He made the announcement in a statement on Friday.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Brokaw, 80, was the anchor of NBC Nightly News from 1982-2004. Since then, he has been a part of NBC News’ special event coverage, serving a special correspondent and often providing commentary and analysis from an historic perspective. His 2001 book The Greatest Generation put the spotlight on the sacrifice of a generation of Americans through the Great Depression and World War II. The book’s title is now commonly used to refer to WWII veterans and their families.
Brokaw will continue to be active in print journalism and write books, along with spending more time with his wife, Meredith, his three daughters and grandchildren, the network said.
Brokaw started at the network in 1966, when he was assigned to the Los Angeles bureau and covered Ronald Reagan’s successful first run for public office — governor of California — while anchoring the nightly newscast at KNBC-TV. He moved to Washington to serve as the network’s White House correspondent in 1973, where he covered the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation. He then became co-host of Today in 1976, paired with Jane Pauley.
Six years later, after John Chancellor stepped down, Brokaw was paired with Roger Mudd to co-anchor Nightly News. But the teaming didn’t work, and Brokaw became sole anchor and managing editor in 1983. He rose to the top of the ratings, and his standout moments included being the first American journalist to interview Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and to report from Berlin the night that the Berlin Wall came down.
A week after leading the network’s coverage of 9/11, Brokaw was among the targets of an anthrax attack. He was not injured, but his longtime assistant was infected, having opened a threatening letter laced with white powder that had been addressed to Brokaw. He addressed what happened on the air, expressing his anger but also his relief at an antibiotic treatment.
After the death of longtime Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert in 2008, Brokaw served as the interim host of the show, until David Gregory was tapped for the permanent post later in the year.
Brokaw was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. The same year, the network named its new Los Angeles broadcast facility on the Universal lot after him. In 2018, Variety and The Washington Post published allegations from former NBC News correspondent Linda Vester, who claimed that he groped her during the 1990s. But he denied her claims, writing a rebuttal letter in which he said that she had “unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News.” Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell and dozens of other women who worked at the network signed a public letter supporting Brokaw.
Along with Dan Rather at CBS Evening News and Peter Jennings at World News Tonight, Brokaw was part of a 1980s and ’90s era of superstar anchors, chasing big “get” and going to the scene of major news events. But the impact of the nightly broadcast has waned since then, with the rise of opinion-driven talking heads on cable news networks and a diffusion of information sources on the internet.
Brokaw appeared on Morning Joe on Dec. 30, but his appearances on NBC networks have tapered off in recent years. On Friday, he tweeted about the death of Hank Aaron, writing, “what a loss. great ball player, great man. we became friends when i did a documentary with him he described growing up in South and being told he couldn’t play because he was black – which made him all the more determined. a gentle giant one of my great heroes.”
hank aaron – what a loss. great ball player, great man.
we became friends when i did a documentary with him
he described growing up in South and being told he couldn’t
play because he was black – which made him all the more determined.
a gentle giant
one of my great heroes
— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) January 22, 2021