Brokaw Frets to McCain: Trump ‘Turned the Country Against’ Media

In an interview with Arizona Senator John McCain for Thursday’s NBC Today, Senior Correspondent Tom Brokaw invited the Republican lawmaker to attack President Trump and painted the liberal media as the victim: “In the course of your political career, especially as a presidential candidate – as I learned first hand – you had some mixed relations with the press. The President has no use for the press, he has turned the country against us, in many ways.”

McCain was quick to agree with Brokaw’s whining: “Yeah, I think the role of the press is more important than ever before. I hate the press, okay? But the fact is, without a free press in this country, a pillar of democracy is destroyed.”

 

 

At the top of the segment, Brokaw touted a speech McCain delivered to the Naval Academy on Monday as being “a warning not just for the cadets, but for the country as a whole.” A soundbite followed of the Senator taking a not-so-veiled swipe at Trump: “We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on Earth by tearing down walls, not building them.”

After recalling the 50th anniversary of McCain being captured by the Vietcong during the Vietnam war, Brokaw worried: “Do you think we’re more divided now than we were then?” McCain replied: “No, I think we were more divided then because we were talking about body bags.”

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Brokaw followed up: “Whenever I go across America, inevitably, someone will say to me, ‘Are we gonna be okay?’” McCain commiserated with him: “I hear that, as well. And we are going through a period of turmoil politically, obviously.” The outspoken Trump critic then made this historical comparison: “We are seeing, in many ways, the 1930s. The isolationism, the America Firsters. Now maybe some of the causes are different, but the fact is, we are seeing the United States become much more insular and inward.”

Still eager to get McCain to go after the President directly, Brokaw pressed: “If the President called you up and said, ‘John, what should I be doing I’m not doing right now?,’ what would you say to him?” Without hesitation, the Senator declared: “Stop tweeting. I think I’d say, ‘Stop tweeting.’ I would also say, ‘Look, there’s no reason to attack Republicans, we’ve got enough people to attack them.’”

Following the taped exchange, Brokaw told co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie that his friendship with McCain had been strained when the Republican ran for president in 2008: “And by the way, the two of us used to have a very close, but appropriate, relationship. And then, as it did with a lot of members of the press, it went to hell when he was running against Obama.”

The former Nightly News anchor added: “We reconciled last summer. His initiative, he said, ‘You know, I was wrong. We’ve got to get back together again.’ And so, we’ll always be reporter and politician, but at the same time, I have an enormous personal affection for him.”

That revelation proves that no matter how much of a media darling any Republican becomes, the press will set to destroy him the moment he runs for election against a Democrat.

Despite Brokaw’s assertion that Trump was responsible for having “turned the country against” the news media, a recent Gallup poll found that Americans’ overall confidence in the press actually ticked up slightly, due to Democrats rushing to defend their journalist allies against Trump’s criticism.

In addition, liberal media figures like Brokaw have long complained about anyone questioning their biased coverage. Back in 2004, at a Harvard University press forum, Brokaw actually ranted against the Media Research Center for holding him and his colleagues accountable:

There are organized interest groups out there. There’s a guy by the name of Brent Bozell, who makes a living at, you know, taking us on every night. He’s well-organized, he’s got a constituency, he’s got a newsletter. He can hit a button and we’ll hear from him.

Brokaw’s slanted conversation with McCain was brought to viewers by Ross, Kaiser Permanente, and LaZboy.

Here is a full transcript of the November 2 report:

8:14 AM ET

MATT LAUER: A lot going on this week. There was a major speech that we may have missed by Senator John McCain, it happened Monday night. NBC News Senior Correspondent Tom Brokaw is here with more on that, and his conversation with Senator McCain. Tom, good to see you. Good morning.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning.

TOM BROKAW: Well, these days, as you know, Senator McCain, who is battling a very serious brain cancer, has become America’s statesman in many ways. And he went back to the Naval Academy where he graduated fifth from the bottom and talked about all that he has learned. And it was really a warning not just for the cadets, but for the country as a whole. So here’s McCain at the Naval Academy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN [R-AZ]: We have to defeat those who would worsen our divisions. We have to remind our sons and daughters that we became the most powerful nation on Earth by tearing down walls, not building them.

[APPLAUSE]

BROKAW: That was Senator John McCain going back to his alma mater, talking about how we have to get engaged in the world. It is a time of reflection for the Senator on many levels. When we met for an interview, it was both the 50th anniversary of his capture by the North Vietnamese and a time of reflection. Senator, when you woke up this morning, did you say to yourself, “Where was I 50 years ago?”

MCCAIN: You know, I did. And I thought, “Wow, maybe I should have zigged when I should have zagged.” Yeah, I thought about it a lot. But I also thought about the heros that I have known and the benefit of having served in the company of heros. I am the luckiest guy you will ever talk to, I promise you.

BROKAW: Does that memory ever fade for you? Is it there constantly, or can you park it somewhere?

MCCAIN: You know, it doesn’t fade, but I have parked it. In life, we have to go on, you know, and put it behind us and be grateful.

BROKAW: Do you think we’re more divided now than we were then?

MCCAIN: No, I think we were more divided then because we were talking about body bags. It was a period of real upheaval in our history. And all of it with the backdrop of these brave, young people who were over there serving and sacrificing.

BROKAW: Whenever I go across America, inevitably, someone will say to me, “Are we gonna be okay?”  

MCCAIN: I hear that, as well. And we are going through a period of turmoil politically, obviously. We are seeing, in many ways, the 1930s. The isolationism, the America Firsters. Now maybe some of the causes are different, but the fact is, we are seeing the United States become much more insular and inward.

BROKAW: If the President called you up and said, “John, what should I be doing I’m not doing right now?,” what would you say to him?

MCCAIN: Stop tweeting. I think I’d say, “Stop tweeting.” I would also say, “Look, there’s no reason to attack Republicans, we’ve got enough people to attack them.”

BROKAW: In the course of your political career, especially as a presidential candidate – as I learned first hand – you had some mixed relations with the press. The President has no use for the press, he has turned the country against us, in many ways.

MCCAIN: Yeah, I think the role of the press is more important than ever before. I hate the press, okay? But the fact is, without a free press in this country, a pillar of democracy is destroyed.

BROKAW: In the Senate, and your private life as well, you’ve had friends on both sides of the aisle. That doesn’t happen anymore. Is that a key to getting the country back on an even keel?

MCCAIN: You know, the guy that I fought with and worked with almost more than anybody in the United States Senate was one Edward M. Kennedy. You know, he and I would yell at each other, we would fight. And we’d walk off and he’d put his arm around me and say, “Hey, we did pretty good, didn’t we?” That’s the kind of relationship that you have to have. And so, we did a lot of legislation together.

BROKAW: Have you loved your life, John?

MCCAIN: Oh, yeah. I’ve loved my life, I can’t tell you. For 60 years now I’ve had the great honor of being involved in the arena, and I’ve loved every minute of it. The disappointments, ups, downs, wins, losses. But no one has had the wonderful life that I’ve had. No one.

BROKAW: And there have been so many John McCain lives. He’s now a senior statesman. And it’s worth going on Google to read the entire speech to the Naval Academy because it is forewarning for these cadets, and for the rest of the country, about where we are and what we ought to be thinking about, Matt.

LAUER: How’s he seem like he’s doing, to you?

BROKAW: Look, it’s a very tough cancer. It is a very difficult cancer. He’s getting great care at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, but at the same time, he’s a realist and he knows what he’s up to. And I think that’s why we’re seeing so much candor from him and why he wants to, at this stage in his life, to raise his hand and say, “I’m not going to be politically correct anymore.”

And by the way, the two of us used to have a very close, but appropriate, relationship. And then, as it did with a lot of members of the press, it went to hell when he was running against Obama. We reconciled last summer. His initiative, he said, “You know, I was wrong. We’ve got to get back together again.” And so, we’ll always be reporter and politician, but at the same time, I have an enormous personal affection for him.

GUTHRIE: Another thing worth watching is that video after he was captured. A lot of people put it out there online in this – after this anniversary, to watch that.

BROKAW: If I can say one thing, I went to Hanoi and I stood at the edge of the lake where he went in to, and I got very emotional. Thinking about he gets shot down, he drops into the lake, they all go in there and they try to kill him right there, and he pulls out there and he’s got every bone broken in his body. And then he goes into solitary confinement.

LAUER: Tom, an amazing story. Thank you very much, appreciate it.

GUTHRIE: Thank you.

BROKAW: My pleasure.


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CyberAlerts Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans NBC Today Video Tom Brokaw John McCain Donald Trump