think that's probably a little strong, and the other thing I would say –

HANNITY: I would start debating you, but I'm on my best behavior.

BROKAW: I know, but Sean, here's the point, look, all of those candidates in both parties by the way, have had good days weeks and bad days, there's no question about that. My theory at this stage is even with it coming up as fast as it is, we still have a long way to go. I call it the UFO theory, the unforeseen will occur. You have to keep your eye on it. She could take a dive, Howard Dean did four years ago. There's no question about that. We could have some cataclysmic event in the world which would cause people to question her or Obama or Guiliani or Mitt Romney on the other side. There can be lots of things that will happen. I’m just saying up to this point –

The entire transcript is below.

ALAN COLMES: Most of us know Tom Brokaw as the former anchor and managing editor of NBC’s "Nightly News." As an anchor, he interviewed everybody from celebrities to Washington’s biggest politicians. Beyond his on-camera success, Brokaw has had four best-selling books, and his new one may very well be his fifth. With us now, the author of "Boom: Voices of the Sixties, Personal Reflections on the 60's and Today" Tom Brokaw, thank you very much for being here.

TOM BROKAW: Alan, thank you very much.

COLMES: Thank you very much for being here.

BROKAW: You and Sean were children in the 60's, but I'm here to tell you about those days.

COLMES: You want to pick, now, how can two people, children of the 60's be so different? That’s party of what your book talks about.

BROKAW: That's emblematic of the times. Most people when they think 60's, get an image of flower children, Bob Dylan in the background, Haight-Ashbury. But we were all there in the 60's. And in fact, what people need to remember, is that in 1968 between them, George Wallace and Richard Nixon got 60 percent of the vote.

COLMES: Right.

BROKAW: It really did open the door for what became the Reagan Revolution in the 1960's.

COLMES: Does that mean the 1960's, political movement, were not as powerful as we thought, if that 60 percent of the vote as you pointed out, you pointed out in the book, and leading to the Reagan Revolution -- does that mean this generation was not as politically potent as they think?

BROKAW: I think, I think where they feel the people that were on the front lines most of those days now say "we didn't have the staying power we needed. We had tactics, not strategy." They walked away in ‘68 when Hubert Humphrey got the Democratic nomination. Most of them now say "that was a mistake on our part." And they spent the rest of that decade and the decades to come in this kind of inter-nesting battle that was going on, and they kept giving the right of center people more opportunities and more opportunities because they were organized, the think tanks, and they had strong candidates, and they stayed on message all the time.

COLMES: You were Dakota born, you were a crew cut wearing, you know, young, child, but then were you tempted in the 60's to be sucked into the rock and roll, the music, the drug culture, the sexual revolution?

BROKAW: To be sucked into the 60's and music, those are two different things. If there's one kind of consensus, and judgement about the 60's, the music was great. You know, I mean Simon and Garfunkel, you know, James Taylor -- I went to a James Taylor concert last year at the Beacon theater, one of the most conservative people I know in New York arrive in coat and tie, and I said "you're here?" And he said "hate his politics, love his music." Now, as I say in the book was, you know, it was entertaining to be in Southern California, and so on weekends, sure, I'd put on bell bottom trousers and take my little girls dressed in their little hippy outfits, go out to the Renaissance Fair, we had a friend who was a hippy potter, and we’d hang out with him, and then Monday mornings I'd put back on my button down collared shirt, and my suit and tie.

COLMES: Are there two Tom Brokaws?

BROKAW: Well, no I think I was always the same. I mean, I never, when I go to demonstrations, they'd say "America sucks," and I said "wait a minute, look at me. Look at where I’ve come from." And I also knew what my working class friends back in South Dakota thought about all of that. It was a time of great turmoil, but you also have to remember, it did change the lives of African-Americans in this country. I mean, for the first time we really confronted morally, legally, and otherwise, the hypocrisy in that this was a country in which everyone was created equal, because racism was embedded in America. It gave women an opportunity to finally fulfill their greatest wishes and to go to medical school in record numbers, and law school, and get jobs in corporations to do things. It gave us the entrepreneurial class. Think of the people who came out of the 60's. Barnes and Noble, Leonard Riggio who started that, really began as a student book manager at NYU and thought there's a better way of doing this. There were lots of positives and negatives in the 60's, and the point of the book is, and it's a real arc of voices and personalities here is let's have a little virtual reunion and see what’s worth keeping, and what we should discover.

 

SEAN HANNITY: Talking about that arc and the way people came out of the 60's, you draw a distinction between President Clinton and Newt Gingrich, and what you say is "for baby boomers," what you said is "it would almost seem that Clinton and Gingrich were captains of two different political teams, one determined to extend social activism and the cultural changes of the 60's, the other with a game plan to check those changes and even roll them back. They got separated at birth." And you even go on to describe them further.

BROKAW: Well, I've said that I often thought Gingrich and Clinton were separated at birth. Here you have two prematurely gray guys, from the south, both from dysfunctional families, both political junkies from their waking moments on, both had troubles in their personal lives, one ended up as the speaker of the House, the other ended up as president of the United States in this epic political clash. They’re both in this book. Clinton probably summarizes it best when said that if you think the 60's were good, you're probably a Democrat, if you think they were bad, you're probably a Republican. Newt Gingrich says that he still thinks that the culture that came out of the 60's is destructive to this country, but he worries very much about the Republican party not learning the lessons of the Democrats, getting too deeply hubristic now, taking power for granted, have no new ideas, and they're worn out, and I actually in the book quote something that he said on this broadcast when President Bush was on the Abraham Lincoln and said "mission accomplished." Newt was here praising him fully.

HANNITY: We've got something, you remember, a hard break. We got to take a quick break. When we come back more with Tom Brokaw.

[...]

HANNITY: And we continue with the author of the brand-new book, it's called "Boom: Voices of the Sixties, Personal Reflections on the 60's and Today," Tom Brokaw is back with us. Before I get back to your answer, do you miss being on television? Do you miss the nightly-

BROKAW: Well, I don’t, I miss the big events, obviously, but I don't miss the routine, and it was my decision to leave when I did. I had my opportunity there, and I said at the time, and it had the added virtue of being true, that it was time for a new generation at NBC to step into that job. I still do work for them, they're generous to ask my opinion from time to time and even take it occasionally. So I’m very happy with what they’re doing. I like the freedom that I have now to go where I want to go, when I want to go. I got pretty bogged down in doing this book. This was a lot more work than I expected.

HANNITY: Books are aren’t they?

BROKAW: Yeah.

HANNITY: Back to the issue, we were discussing Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, and you said "separated at birth."

BROKAW: On this broadcast I went back and looked at a transcript. When this president said "mission accomplished," Newt Gingrich was on here and he was filled with praise for the president saying "the greatest defender of freedom just like Abraham Lincoln and other great presidents of our time." Now, as you know, he's very critical of the president because he thinks he's not kept pace with the changes that are required, and there is no one in this book who's more outspokenly critical of the Republican party than the former speaker, Newt Gingrich.

HANNITY: There is no doubt about it, you talk in the book a little bit, because you’re sort of comparing and contrasting where politics is today and the influence of the 60's, talking about Hillary Clinton, you had some nice words. You said "the most credible female candidate for the American presidency in the history of the republic...a product of the white bread suburbs of the 50's, the Goldwater movement in the early 60's." Do you think she can win this election?

BROKAW: I do. Look, my Republican friends think that she can win the election. I mean, if she gets the nomination, she’s got a 50-50 chance. And I think she surprised even her sharpest critics with how well she’s been doing up to this point. That’s my clinical analysis of it. You know, the fact is that she's leading in the polls, that they've not been able to knock her off that number one position, they've come after her with everything, someone has to stand back if you're a political analyst of any kind, and just say from a pure sports writing point of view, she's doing everything that's expected, she's blocking and tackling and running the open field.

HANNITY: Let’s stay with that sports writers perspective here. And you look at the last three weeks, you’re friends with Tim Russert, he asked a very simple question at the debate about driver's licenses for illegal immigrants --

BROKAW: Right, and she fumbled it.

HANNITY: She fumbled it, but then she has fumbled it just about every day since.

BROKAW: Well, I think, I think she fumbled it for another week. I'm not sure every day since then, I think that's probably a little strong, and the other thing I would say –

HANNITY: I would start debating you, but I'm on my best behavior.

BROKAW: I know, but Sean, here's the point, look, all of those candidates in both parties by the way, have had good days weeks and bad days, there's no question about that. My theory at this stage is even with it coming up as fast as it is, we still have a long way to go. I call it the UFO theory, the unforeseen will occur. You have to keep your eye on it. She could take a dive, Howard Dean did four years ago. There's no question about that. We could have some cataclysmic event in the world which would cause people to question her or Obama or Guiliani or Mitt Romney on the other side. There can be lots of things that will happen. I’m just saying up to this point –

HANNITY: I agree with you, and I think everybody should be aware of that, and you've been around politics long enough to know that one event, one October surprise can change an election on a dime. My only criticism of her, I think she's created a vulnerability that will last throughout the campaign in as much as she not only stumbled, she couldn't answer a question, it was followed up by Bill coming to her defense, I think that showed weakness, she blamed or played the gender card, in one case, the swift boating of Hillary, and now she's given, by my counts, six separate answers on the question. She keeps changing, and I think that impression will remain.

BROKAW: I think you're not as interested in my opinion as you are getting your opinion out there.

[laughter]

COLMES: You’ve seen our show.

BROKAW: Why am I not surprised somehow? I was watching you with Pat Robertson earlier.

COLMES: You know what I want to here is? I want to hear you critique his work. This is what I want to hear.

HANNITY: I lose, I'm out of here. I’m walking out.

COLMES: I was happy to hear a moment ago, that you have Republican friends that’s-

BROKAW: I have lots of Republican friends, and I have had forever. I'm not going to get into the name game here with you, but, you know, it's been part of the richness of my life is to know people across the political spectrum, and they're among my closest friends, and you would be surprised by some of the people.

COLMES: Was Brian Williams smart to do "Saturday Night Live"?

BROKAW: Oh, I think it turned out very well for him. We talked about it before he did it. And he said "what do you think?" At first I had reservations, and my wife said "you know, the rules have changed since you were there, people are able to distinguish more clearly." Ten or 15 years ago, Lorn didn't come and ask me, but he said "would you?" And I said "no it's hard enough for people to kind of put you in one box without trying to be confused about the other one." I thought he did it very well, he went back to his day job on Monday night, and, you know, folks these days move between all these small and large screens with much more ease than they did when I was coming up.

COLMES: What does it say about the way the business has changed and the perception of who an anchor is has changed?

BROKAW: Walter Cronkite was on "Mary Tyler Moore."

COLMES: That’s not "Saturday Night Live."

HANNITY: That’s a good point.

COLMES: But you never wanted to go that route. You never wanted to do it.

BROKAW: No I didn’t. I was asked, I was asked to play a part in "The Candidate," the movie.

COLMES: Is that right?

BROKAW: And by the way, speaking of Republicans friends, I write and disclose for the first time I was once asked to be Richard Nixon's press secretary.

COLMES: And you turned that down obviously.

BROKAW: But I wouldn't have done that for anyone. I wouldn’t have done it for a Democrat or a Republican. That's not what I do. That's kind of an intriguing tale. You have to buy the book, folks.

COLMES: There’s a little tease right there. You've been asked to run for office, have you not?

BROKAW: I have, not asked, but it's shown up -- people say to me "are you going to run?" I say "I'm running for cover." And they say "why, wouldn’t you run?" And I say "I don't want my family to move to Canada." That’s why I wouldn’t want to run.

HANNITY: I got one last question. What do you think of the current configuration of network anchors? Why is Katie Couric struggling so much in your view?

BROKAW: You know, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. I think that she got to CBS at a time when the news division was not as strong as the other two were. I think that she brought a different style to it just as the country was beginning to pay more attention to serious issues again, and I think the other thing that happens these days in this business and everything that we do is that people make snap judgments and move on quickly, and you don't get a chance to recover. Look, she's a very skilled broadcaster. We talked before she went, and I said if "I were you, I would do it Katie, but it’s a dive off the high board." I’ve worked both ends of the day, and she said "do you think I'm going to fail? Is that what you’re saying." and I said "no, it's just a different order of magnitude." And you have to be aware of that.

COLMES: Thank you very much. Best look with the book.

BROKAW: Thank you very much.

HANNITY: Thank you. Nice to see you.

BROKAW: Sean, how do you feel about Hillary again?