Tom Brokaw

  • Aired:  11/20/13
  •  | Views: 20,664

Legendary newsman Tom Brokaw examines the ways in which John F. Kennedy's assassination profoundly changed America. (6:51)

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS ACORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS.

HIS NEW SPECIAL IS CALLED "WHEREWERE YOU THE DAY J.F.K. DIED?"

>> THIS WAS A SHOE STORE YOUWERE RUNNING?

>> CORRECT.

>> JOHN BREWER SAW OSWALDPEERING THROUGH THE WINDOW.

WHAT MADE YOU FOLLOW HIM?

A FEELING I HAD SOMETHING WASWRONG WITH THE PICTURE.

WHY DO YOU PRETEND TO BESHOPPING FOR SHOES WHEN THIS

COMMOTION IS GOING ON.

NOW YOU'RE AWARE THAT THEPRESIDENT IS SHOT AT THAT POINT?

>> OH, SURE, YEAH.

>> Jon: PLEASE WELCOME BACK TOTHE PROGRAM TOM BROKAW.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]I WAS STRUCK WATCHING SOME OF

THE SPECIAL AT HOW EMOTIONAL ALOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT WERE

AROUND THE SCENE OF IT.

YOU TALKED TO NOT JUST THE WIDOWOF LIKE THE POLICE OFFICER THAT

WAS KILLED BUT THE SURGEON THATWAS IN -- THE 31-YEAR-OLD

SURGEON.

>> IT WAS A DEFINING MOMENTIN THE LIVES OF A LOT OF

PEOPLE, JON.

I'VE BEEN LIVING WITH THIS FORMORE THAN A YEAR.

I WAS 20 WHEN HE WAS ELECTED.

IT WAS A BIG MOMENT IN MY LIFEBECAUSE IT CHANGED POLITICS IN

THIS COUNTRY.

IT HAD A LOT TO DO WITH THIS WASTHE FIRST PRESIDENT WE ALL

SHARED BECAUSE OF TELEVISION.

HE WAS IN EVERYONE'S HOME EVERYNIGHT.

WE HAD NOT HAD THAT PHENOMENONBEFORE

HE WAS SO CHARISMATIC.

BY THAT STAGE OF HIS PRESIDENCYHIS NUMBERS WERE GOING UP.

HE HAD BECOME POPULAR AGAINAFTER THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS.

IT WAS A REAL TRANSITION IN HOWWE PERCEIVED POLITICANS AND THE

CONNECTION WE FELT TO THEM.

IT WAS SUCH A VIOLENT ENDING. IWAS A REPORTER IN OMAHA AND I

REMEMBER READING IT ON THE AIR.

I HAD TWO PARTS OF MY MINDWORKING PERSONAL AND ALSO

THINKING THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN INTHIS COUNTRY.

>> Jon: IT USHERED IN AN ERAOF VIOLENCE AND UPHEAVEL BUT IT

WAS THE IGNITION POINT FOR THAT.

PEOPLE WOULD HAVE TO GO ALL THEWAY BACK TO -- I GUESS YOU WOULD

GO -- WHO WAS THE LAST PRESIDENTTO HAVE BEEN ASSASSINATED FROM

THAT POINT McKINLEY.

>> YES.

>> Jon: NOBODY -->> SHOTS WERE FIRED AT

ROOSEVELT.

TRUMAN, THE PUERTO RICANNATIONALS CAME UP AND GOT INTO

THE -- THIS GUY SEEMED TO USWATCHING HIM AT THAT TIME LIKE

HE WAS INVULNERABLE.

HE WAS SO GREAT LOOKING.

THE PRESIDENCY WAS GOING WELL.

JACKIE SITTING BESIDE HIM.

SUDDENLY RIFLE SHOTS AND AMERICACHANGED PROFOUNDLY.

WE WENT BACK TO THE KIND OFOLDER -- LYNDON JOHNSON TAKING

THE OVAL OFFICE AND THE KENNEDYADMINISTRATION WAS OVER.

>> Jon: YOU REMEMBER THETRANSFORMATION THAT BOBBY

KENNEDY UNDERWENT AFTER THATASSASSINATION.

I WAS VERY YOUNG WHEN BOBBYKENNEDY AND MARTIN LUTHER KING

WERE ASSASSINATED.

I REMEMBER THOSE EVENTS VIVIDLY.

THE DEFINING MOMENTS I REMEMBERAS A KID AND THERE WAS TAUNTING

IN THERE BUT MOSTLY THEASSASSINATIONS.

>> I THINK NO ONE MADE A MOREIMPRESSIVE TRANSITION

MIDSTREAM THAN BOBBY KENNEDY.

HE WAS JACK KENNEDY'S ENFORCER,HIS CLOSEST COUNSELOR, A TOUGH

GUY BEHIND THE SCENES.

IT WAS ALWAYS BOBBY PUTTING HISFINGER IN SOMEBODY'S CHEST.

OBVIOUSLY IN 1968 BECAUSE OF WARAND CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND

SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS THAT COULDYOU SEE DEVELOP ON THE FLY

ALMOST HE BECAME THE MOSTINTERESTING POLITICIAN OF

THAT ERA.

>> Jon: WHEN YOU ARE TALKINGTO PEOPLE WHO WERE DOWN THERE,

AS YOU SPEAK TO THEM, ARE THEIRMEMORIES DO THEY FEEL PERSONAL

OR ALMOST A NARRATIVE CREATEDFROM THE DAY, FROM ALL THE

EXPERIENCE THEY HAVE EXPERIENCEDFROM THAT DAY?

IS IT DIFFICULT TO SEPARATETHOSE THINGS?

>> I THINK FOR THEM IT'S VERYPERSONAL.

THEY RESERVED A PARTOF THEIR MEMORY BANK

AND EMOTION FROM THAT DAY.

EMJOHN BREWER YEAR WHO YOU SAWTHERE

HE DID MAKE IT POSSIBLE TOGET OSWALD EARLY BECAUSE HE

FOLLOWED HIM TO THEMOVIE THEATER.

HE CHANGED HIS LIFE.

HE GOT OUT OF DALLAS, WENT INTHE NAVY FOR A WHILE.

THIT'S JUST BEEN RECENTLY THATHE'S BEEN ABLE TO COPE AGAIN

WITHTHE IDEA OF JOHN BREWER THAT

FOUND OSWALD AND HE COULD HAVE ALIFE.

NFL FOOTBALL PLAYERS WHODIDN'T WANT TO PLAY ON THAT

SUNDAY BUT THEY WERE TOLD TO.

>> Jon: PEOPLE FORGET, TOO,THE REACTION TO DALLAS IN

GENERAL WAS HARSH.

THE CITY ITSELF IT'S ATHLETICTEAMS IT'S PEOPLE.

PEOPLE WERE -- THEY DIDN'T KNOWWHERE TO PUT THEIR ANGER AND

DISTRESS AND THEY DIRECTED ITSOMETHING AT A CITY.

>> IT TURNS OUT DALLAS HADNOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD HAD A BROTHERTHERE.

>> Jon: ONE OF THE GUYSOBVIOUSLY.

>> WE DO DEAL WITH THAT AS WELL.

>> Jon: YOU DEAL WITH THECONSPIRACY THEORIES.

WHEN THEY ARE CONFRONTED WITHTHE WIDOW OF THE COP THAT OSWALD

KILLED, HOW DO THEY RECONCILETHAT?

>> THERE'S A CIRCUS OFCONSPIRACY, PEOPLE WITH CARD

TABLES TELLING YOU THE VIDEOTAPES, PICTURES OF THE AUTOPSY

OR HIM ON THE EXAMINATION TABLEI SAY THERE WERE SIX EYE

WITNESSES THAT SAW HIM SHOT.

THEY SAY YEAH BUT HE HAD AN AUTOMATIC AND IT WAS A

REVOLVER AND ALMOST NONE OF ITADDS UP IN THAT CASE.

I'M PERSUADED IT WAS OSWALD.

>> Jon: FASCINATINGDOCUMENTARY.

THERE'S THIS BOOK THAT GOESALONG WITH IT WHERE WERE YOU THE

DAY J.F.K. DIED AIRS ON NBC THISFRIDAY NIGHT AT 9:00 P.M.

THE COMPANION BOOK IS ON THESHELVES NOW, RIGHT?

>> IT IS.

IT'S EXACTLY THE 50thANNIVERSARY ON THIS FRIDAY.

>> Jon: I WAS ALMOST A YEAROLD WHEN IT HAPPENED I REMEMBER

THINKING EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.

>> AND I REMEMBER AS WELLBECAUSE WE'VE GONE BACK IN YOUR

NEIGHBORHOOD THEY TALK ABOUT YOUHAD A TASTE FOR CHICAGO PIZZA.

>> Jon: THAT'S IT BROKAW.

TOM BROKAW.

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