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Tom Brokaw retires after legendary 55-year career at NBC News

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NBC newsman Tom Brokaw is hanging up his microphone.

Brokaw, 80, is retiring after a 55-year career with NBC, the network’s news division announced Friday. He holds the distinction of being the only person to helm all of NBC News’ three signature shows: “Today,” “NBC Nightly News” and “Meet the Press.”

The South Dakota native plans to spend time with his wife, Meredith, three daughters and grandchildren, and says he’ll remain active as a journalist and author. His first book, “The Greatest Generation,” was a huge success, coining a name for the generation of Americans who lived through the Great Depression and fought in World War II.

“During one of the most complex and consequential eras in American history, a new generation of NBC News journalists, producers and technicians is providing America with timely, insightful and critically important information, 24/7. I could not be more proud of them,” Brokaw said in a statement. 

Tom Brokaw, seen in 2014 when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is retiring after a 55-year career at NBC News.

Early in Brokaw’s journalism career, he covered Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination, and as NBC’s chief White House correspondent, Watergate. He began hosting “Today” in 1976 and became anchor of “Nightly News” in 1983. He was an interim host of “Meet the Press” after longtime moderator Tim Russert’s death in 2008.

Brokaw’s 22-year tenure at “Nightly News” coincided with long runs by rivals Peter Jennings at ABC and Dan Rather at CBS, at a time when network news anchors had much more power and authority than they do today.

Brokaw’s most recent appearance on an NBC News program was Dec. 30, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Brokaw’s career highlights include being the first American journalist to interview Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 and the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

He has received top journalism awards: Peabody, Dupont, Emmy and The Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Brokaw the Medal of Freedom and France inducted him into the Legion of Honor in 2016 for his work on behalf of “Greatest Generation” veterans.

Tom Brokaw, right, talks to Jane Pauley before her first appearance on "Today," NBC's signature morning show, in 1976.

Brokaw was diagnosed in 2013 with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and continued working while he was being treated. He announced the cancer was in remission in 2014.

In 2018, Brokaw denied accusations of sexual harassment made by two women, including former NBC and Fox News journalist Linda Vester, who said he made unwanted sexual advances in the 1990s. Brokaw disputed the claims, and more than 60 NBC News colleagues, including Rachel Maddow, Kelly O’Donnell and Andrea Mitchell, signed a letter defending Brokaw’s character.

Brokaw started his TV news career at stations in Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Atlanta. He joined NBC in 1966, reporting from Los Angeles where he also anchored KNBC’s 11 p.m. newscast.

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