Brokaw: ‘Intractable GOP Opposition’ to Blame for ‘Angry’ America

On Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie fretted over “anger” being “a major theme of this presidential campaign.” Fellow co-host Matt Lauer was perplexed: “You know, even in states where things are going pretty well, voters are still angry. But, why?”

In the report that followed, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw attempted to answer that question by blaming Republicans: “President Obama promised change, but he initiated a blue-state agenda – health care overhaul, same-sex marriage – and met intractable GOP opposition.”

The slanted segment featured a clip of Congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” during one of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses, followed by Brokaw scolding: “Congressional Republicans were not interested in negotiation or compromise. They had their own problems with the Tea Party.”

Using liberal class warfare talking points, he bemoaned: “The rich, 1% of the country, got richer. While the working and middle class were stuck in neutral or reverse. Their college kids ran up big debts.”

Brokaw began the story by citing 9/11 as the beginning of America’s troubles, however, he quickly singled-out Bush administration foreign policy as the problem: “But the war against Iraq went disastrously wrong. No weapons of mass destruction. The Saddam Hussein army became part of ISIS, while American forces paid a heavy price.”

The fact that ISIS rose to power on Obama’s watch was a detail that didn’t make the cut.

Tell the Truth 2016

Near the end of the report, Brokaw briefly noted how “terrorism came home” with the San Bernardino shooting, but then touted Black Lives Matter activism: “While in small towns and big cities, police, race, and racists became a deadly brew. America seemed to be broken.”

Lauer praised Brokaw’s rambling: “I love the perspective there, Tom. We talk about that anger so much and have over the past six months. But to go back and look at the roots of it is eye-opening.”

Here is a full transcript of the March 1 segment:

8:16 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And on this Super Tuesday, we turn to a major theme of this presidential campaign – anger.

MATT LAUER: You know, even in states where things are going pretty well, voters are still angry. But, why? Tom Brokaw’s been looking into that for us. Tom, good to see you, welcome back.

TOM BROKAW: Good to see you, gang. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this all began on one of the worst days in American history.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Disillusioned and Disaffected Voters; Tom Brokaw on How American Voters Got Angry]

This all started on 9/11, when America became a different country. A surprise attack that shattered our sense of security.

BROKAW [NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, 2001]: America has been attacked, and it has been changed.

But the war against Iraq went disastrously wrong. No weapons of mass destruction. The Saddam Hussein army became part of ISIS, while American forces paid a heavy price.

At home, banks and Wall Street drove America into a great recession, with a housing scam. Now an Oscar winning film, The Big Short.

STEVE CARRELL [THE BIG SHORT]: Fraud has never, ever worked. Eventually, things go south. When the hell did we forget all that?

BROKAW: Wall Street was bailed out, but the working and middle classes lost homes, jobs, and confidence in government.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I’ve been doing everything on my end the way I'm supposed to, and just because they haven’t been doing what they're supposed to do, that like, it just leaves us almost really homeless.

BARACK OBAMA: So help me, God.

BROKAW: President Obama promised change, but he initiated a blue-state agenda – health care overhaul, same-sex marriage – and met intractable GOP opposition.

REP. JOE WILSON [R-NC]: You lie!

BROKAW: Congressional Republicans were not interested in negotiation or compromise. They had their own problems with the Tea Party.

The rich, 1% of the country, got richer. While the working and middle class were stuck in neutral or reverse. Their college kids ran up big debts.

The war in the Middle East escalated. Young American warriors, less than 1% of our population, went back again and again.

SAN BERNARDINO POLICE SCANNER: We have at least 20 victims.

BROKAW: And then terrorism came home, this time in California. While in small towns and big cities, police, race, and racists became a deadly brew. America seemed to be broken.

The condition of the Capitol dome is a metaphor for our time, it needs fixing. But that work is underway. What goes on beneath the dome and in the rest of Washington, that will take longer, and it won't be solved with rhetoric alone.

BROKAW: And of course, one of the sad things about this campaign on both sides is that there is a deliberate attempt to stir that anger even more, and so, it begins to feed on itself.

LAUER: I love the perspective there, Tom. We talk about that anger so much and have over the past six months. But to go back and look at the roots of it is eye-opening.

BROKAW: I really do – I had to think about this, about 9/11 and what it did. And I think it unmoored the country in a way that we didn’t fully appreciate at the time. It was that kind of hyper-patriotism, we were all determined to be together, and then we, instead of going together, we went in very separate directions. And how we get out of that, it's not going to happen in this campaign.

GUTHRIE: And all of that happening in a relatively short period of time, as well.

BROKAW: It did. And as Matt said at the beginning, there are so many good stories in the country. So many states are doing well. New Hampshire and Iowa, under 3% unemployment, went big time for Donald Trump. So it's inexplicable in a lot of ways.

LAUER: Well done, Tom. Thank you very much.

BROKAW: Thank you.

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