During NBC's Saturday coverage of the Winter Olympics, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw spun the United States' worldwide campaign against communism during the Cold War: "In Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and space, the U.S. spared little to defeat communism – at times, it seemed like a national obsession." [video below the jump]
Brokaw's slanted take on recent history came mere days after NBC glorified the Soviet Union as "one of modern history's pivotal experiments" as they broadcast the opening ceremonies from Sochi, Russia.
The veteran journalist filed an eighteen-minute-long retrospective on the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union for his network's Olympics programming. Brokaw zeroed in on the superpowers' joint space mission in 1975, Apollo-Soyuz, and conducted interviews of two of the surviving participants: Thomas Stafford, who took part in four missions during Projects Gemini and Apollo; and Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space.
The NBC correspondent used his "national obsession" line as he spotlighted the period between Apollo 11's landing on the Moon in 1969 and the Apollo-Soyuz mission six years later. He included clips from his interviews of Stafford and Leonov, who gave their takes on the Cold War-era tensions:
TOM BROKAW: While the balance of power had shifted in space, here on Earth, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were still positioning for an upper hand.
TOM STAFFORD, ASTRONAUT: Each country had four to six thousand strategic nuclear weapons aimed at each other, plus thousands of tactical nuclear weapons – all types of conventional force.
ALEXEI LEONOV, COSMONAUT (speaking in Russian): There were no Soviet military bases around the United States. There were none. Around the Soviet Union in Norway, Germany, and Turkey, there were American bases. Therefore, it was not us encircling America, it was America encircling us.
BROKAW: In Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and space, the U.S. spared little to defeat communism – at times, it seemed like a national obsession.
The anchor never explained that in each of those instances, the United States was responding to an earlier move by the Soviet Union or its allies. During the Korean War, the Soviet-backed North Korean "People's Army" invaded South Korea. Several years later, the U.S. space program was sent into overdrive after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. The following decade, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962; and South Vietnam was already fighting the communist North Vietnamese forces as the U.S. gradually become more and more involved.
Brokaw's report wasn't the last time that NBC has whitewashed the communist legacy in Russia. Two days later, on Monday's Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk played up how "Stalin promised the [Moscow] metro would be a palace for the people, and so it is – open architecture, mosaics, even chandeliers."