NBC's Brokaw: California's 'Aging Lion' Jerry Brown 'Has Not Given Up On Big Dreams'

In what amounted to a love letter to California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, special correspondent Tom Brokaw gushed: "It's not sunshine every day for the California economy, but Jerry Brown has not given up on big dreams. His new big dream, a high-speed rail line from the north to the south..."

Anchor Brian Williams set the scene for Brokaw's fawning report: "California is mounting a comeback led by a man whose name has been synonymous with California government for decades." Brokaw sympathetically declared: "The one-time boy wonder of California politics is now the state's aging lion....Sticking up for his state."

Trying to put a positive spin on the state's continuing economic woes, Brokaw began by arguing: "When California unemployment dropped to just over 11% last week, that was good news....A year ago, the budget deficit hit $26 billion plus. It's now about a 1/3 of that [$9.2 billion]."

Brokaw framed Brown's call for tax hikes as essential: "But to make up the rest, Brown wants to raise the state's sales tax and he's asking Californians who pay the most taxes, the wealthy, to pay even more....Brown says it is the only way to protect the state's education system."


Here is a full transcript of the January 26 report:

7:09PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Another place where those [proposed military] cuts won't go over well is the state of California, which has a huge defense contracting industry and took a major hit when the state's massive housing bubble burst. But California is mounting a comeback led by a man whose name has been synonymous with California government for decades. And that is the back drop tonight for a conversation between Tom Brokaw and Governor Jerry Brown.

JERRY BROWN: Putting it as simply as I can, California is on the mend.

TOM BROKAW: There is a lot to mend. It's been a world of hurt during the downturn. A million jobs were lost when the housing bubble burst. When California unemployment dropped to just over 11% last week, that was good news. There was a time when California set the pace for America's economy. It remains a state of conspicuous wealth, but it is deep in debt. A year ago, the budget deficit hit $26 billion plus. It's now about a 1/3 of that. But to make up the rest, Brown wants to raise the state's sales tax and he's asking Californians who pay the most taxes, the wealthy, to pay even more.

BROWN: Neither is popular, but both must be done.

BROKAW: Brown says it is the only way to protect the state's education system.

BROWN: I'm not doing this unilaterally. I'm putting it to the people and urging them, make the decision for California.

BROKAW: Now that he's back in California for his third term, a lot has changed. Governor Brown is a lot older, it's a new century. It's not sunshine every day for the California economy, but Jerry Brown has not given up on big dreams. His new big dream, a high-speed rail line from the north to the south, through many rural areas, to redistribute the population. How would that help the state's biggest gridlock, the 24/7 traffic jams around greater Los Angeles? I don't have any problem getting from the north to south. I have problems getting across town in Los Angeles. Isn't that a higher priority?

BROWN: When we look at 20 million more people coming to this state, you can't build more airports. You can't build more runways. And you can't build more freeways.

BROKAW: The one-time boy wonder of California politics is now the state's aging lion. A fourth generation Californian.

BROWN: That old guy, that farmer, that's my great grandfather.

BROKAW: Sticking up for his state.

BROWN: California has problems, but rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated.

WILLIAMS: Tom Brokaw, tonight from California with Governor Jerry Brown.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC