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Hannity

Brokaw: Economic downturn deeper, wider than anyone anticipated

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: We are joined by the author of a terrific new book, "The Time of Our Lives," which is now out in paperback, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw. How are you, sir?

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Sean, I'm very well. Thanks for having me on.

HANNITY: Oh, we really appreciated it. And I love the book. We were just talking about Tim Russert and big Russ and the books that he wrote and how successful they were. And I love "The Greatest Generation." It was also awesome.

You have been to a lot of conventions, covered a lot of conventions. We saw a pretty unique scene on the floor earlier today, where, you know, they had taken out of the Democratic platform, a reference to God and Jerusalem, was not the capital of Israel and the boos were so loud. What did you think of that?

BROKAW: Well, you know, how that kind of thing happens is beyond me. I must say -- just as I was a little puzzled last week although I know a lot of people liked it -- but when Clint Eastwood got on stage and began wandering around and doing the riff that he was doing. So, these things can be tightly scripted up to a point, but something always gets by. Why the Democrats would do that to themselves is beyond me.

HANNITY: Yes, I mean, especially because they had these references --

BROKAW: Right. Right.

HANNITY: -- before and why they would take it out.

You know, you've covered conventions and I have watched you a lot over the years, when it is always going to be a simple one-on-one question, are you better off than you were four years ago? And you see the answers that have been flying around. No. Maybe. Yes, by every measure. Incomplete. What do you --

BROKAW: Well, I have reduced it to this. I have said, here's what I think the campaign is going to come down to, Governor Romney is going to say about Obama, look what he has done to you. And the president's going to say about Romney, look what he's going to do to you. So, I think that's probably going to be the intersection of it all.

I will say this, Sean, I do think that this downturn was deeper and wider than anybody anticipated, including Republicans and Democrats.

HANNITY: Oh, when you look at the numbers, I mean, they are pretty significant. You know, I am sure you saw the ABC/Washington post poll.

BROKAW: Yes.

HANNITY: But 69 percent say that the country is on the wrong track. Other statistics -- we have, only, what? Thirty one percent of voters believe that we are in a better shape now than we were four years ago. Very difficult re-election conditions for anybody.

BROKAW: Absolutely. And in fact, I've raised those very questions with Valerie Jarrett today on "Morning Joe," I'm permitted to say that, right?

HANNITY: Yes. Sure. Of course.

BROKAW: Anyhow, we talked about that because she was obviously giving what she hoped would be the positive Obama message and we let her finish and said, but 69 percent of the country says, we are headed on the wrong track. I have been all over this country, I'm kind of the reporter from Main Street. Have been throughout my adult career. And what I hear on Main Street at this point is a lot of wariness about the promises that are made -- actually by both sides because they have been burned so many times.

HANNITY: Sure.

BROKAW: And the last 12 years. I mean, wars, recession, and with everything that they were assured would not happen, in fact, did happen. And if you look at the last three years alone, the first quarter looked really promising, everybody gets really excited about the economy. Second and third quarter, it goes back in the tank again.

HANNITY: Well, the president was very clear. He said it was the worst economy since the great depression, when he was campaigning. And then he said that he would cut the deficit in half or this would be a one-term-proposition, he said it on NBC, and he also said that he's going to have shovel-ready jobs. We have fewer Americans working, $5.4 trillion in new Obama debt. When everything, all the clutter is put aside, does it come down to that? Are you better off? Four years ago, $5 trillion in debt ago?

BROKAW: I think it is less about the debt than it is about employment and about the confidence in the future. I really do. Part of the debt was unfunded wars. Part of that debt was proposition "D," attached to Medicare, unfunded prescription drug benefits.

HANNITY: That actually did better, that was the only program that actually did better than what they were projected. One of the few in history.

BROKAW: Right. But at any rate, I mean, my own impression of this is -- and I have been doing this for a long time. We all got into this together, to one degree or another. You know, there are a lot of consumers who knew what was going on. We turned our backs on the people who went to war -- both administrations did -- we let less than one percent of our population take 100 percent of the bullets, come home in body bags, come home emotionally troubled. Their families were left behind here with no one reaching out to them and trying to find the support services that they need. That happened in both administrations. We finally are beginning to catch up to it.

So, my really strong impression is that there is a longing in the country for us to find a big idea that we can all rally around.

HANNITY: You know, in the courses of my career, I've been very fortunate, I've gotten to know you. And you and I get along very well, I really loved Tim Russert. I've really thought he was probably the best at what he did in his profession, obviously not an anchor like you. But I knew Peter Jennings, Peter Jennings came into my radio studio once, he'd read my book, cover to cover, underlined it.

BROKAW: Right.

HANNITY: And almost every point. Dan Rather, maybe he doesn't like me so much but long story there. Media's changed a lot.

BROKAW: It has. There is more of it.

HANNITY: There is more of it. There is the Internet, there's Fox, there's cable, there's NBC, et cetera. For the better or for the worse?

BROKAW: I actually think it's for the better. One of the strong arguments that I made when I go before any audience in America, whatever their ideological makeup is, you can no longer be a couch potato. If you want to be a good news consumer, you've got to get aggressive. You've got to figure out what works for and you what doesn't work -- and not just works for you, but what can you count on? What has integrity? And you need to apply the same test to that that you would be to buying a shirt or a flat- screen television or a new razor or almost anything --

HANNITY: You need to research it all.

BROKAW: You've got to do some research. I mean, there was a time when you got the paper in the morning on the front stoop, watched a little bit of the "Today" show, caught the evening news and maybe a bit of local news. That's no longer good enough. There are too many choices out and there are too many other people across the spectrum who are trying to manipulate you in some fashion, all the bloggers that are working left and right and back again. So you need to take a deep breath and say, I've got a responsibility here, to myself, to my family, to my community.

HANNITY: Do you think we get to a point when you look at the ratings in the old days, ABC, NBC, CBS, you guys had a kind of bit of a monopoly --

BROKAW: Oh, no. Not just a bit of a monopoly! We had a monopoly!

HANNITY: All right. I was being charitable.

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW: We liked it.

HANNITY: You owned it. I bet you did. Is getting to the point, they may not be at these conventions, four, 12 years from now.

BROKAW: Well, I think that the convention themselves may not be exactly in the same form. Sean, I actually wrote something in The Times a week ago saying it's time to re-examine how we do this, how much money is spent here. Everybody who has arrived here this week, everybody who arrived last week, it was shake and bake. They knew what was going to happen. They had their candidates at the top of the ticket, the platforms have been written in advance, the speeches have been vetted, the delegates were all told where to sit, when to stand --

HANNITY: That's why today was so exciting because that was unanticipated.

BROKAW: It was unanticipated.

HANNITY: Well, conservatives like myself for years have pointed out, media bias. Do you understand why we say that -- and I do a whole -- I do an example every week, we do media mash and we show the mainstream media in particular.

BROKAW: Right.

HANNITY: And we show examples of just how biased they are. And I think if, one of the reasons Fox is popular is because of that --

BROKAW: Well, I think you have a bias to the right. So I think that that --

HANNITY: I am the only outspoken conservative here, by the way.

BROKAW: I know. But I do. And I think that Roger, when he put this together, I have known him a long time, he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew there was a big audience out there who wanted to have their points of view reaffirmed on a daily or nightly basis or on a nightly basis. Sure, from time to time, there will be people --

HANNITY: From time to time or pretty right --

BROKAW: You know, bias is the wrong word.

HANNITY: What's the word?

BROKAW: The right word is trying to have a big picture of what is going on over a long period of time. You can take a moment and say, well that was biased reporting.

HANNITY: I have to run.

BROKAW: But maybe what the reporter found out at that time, that's what the interpretation seemed fair to everyone at the moment. And then we find out over time.

Look, I have been doing this for a language time. During the 1960s in the civil rights movement, I was called a communist, I was called a reporter for (INAUDIBLE) because I was covering civil rights, after all.

HANNITY: Interesting. All right. It's always good to see you. And I do love the book.

BROKAW: And Sean, thanks for having me on.

HANNITY: Tom Brokaw. Thank you. Hope you come back again.

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