30 Years After Berlin Wall Came Down, NBC’s Brokaw Recalls ‘Beautiful Face of Socialism’

Listen to the Article!

While marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on Friday’s NBC Today show, former Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw sat down for an fawning interview with former East German Olympic skater Katarina Witt, whom he labeled “the beautiful face of socialism.” Rather than celebrate the collapse of authoritarian Communism in Europe, Brokaw sympathized with Witt over how “hard” it must have been on her athletic career.

The report seemed to start out with the right tone, as Brokaw proclaimed: “Thirty years ago tomorrow, the rarest of revolutions, a peaceful one, rearranged the entire world order. The ugliest symbol of the Cold War, one that had defied protests and presidents....proved no match for a people determined to be free.”

 

 

However, things took a turn when he announced: “Today, in a unified Germany, people are still coming to terms with what was learned and what was lost that night.” Examining what was supposedly “lost,” he told viewers: “One who knows better than most, Katarina Witt, two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist and the biggest star East Germany ever produced. She was famously called the most beautiful face of socialism.”

Witt said of her time representing East Germany at the Olympics: “It was a kind of duty to do well because I knew my country paid for my sport. So I felt obligated to give back the right performance and to give back my gold medals...”

Brokaw then lamented: “...when the wall fell a year later, being that beautiful face of socialism became something of a liability.”

Wow, imagine that, being a Communist hero wasn’t popular anymore after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Commiserating with Witt, Brokaw observed: “You’d become famous, celebrated, not just in your own country, but around the world, as an East German, now it’s gone. Was that hard?” Witt admitted: “When the wall came down, that moment, it was kind of weird for me too.”

The joy of millions of others being free from Communist oppression was somehow brushed aside by NBC, as the network instead focused on one former Olympic star feeling “weird” about the whole thing.

Brokaw fretted: “Everything went so fast.” Witt agreed:

Everything went so fast, you know? Instead of really sitting back and really sorting out what are the good things, what maybe is worth to keep. And this is some of the resentments these days, where a lot of East Germans say we were sort of ignored as well for what we lived and the values we lived for.

Sadly, the segment from Brokaw has become commonplace when it comes to media coverage of the Cold War. For the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being torn down, the Media Research Center issued a comprehensive special report that detailed myriad examples of reporters actually bemoaning the end of Soviet Communism.

Here is a transcript of Brokaw’s November 8 report:

8:20 AM ET

(...)

TOM BROKAW: It was not supposed to happen, at least not in the way it did.

BROKAW [NOVEMBER 9, 1989]: Good evening live from the Berlin Wall on the most historic night in this wall’s history.

BROKAW: Thirty years ago tomorrow, the rarest of revolutions, a peaceful one, rearranged the entire world order. The ugliest symbol of the Cold War, one that had defied protests and presidents...

JOHN F. KENNEY: Ich bin ein Berliner!

RONALD REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

BROKAW: ...proved no match for a people determined to be free.

BROKAW [1989]: A historic moment tonight, the Berlin Wall can no longer contain the East German people.

BROKAW: Today, in a unified Germany, people are still coming to terms with what was learned and what was lost that night.

You were such a public person.

BROKAW: One who knows better than most Katarina Witt, two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist and the biggest star East Germany ever produced. She was famously called the most beautiful face of socialism.

KATARINA WITT: It was a kind of duty to do well because I knew my country paid for my sport. So I felt obligated to give back the right performance and to give back my gold medals, you know, to come back home.

BROKAW: But at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, she was skating for her very future. Only if she won a second gold medal would the East German government continue to allow her out of the country to skate. And she did just that.

But when the wall fell a year later, being that beautiful face of socialism became something of a liability.

You’d become famous, celebrated, not just in your own country, but around the world, as an East German, now it’s gone. Was that hard?

WITT: When the wall came down, that moment, it was kind of weird for me too. It was always right that we become one Germany, there’s no doubt about that.

BROKAW: Everything went so fast.

WITT: Everything went so fast, you know? Instead of really sitting back and really sorting out what are the good things, what maybe is worth to keep. And this is some of the resentments these days, where a lot of East Germans say we were sort of ignored as well for what we lived and the values we lived for.

(...)   

NB Daily Europe Communists NBC Today Video Tom Brokaw

Sponsored Links