Recently, in a fit of nostalgic bonhomie, I realized that I had allowed myself to forget just how far off the beaten path Tom Brokaw really was.
Generally, I've tended to look at him as the least objectionable of the Big Three anchors, and that view strengthened with his impending retirement. But in watching an MSNBC retrospective of his just-ended career last night, I recognized anew that, though he may originally be from a "red state" (a fact he likes to tout in order to bolster his supposed objectivity), his sensibilities are purely Manhattan.
Two things he said, in particular, jumped out at me.
1). In discussing the emerging realization of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's, Brokaw said "My friend Larry Kramer called me...." I don't even know what he said after that. My mind froze at the sentence "My friend Larry Kramer..." I'll tell you this much: Larry Kramer (the founder of ACT UP, whom the ultra-liberal Salon magazine refers to as a "gay rights hell-raiser") is not hanging out with anyone he suspects of being more conservative than, say, Barbra Streisand. Among Kramer's notable recent accomplishments is his claim to possess evidence that Abraham Lincoln was a flaming homosexual. And he and Tom Brokaw are buddies.
It would be the equivalent of Brit Hume saying "I really began to understand [insert issue] after my pal David Duke called me up." But hey, don't all of we normal Americans have a few friends who are flamboyantly gay, HIV positive, found radical activist organizations dedicated to "vigilant acts of political and cultural provocation," and who run around looking for evidence that America's major historical figures were sodomites? Of course we do.
2). Brokaw, in his discussion of Ronald Reagan's presidency (which, to his credit, he gave generally high marks), claimed that Reagan was way too slow in responding to the "AIDS crisis," and that on issues of race Reagan was "still a man of the 1930's and '40's." The first claim, though mindlessly parrotted to this day, is eminently debatable. All recent evidence shows that, despite shrill media pronouncements to the contrary, AIDS in America was (and is still) primarily and overwhelmingly a behavior-related phenomenon among primarily homosexual males. The homosexual community could have stopped the spread of AIDS very quickly by discontinuing its prodigiously promiscuous sexual practices. And the notion that it's the president's job to fight diseases presupposes a rather expansive and paternalistic view of the government--a view that's certainly not conservative. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated by critic after critic that the major media actually gave wildly disproportionate coverage to the AIDS issue in the 1980's. Brokaw's toeing of the party line on the Reagan-was-negligent-on-AIDS issue speaks volumes about his basic worldview.
As for Brokaw's slanderous insinuation about Reagan's views on race (since, after all, "stuck in the '30's on race" is euphemistic for "racist"), he's simply wrong. This again is nothing more than party-line hackery. All the evidence points to the contrary. Everyone who ever knew the man claims exactly the opposite.
Brokaw was a decent looking fellow who could read the teleprompter and make people feel comfortable, which is important in a news anchor. But he was also every bit the reflexively liberal media dinosaur which is currently killing the network news business.