Tom Brokaw: Media, Military Both Like Nailing "Bad Guys" And Pointing Out "Evil"

May 2nd, 2006 10:22 AM

Via Romenesko, we learn that long-time "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw was making some wild claims Monday night at a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper reported he "begged the audience to put partisanship aside while the nation is at war," which the media certainly haven't. He "defended his profession against those who suggest journalists have not been balanced in covering the war and have ignored certain stories." He claimed there's mutual respect between journalists and soldiers, and while they may not always see the world "through the same prism," they have other similarities:

"We (both) live unconventional lives, we like to live off the land," he said. "Most of all, we like to get the bad guys and point out where evil is," Brokaw said.

Whoops. How similar are their ideas of where the greater evil resides? Remember that under Brokaw in 2004, we found NBC was absolutely frenzied about the prisoner humiliation at Abu Ghraib under American forces -- much more agitated than they were over mass murder of Iraqis under Saddam Hussein:

To illustrate a fraction of the bias problem, we counted the number of prisoner-abuse stories on NBC’s evening and morning news programs (NBC Nightly News and Today) from April 29, when the story emerged, through May 11. There were 58 morning and evening stories. Using the Nexis news-data retrieval system, we counted the number of stories on mass graves found in Iraq from the reign of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and 2004. The number of evening and morning news stories on those grim discoveries? Five.

Remember this was early on in the Abu Ghraib story, which kept bubbling over after our report. On the campaign front, Brokaw grew wilder with the metaphors in his Lancaster talk when he began comparing political consultants to "hired gunmen" who "kill and kill again."

"Our political landscape has been converted into a war-game battle," Brokaw said. "We talk about it in terms of red state versus blue state. The operating strategy of both parties is to alienate and conquer, suppress any suggestion of compromise, to kill and kill again." During his speech Monday, Brokaw praised Pennsylvania as one of the few states that has maintained a sense of political balance. He warned, however, that the looming U.S. Senate race most likely pitting incumbent Republican Rick Santorum against Democrat Bob Casey will bring in the "hired gunmen who run campaigns that create fears and exploit them...Fair warning: They're coming your way in Pennsylvania, especially in the Casey-Santorum race. You'll see some vicious exchanges," Brokaw said.

All this extreme huffing and puffing is interesting, coming from man who could sound like a negative ad on his newscast:

-- “When NBC Nightly News continues: in Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?” (March 22, 1995)

-- "And when the public phase of those hearings ended today with the testimony of Secretary Weinberger, we were left with an astonishing record of deceit, ignorance, naivete, good or bad intentions, failed policies, and discredited public servants, and this story is not yet complete.” (On Iran-Contra hearings, August 3, 1987)

Personally, I tend to remember this thinly disguised NBC story/ negative ad against Republicans on the environment.