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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  May 17, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: tom brokaw is here. he was the anchor for nbc nightly news for more than 20 years and he continues to report for nbc news as a special correspondent. this past weekend he spoke to the graduating class at ole miss. he was graduated -- diagnosed with cancer in 2013. his book on his struggle with cancer is now out on paperback. it is called "a lucky life interrupted, a memoir in hope." i am pleased to have you back at this table. you not only did that, you said
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that if you were speaking at the university of alabama, you would have to speak in shorter sentences. tom: it is a standard line for me. at commencements, i took out the rival of the school. someone actually did radio commentary. it was a joke. if i were alabama i would say the same thing about florida state. if i were in ohio, i would talk about michigan. it is something i have used over the years and i knew as soon as i said it that alabama would go nuts. they have lost the last two football games they played against ole miss and they happened to be there, so that is why i did it. and i saw my friend curtis runs a very good journalism department down there. they have gone from 25 students to more than 200. they won this past year, the big collegiate press association
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investigative reporting for work they did in the delta about how the delta has not changed necessarily consistent with the civil rights movement. there are a lot of very bright students. i did a lecture there a couple years ago and there was a young one who i said i could get you a job right now. she wisely said i have to go and get some experience. they have some great kids. charlie: how is your health? tom: my health is ok. charlie: by the way, he calls me charles, so my mother would love him. tom: we have known each other a long time. my health is ok, i am in remission. that is the place you want to be. but dr. kissinger said to me one day, where does it go after remission? i don't have an answer for that. i am in remission, but i take drugs. i'm on a chemotherapy drug. i take one every morning.
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five milligrams. that will go on for the rest of my life unless they come up with a cure. it is an incurable but treatable cancer. if you read "the new york times" over the weekend, all of the buzz is about gene therapy. i do think we are advancing quickly to what will be known as the golden age of cancer research. charlie: there's also the piece on the polio virus. tom: they are taking our own genes and reengineering them and reinserting them. there was an astonishing case about a woman who is doing that. at the mayo clinic, there was a woman in her third remission. she had one more shot, they said we are going to give you a megadose of measles vaccine and she was cured, still is. at this point, they are throwing balls of the wall.
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obviously, they are paying a lot of attention to the research, but that is the direction in which it is moving. using her own body, using your own cells to reengineer. there are good cells as well bad cells. you are sending the good ones after the bad ones. charlie: you have also spoken about how the health care industry has learned from your experience and what you have written. tom: it has been encouraging to me that hospitals and prominent doctors have said to me, we need to do a better job of communication. that is a lot of what i write about. i'm a journalist, i'm used to tough news, but i have thought a lot about that day i was diagnosed in blunt terms. you have a malignancy. those are the first lines at the doctor's office. i later said to him, why were you so candid? he said, we only had you for another 24 hours. if i had been a layperson, i
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would be bewildered. doctors go back and they start working on the treatment. there are a thousand questions that come into the mind of a person who was just diagnosed. one of the things i have been working on is getting patients to find other patients who have gone through this experience and be in touch with them. there is a whole master list. charlie: a directory of patients. tom: yes. they are in the houston area so they are mostly there. if someone gets diagnosed with a kind of cancer, they can i did in the file. had jennifer as an er physician, and she was at my side and asking the right questions and conferring with the doctors. i have told everybody since then who gets cancer, find a doctor who is a friend, man or woman, they do not have to be an
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oncologist, but they can help you through the mysteries of medicine. charlie: because they can ask the right questions. tom: in your own mind you cannot treat a doctors office like a mayan temple. by the way, is very subjective . it is a kind of cancer but it has a lot of variations on the theme about how to be treated and how it affects you. you and i have a common friend, someone going through a very difficult time with this cancer. i have been lucky. remission for about eight months since they started treating me and everyone is happy and it stayed there. charlie: tom brokaw had the best doctors in the world. tom brokaw had all the resources. tom brokaw had a family that was there to ask the right questions. and tom could pay for it. tom: here's what i thought about. i grew out in the great plains, working-class background it
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-- background. there's someone out there who works in a gas station, put enough money to buy his own guest patient, maybe got a convenience store and he is living the american dream. he is in his mid-40's, making $300,000 a year. he gets my cancer. he's bewildered. because he does not have the access i do to have the experts. but if you go online, the mayo clinic has a great line. all the great cancer centers do. his health-care plan is probably one of the key finances as a businessman. it does not begin to cover the cost. these are the difficult things we have to deal with. charlie: you also say that either you have cancer or you do not. it is two different worlds. if you do not have cancer, you
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can be sympathetic. but if you do have cancer, you can be empathetic. tom: when a member of your family has cancer, everybody has cancer, in a manner of speaking. and i do not mean that in the darkest possible terms. the concentration is on that cancer. you see firsthand what they are going through. for the rest of us, we hear a friend has cancer, we are not there when they wake up in the morning or when they take their medication or are incapacitated. and we are not there for the moments of fear. and we see them three months later and they say they are doing pretty well. well, that was a piece of cake. that was not a piece of cake, that is the point. charlie: when was it the worst for you? tom: the fall of 2013. it was really bad when i got diagnosed. a week after i was diagnosed i did a dumb thing, i went fishing in montana. i was in a paralysis of pain. i got back to the ranch and i could not get out of bed. calling the -- kept
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mayo clinic, they kept throwing measles painkillers at me. they had to airlift me out of there and that was a nightmare. charlie: the dumbest thing you did in your life probably. tom: by the time i got into the plane i was hallucinating. when we landed at mayo, i thought we were back in new york. but the interesting time for me was the fall of 2013. the weather was terrible. i had confined my cancer to a very small group of people. i wanted to go out every day and walk a half a block to get a bagel. i do that to a coffee shop. it was sleeting and snowing and and i was not moving very well. at the bus stop there was a huge larger-than-life poster of tom brady advertising ugg boots.
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the women were mooning over him. i get up to him and i look at him, but pardon me and i dropped the f-bomb at him. it made me feel better. i actually told that to him later. i had never met him before. his friends all laughed. charlie: would you keep it from your children as long as you did have you had to do it over? tom: the children were tuned in pretty quickly. it was the circle of friends. at nbc, the only ones i told were my big boss at the time. i did not want to be on the internet, tom brokaw cancer victim. i was doing the anniversary of kennedy's assassination and i told my team, i have a bad back, we will have to edit at my house. these things are very portable now, my computer was set up .heir -- there
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when i had to tape it, i went in and taped it and i looked at the tape and i looked god-awful. i said, give me another 24 hours, i will come back into it again. i pulled it together and he would not have known i had cancer. about christmastime, one of our mutual friends said to me, are you going to be ok? something was wrong. i looked at her and i said, i'm i -- i am not nor. nora ephron was our friend. in a much tougher situation that i was. the greatest line of all was that jon stewart, i had been on his show with the cancer and i'd asked not to have to make a big step up, i said i had a bad back. and it came out i had cancer. jon wrote me a quick note saying you are one tough sob. i had no idea you had cancer. saying, i said was
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no reason for me to trouble you with my difficulties. he wrote back saying, you cannot possibly be jewish. you find out about friends when something like this happens. tom: you find out that the illusion that we are going to live forever goes away very quickly. the idea is, ideally, you set aside your priorities, i'm going to change and go and do the things -- i wanted to continue as much as i possibly could. i wrote this book. i got back to a point where i could go fishing again. one of my friends said to me, how is your tolerance or bs? i have no tolerance for bs. i don't have to do that anymore. condition, youis get asked to do a lot of things,
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preside over events. i have begun to say i'm not going to do as many. charlie: at the same time, one of your good friends said to be -- me, the thing i think most about tom is a generosity. he will get on a plane and go places to do things for people understanding that his celebrity can make a difference. and you still do that. tom: i still do the things i think that are important that i can help people with. i went to southern virginia with -- where there was something called healing waters, wonderful program for taking care of wounded veterans. they can learn to fish in a stream, and it was a cool and rainy weekend and i would not have been anywhere else. i was so taken with who they were and how much they love the sport i care about. all the people were down there and to help them. on the other hand, there are events in new york, we are both on call for those constantly. you pick the ones that have some meaning. tomorrow i'm doing a breakfast here because i want to do as much for cancer as i can.
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if i can help people understand what it is like and get people to step into the fight against cancer i think it will be a good thing. charlie: when you are you, the awards keep coming in now at a more rapid pace. it has just been announced that you have received the french legion of honor. tom: one of the things i've been thinking about a lot this election year is what has been going on around the world and what is going on with the computer age. i guess the reason i have been around as long as i happen is it is all fascinating to me. i love watching the world change and the impact it has on us. very early on i went to silicon valley, i met bill gates and work on getting to know him. i still find myself doing that. i do not know how much you have been in lower manhattan really but we have a silicon valley here in new york.
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charlie: and what they are doing in cornell. tom: and what they are doing in this building with bloomberg. these are huge, transitional moments in the life of the world and the history of the world. charlie: but is what is happening to us politically, a group of people felt like they had been left behind and they do not see the rise in their life that they see and read about elsewhere. tom: i think there is of that but i also think it is not just being left behind in economic terms. even people who have some prosperity are feeling clearly separated from their government. and by the way, as i have been saying to my colleagues, they are also feeling separate from what goes out over television every day.
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a lot of guys sitting around, well-dressed and talking authoritatively. someone in the middle of illinois, they lost her job and saying they do not represent me. i have no problems. this town is drying up. we lost our bank and merchants cannot compete against walmart. charlie: and they blame the establishment. tom: washington is a big piece of it. i do think that money has not had a big impact, but the perception of money and the chasing of money is real. i think a lot of people see that. this was their year and donald trump has been their instrument to wipe that up. here is how trump has changed politics for the long haul. when you stop and think about it, his most effective weapon has been twitter. not spending any money. he is free and getting these people. he is creating rallies that are
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the equivalent of rock 'n roll rallies, there's something entertaining, something to do. he is taking on -- charlie: what is interesting is that is happening to bernie sanders as well. tom: yes. the other side. the mirror image. they feel like they are out of control of institutions. in about 10 seconds i will give you the 20 minute brokaw version about we got here. it was 9/11, people felt on more. the invasion was a disaster, wall street collapsed, nobody in wall street went to jail. people lost their homes, their jobs, their kids were teenagers and they were spending most of their time on social media. president obama said he would not be the president of a blue state or a red state america but united states of america. but he had a liberal agenda. simultaneously said we're going to do everything we can to deny him a reelection.
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the system ground to a halt. at the same time we are sending less than 1% of our publishing to fight this war. this president is now eight years of war. charlie: longer than any other president in american history. longer than abraham lincoln. tom: three years ago i thought that isil and the destabilization of the middle east would define his presidency. i still believe that. i think he cannot leave the presidency with a lot of other if this war is a war without end. and i really think it is a big issue. charlie: do you think he is ratcheting up a little bit now? he hopes to achieve something before he leaves. i think for the best. tom: he is aware of the criticism he met when he did not leave the baseball game in cuba. people said, wait a minute, these are not hard-core republicans saying that, these are analysts. i felt that way.
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a lot about politics and being the president is reality and perception. you have to do the reality but he also have to do the perception part. the symbolic part of it. to be strong and say, i hear you, i know why you are concerned. at the same time, i'm very concerned personally that we continue to talk about santa barbara. about it is going to happen in the next nanosecond. we're not talking about all the mass shootings that have occurred in the last couple years. oregon and other schools. if donald trump says, we have to ban muslims until we figure that out, well, if you are worried about damage, what about banning the a-14? but nobody wants to go there. those are real issues for us as well. i am a gun owner and i have a lot of them, but at the same time we have to get sensible. charlie: this is "the washington post" today. hillary clinton is the time --
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-- struggling to adapt to an anti-establishment move this year have become caution signs for hillary clinton's campaign and the focus of new efforts to afford her position as she prepares for a bruising general election. tom: steve reflected exactly what i believe, a big issue for her is that she has been in the public eye for a long, long time, since 1991, really. before that, with the governor of arkansas. she is a familiar figure. along the way she has become controversial on some issues as well. part of the way she is running against now is the waves that we want some new people in there. one of the reasons trump is doing well is that he has a fresh point of view. people have been around for a long time are having a hard time. bernie sanders has been around for a long time, but he has a
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different point of view. look, somebody said he is one of two nominees, he has one of two chances to win at least. charlie: he is one of the last two people standing. and anything can happen in politics. tom: it is not just about a candidate in the campaign and and how they run it, it is about the world, what happens in the world. do we have an economic catastrophe, another series of terrorist attacks? there are a whole manner of things that can happen. china's economy, which everyone is concerned about. all manner of things can happen. in 1968, lyndon johnson had to leave the white house because of bobby kennedy being killed, dr. king being killed, riots in chicago. richard nixon has put together a different strategy. hubert humphrey almost beat him. 100,000 votes at the end. it came very close to defeating him.
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charlie: i assume even more than broadcasting, even more than being there when the berlin wall came down, it is the fact that he wrote a book about a generation of soldiers that has given you a connection to the
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military and bonded you. one reason the french are honoring you is because of what you have done. bigbig is that one -- how does that loom when you think about the life you have lived? tom: very big. i did not say eureka. i was really writing the book for that generation. for the people i knew who it -- had been through world war ii. the people we met during course of writing the book. but also, it is now 18 years since i wrote the book. i get stopped three or four times a year by people think i did not understand my parents. i believe it is, to a great degree, how i will be remembered. charlie: i think it will be the first line. tom: and that is fine. charlie: and it connected them
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to you too. to give them a voice to think about their own lives. tom: i grew up in an army base and the next thing i did was move to a town which was all corps of engineers building a big dam. everyone was a veteran. i saw how they were and the sacrifices they went through, very much like my parents. whatever you could get you had to earn. now they have a real opportunity and all they want to do is put their head down and work hard and hope they can send their kids to college. my favorite stories is a veteran who i had met did not realize. he called me, he was living in iowa -- idaho and he had a terrible world war ii. his brother was killed in front of him, he was 16 when he lied about his age. he had a ferocious war. for five minutes into the interview and there was a long pause. he said, i just realized i am paying for this phone call.
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i mean, that is depression era. charlie: that reminds he of another story you tell, which is one of your grandchildren call you up. tom: my granddaughter in columbia. i texted her, you have to do that. i asked her she had won the nobel prize yet. she immediately texted back saying no. those things keep you going. charlie: the medal of freedom. i saw you before, i walked in and i had been told. i went over and you did not know and hadn't said anything about it but you knew you had received it. it was an emotional place and time. you think about your parents, if they could see you now. what else? tom: i have to be careful, i get very emotional. i thought a lot about my parents. my dad dropped out of school at 10. my mother wanted to be what i
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am, a journalist, but she was 16 when she graduated from high school, and it cost $100 to go to college, she couldn't do it. she became my managing editor became -- --my dad you have to do the job. they were always there for me. the other part is, my dad had a wicked sense of humor. when the news came out of the big seller is going to make committee called me. he called me and said, is this true? as long as we have known you have always run a little short at the end of the year. charlie: was your dad called red? red, he was very red-haired, brawny guy. he was the toughest kid in town
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going up and he was was determined to get over that reputation. he became a father to a lot of my friends, he fixed their cars and taught them how to tie tight and they still talk about them, my buddies do. charlie: are you more like your mother or father? i'm a combination. i have brains and other parts of that are my mother, but also my father, but i am a real combination of the two. she was fearless. she came to new york and we introduced her to nora ephron. she said, oh, we met before. she said we had met, and she did not remember. charlie: what is the total of the cancer for you? beyond the fact that you have to monitor your health all the time. beyond the fact you might get fatigued more than you have in the past?
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tom: i'm lucky because i went into remission. the chromosomes were in such order that i did not have to have stem cell transplant, which was tough. you have to be in isolation. i could deal with what i had with drugs. the doctors chose not to do it, i did not have to because the drugs were so effective. the other part of it is, you wake up every day being reminded of your mortality. it is still in there. you start to think differently about the end of life. i do not think it will come tomorrow, i hope i live for a good long time. but there is a different reality about it. charlie: how do you serve that reality? for example, david brooks has written about the fact that there's too much emphasis on your resume. you never think about your eulogy. you ought to think about it. what do i want people to understand about me, what to think about me?
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what are the things i have stood for? tom: i do think about that from time to time and i think, i will not be around to hear. let them say what they want to. but you do think about that a little bit. at the same time i am trying to live the life i love. charlie: but you see life with more urgency? tom: not so much urgency as order. you want order in your life. i have led a pretty chaotic life before. i jump on airplanes and go to war zones, whatever is breaking news, i go into that. as you said earlier, i would show up to events i didn't as thoroughly have to be there by with a favor for a friend. i am much more selective about that now and i want to be able to pick and choose. the fact is i would like to be more contemplative. when i was at ole miss i went to
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, the faulkner household. it is very evocative going into those homes of great writers and thinkers and trying to imagine what it was like. there was a chair or he just sat and thought and read other people's works and thought again about his own work. i don't take enough time to stop and think. charlie: are you going to change? tom: no. i think that is hard to do at this age. but you talked about the bathrobe and a cup of coffee. tom: well, i had a little bit of that. i'm doing more of that. the last couple of winters we have taken a rental house in florida. just the two of us have a quiet dinner. we welcome the dog on the beach. we're not having to get to the latest theater thing or whatever. that has been a big change for me. i wish the summer would be less
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chaotic, but we have the elliptic's. -- olympics. i'm going to do some work before the olympics, i do not think i'll have to stay through the olympics. i also have to be careful with travel. my immune system is open to infection. often what happens is people die of pneumonia or a respiratory condition of some kind because the infection hits and they cannot get it under control. in the middle of my treatment i got hammered by an infectious bronchial condition of some kind, a bad flu. jenny from california said, how is he doing? she said, he has been sleeping for 12 hours. and she said get him into the hospital right now. i was on ivs for a couple days. that is what you have to be on guard against. charlie: you described it as being a whiz kid until --
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tom: i fell off. i had a double major. charlie: and then you had a woman who came along and said, straighten up. tom: she was 16 and she had my number, and it was meredith. she got me on track again. i thought our relationship was over. we were not really romantically involved, we were dating some but i really thought it was gone. then when she dropped the hammer on me i really thought it was gone. she said i changed and then she said to her sister -- it was a big surprise to people when the two of us got together. my line is that we did not get together earlier because she thought i fooled around too much and i thought she didn't fool around enough. that was always my line. it was meant to be. regrets, sure. things i am done over the years, i will check have that one back. but by and large, i was
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fortunate in that i had a skill set that worked for the rise of broadcasting. charlie: what was that skill set? i am pretty verbal and i can -- tom: i am pretty verbal and i can also write. i was about to get on an airplane out of atlanta. charlie: it is amazing what you have done. you saw up close the civil rights revolution. you saw up close the reagan revolution. you saw up close the cultural revolution. i mean, i spoke to journalism students because i was on campus at duke this past weekend. i said to them, the chance to be an eyewitness to history is a remarkable opportunity to have a truly challenging and satisfying life. tom: i don't mean this in a self-congratulatory way, but i have always thought of myself as
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a reporter from main street. i was thought i understood the country. i came from main street, but i had a big appetite for bright big city. even when i was a teenager in south dakota i was reading about it. i told mike nichols that when i heard him come i knew there was another life out there and i want to be a part of that. i came to new york when i was 17 for a couple days. i was on a quiz show and i walked all over the city and saw everything. god, this is kind of the life i want. once i got to the city i still loved it but i was drawn back to the wilderness and drawn back to the great plains and i spent a lot of my time there as well. that is for the privilege of my life. charlie: is fishing, other than
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work, your biggest passion? tom: that and bird hunting. a lot of people have a hard time understanding that but i started doing it when i was 10. it is a camaraderie. you are out there with your buddies. it is a tough sport. pheasants or quail, beautiful settings. i am a dog guy, as you know. my dogs have been great. that has been thrilling, frankly, to be out there doing that. those two things. i just love the outdoors. there's something when you are fishing, there's something that is spiritual about it. you are in the water and the surroundings. i remember, last year in montana i was in a remote river and i had my dog with me, and i turned around and 35 feet behind the is bowl --d me is a large bull moose. that was thrilling and also tell
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terrifying because they will attack you. i was worried about noticing the -- worried but i kept wading. i was hoping the moose would stay where he was and he did. that was thrilling to be out there in the middle of the wilderness and a big moose shows up. charlie: the idea of silence. i'm not a fly fisherman and i know the times i have done it, it is the stillness and the silence and nothing but the rustling of the stream that you hear. tom: i like pushing myself. i am no means a world-class athlete. i'm good enough to do the things i like to do, but i have these really good friends who had a terrible time this winter. doug tompkins, he died in a drowning accident. but he was there with a close friend and i have done things with all those guys. we kayaked in the russian far east.
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it was take a step, and drag thomas, as i described it. we have talked over the years, he said you were way over your head on a couple of these things but you did not give up. you kept pushing on. i knew my limits, i knew how much i could get done and i wanted to do it. charlie: that is exactly what you got from the guy who was a of ther of war, japanese. he told you, how did he survive? i am never going to give in, never going to give up. tom: what they did for us was tell us the horrific conditions. that was the untold part of world war ii until that book came out. the japanese prison camp were god-awful. a violation of the most fundamental human rights. all the guys who made it, and a lot of them didn't, had the same thing. you had to create your own world and live in it. you could not do anything else.
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one of the guys i wrote about saw his captain beheaded in front of him because he would not kowtow to the japanese commander of the camp. he would not get down on his knees and they beheaded him. he said i had my world and i had to live in my head. i had to live only in my world and i created that world and that is where i lived. charlie: i have talked to people who have been in those situations. you have to deal with the day to day reality by creating your own world. almost with the idea that you will not get out of there right now. charlie: -- tom: i have never been that tested. one time i did say, we were at the end of a three-day mountaineering ski trip. i was so exhausted and he wanted to go to one more peak. i said, no i'm not feeling
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well, which was not true. he said, no, it is ok. i said, ok i have a fatal disease. i will say anything at this point. i'm not going to do it. ♪
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tom: writing books are hard. but i am at a stage in my life where i have something to say
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and people are responding to what i have to say. i'm interested always in the future of this country and how we got to where we are. how we may be able to get to the next place in our lives. if i could add to that dialogue in a civil way and do it importantly, i would like to do it. i have no idea of whether i will get it done or not. i have this kind of informal testing the water thing with doris kearns goodwin and others. they tell me, it is a good idea, but we will see. charlie: what is an idea you might started on? tom: i'm starting to write essays about it. charlie: one of the bucket list things was to write a short story. tom: i would still like to do
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that. i have a notion in mind but i do not know -- my friend is a great short story writer. he is published constantly in "the new yorker." it always intimidates me because i get to the point where i think i could start and i read one of his short stories and i think i cannot do that. but i also like writing nonfiction. but at the moment i'm into some essays about things i've seen, things i have enjoyed in my life. charlie: you have had such a remarkable life and such amazing friends. i know of no one -- and i have thought of doing this myself, i know of no one better able to write about the essence of friendship then you. you have and have had remarkable friends. famous, not famous. you really have an unparalleled sense of connection. and they are not all famous. they are people who have lived the life that you admire.
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because of the values that they have come to -- tom: in many ways i am drawn to those who are not famous, quite frankly. my one friend is famous and a small world, but he is an anti-celebrity. what i like about him is he goes out and gets the job done about whatever, he's constantly reinventing things. a lot of people that do not even have a name that he does come over the years i have stayed in touch with them because they are interesting and they do not do it for attention, they do it because it is rewarding to them in some fashion. one of the things i like about writers who do not become really famous is that they stay committed to it and they have ideas that they think the country should read and hear about. i am drawn to that. i was always aggressive about friendships. i was always finding interesting people. charlie: but you are a note writer. i get notes from you now when you see something i have done
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that you like. you have a great sense of generosity to tell people well done. tom: i do that because i think you deserve it, for one thing, and i think it is part of being civil and being a friend. i had a friend in the major leagues, it didn't happen often in south dakota. he was the second baseman and he won the world series. he almost won the m.v.p. but he did not get a hit in the entire series. but beginning from the time he went aaa i was writing and -- him notes. you are going to make it, this will be fun. it was fun to watch them is way up the ranks and become a major leaguer. that was unheard of in our small town. charlie: any part of this planet you haven't seen that you wish you could see? you have fished in montana, i
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assume you have fished in mongolia? tom: i had. i didn't catch one of the big guys but i caught in the most clear lake i'd ever seen in my life. it was during a horse festival. i went downstream, by the time i got back, there were two families on the other side of the stream. they were fascinated by my equipment. so i left it for them. they left me a horse to ride back to camp. and it was a wild stallion. i got on the thing and it went to the river and to the camp and everything. i finally got it under control. i came flying into camp on this horse.
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my knees were up to here, followed by about 15 kids. charlie: did you for a moment think about politics? tom: no, i really didn't. people have asked me. both republicans and democrats. in part because i sought from the inside how hard it is. but i want to be who i am, i want to be a political journalist. i want to try and find a place where i could explain what is going on and why it is important. charlie: warren buffett has it -- said that he would give up one year of his life if he knew what was going to happen in the next 40 years. tom: i think that is right. just when you get comfortable at a certain age and a certain
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amount of experience at thinking, i have a good fix on what is going to happen, it changes. they get tired of me at nbc, but the operating there is the unforeseeable occurring. i started last year -- donald trump is the unforeseen occurrence. nobody saw this happening. they look like they are americans working in the embassy in iran, stuffing their columns into -- burning their columns. charlie: is trump the only one ? o could have pulled this off remarkable a promoter and salesman. tom: if you stop and think about it, all those candidates
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running, the former governor of florida, the governor of ohio, senator from texas -- all of those candidates, far and away the best known guy was donald trump. america did not know those guys. they knew donald trump. charlie: but it was the birther stuff which gave him a certain identity. tom: he knew how to press the hot buttons and he has been on television for 40 years. charlie: the idea is, can you change without losing that core support that got him near? tom: i guess conventional wisdom is, he cannot change 180 degrees, but he can fine tune it so he does not lose the people who got him to where he is what -- he is. a lot of folks are saying come is that we got you want to see as the president of the united states? do you want your kids look up to someone like that? we will see.
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charlie: that is one of the attractive things about barack obama, his family. tom: we have never been anything like this before. i honestly think it is a game changer. charlie: it will lead to what? tom: how presidential politics will be conducted in the future. those guys who have created dynasties as the managers and media buyers for presidential candidates. you get these huge media teams and at the end of the campaign , if they lose they get their , money and they are onto the next one. this one was won on twitter. charlie: on the other hand, bernie sanders. tom: same thing. the money he needed he raised in five dollar and $20 donations. it is a big rejection of politics as usual. no question about it. big push back against the so-called keepers of the flame. charlie: but we have seen parties at their worst comeback. look at the lyndon johnson landslide.
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a man that you knew and covered well gave a speech. then four years later he is running in miami. tom: when goldwater got beat by lbj, they did a documentary called the death of the republican party. charlie: goldwater. then after mcgovern and lyndon johnson and the war. tom: there were also proactive things that happened after that. in the case of 1968, richard nexen, who no one thought could make a comeback, saw with his political brilliance, he put together the southern strategy. charlie: silent majority. tom: right. when mcgovern lost in 1972, guys and guys guysn like that found a third way.
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a democratic governor of a southern state, he knew where the template of the country was. what works for them. charlie: conservative on fiscal policy and moderate on social issues. tom: the best thing that ever happened to clinton was he lost his first reelection for governor. it did not make him more humble but he knew you had to deal with. charlie: some will argue the fact he was a southern governor and he had to deal with the legislature was a positive thing when he became president. tom: i really believe that. charlie: senator obama never had that kind of experience. tom: you could say the same about ronald reagan can -- rating. -- ronald reagan. i covered him and then i went to the white house and all my friends are saying, come on, is not going to happen. watch. charlie: surrounded by people like that. tom: one quick story.
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i got to the white house. after about eight weeks, i said to them, i tell you why he's had been in, he office for six weeks. he was an extraordinarily skilled leader of democrats in california. he ran the legislature and the house, he was the speaker. we were doing business and he was a tough guy and he said, this sob is so much smarter than we realize. he said, we can do business about -- with him. i didn't think that was possible. there was something about reagan. he was fearless about picking the right people. jim baker, one of the smartest moves he could've made was making jim baker the chief of staff. charlie: and one of the smartest things jim baker did was to not get george bush to continue. you made that documentary of jim
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baker. whenever people write secretary of state, they always think of kissinger, but they always come to jim baker as someone that when they look at him, they appreciate more the style he had. and it had to do with his relationship with the president. tom: i have gotten to be so fond of him personally. but i really believe he is one of our great living statesman. that is not just me saying that, it is wherever i go. and even democrats. he has become a great statesman, he has conducted himself very well. tough, smart, and it was not about him. he knew how to serve reagan by doing the things he needed to do. then he served his friend george bush. charlie: it is great to have you here.
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at this table. to see you my friend. tom: charlie, we have known each other a long time. you have been very generous to me and i am grateful for that. charlie: the book is, "a lucky life interrupted," now in paperback. tom brokaw thank you for joining , us. see you next time. ♪
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mark: you are watching the request. the u.s. senate passed legislation that would allow 9/11 victims and their families to sue the saudi government for any role it may have played in the attacks. >> we have a good relationship with the saudi's and we want to keep it a good relationship. but when a government participates in terrorism, they should pay a price. and it will be worse if they are not brought to justice, because it will encourage others to do it. senator schumer speaking of the sponsor. the white house has promised to veto the legislation, saying it could expose americans overseas to legal risk.


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