msnbc | November 03, 2012
>>> my conversation with tom brokaw . we talk about the 180 he has seen polls take on this, the week before an election. i begin by asking tom if this race reminded him of any prior races that he's covered.
>> the 1980 race between jimmy carter and ronald reagan was similar to this in a lot of ways. ronald reagan brought in an entirely new philosophy of governing than the country had become accustomed to. and raised a lot of the themes that governor romney is raising. there are two different cats, reagan and romney. and at the same time, jimmy carter and obama are not exactly alike except philosophically to a large degree that they are. so that election was reminiscent of this one. here's what's changed. it's inescapable now. it's on the air 24/7. on our cable, on their cable, on local access. it's especially on the screen behind me, the computer screen . you can't sign on in the morning to go to your favorite web site without getting some kind of political dialogue. so i think people feel like they are caught in a tsunami of information, not all of it advancing their understanding of how they can best make a decision on behalf of their family and behalf of their country. a lot of it seems to be kind of campaign noise. that's what's different.
>> we have so many polls, tom. they seem to be coming from every which angle, every which organization. how much do you think polling affects the way people will vote?
>> not much. i think it may reassure some people who have made their decisions. but in the polls that we're seeing now, you have to be a much more educated consumer. which ones hold up? i was just looking at some numbers today. a lot of this polling now is auto phone calls. well, you can't really find out what you need to know about the person that you're talking to about what motivates them. the nbc news marist poll is a good poll. it's held up over the years because it's in depth. i watched a lot of polls do 180s. howard dean was going to be the nominee of the democratic party going into the final weekend in iowa. howard dean was not heard from again. governor dean became an also ran very quickly. it seemed like he had a lot of the big mo. i remember eight years ago being with both john kerry and president bush on the final weekend. the polls indicated that kerry, the challenger, was closing fast and was in fact ahead of him. in the final weekend, osama bin laden issued a call to jihad against the united states . it flipped. people decided they want to stay with the national security team that they had in place. and john kerry lost that election. i've done a lot of things in the last year. i went to antarctica which was phenomenal. i must have seen by actual count at least 1 million penguins. i went kayaking. i took a dive into the arctic sea , antarctica sea.
>> what did you see?
>> it was not very long. i was in and out. it was electric shock treatment . i did a tough biking trip in mayorca. my wife and i have been married for 50 years. so we took our family and two other families who had similar celebrations to a wonderful resort in tuscany and had a great italian summer. i spent a lot of time at the olympics doing biggest says, one on world war ii what london went through at that time, and others on individuals. and i did kind of a tongue in cheek essay on why we love everything british more than they love everything american. i mean, we're crazy about their royalty and about their rock and roll and about their fashion. and i got tracy ullman to comment on it. that was worth the visit alone. i do like the flexibility. the reason i left is because i wanted to have more flexibility in my schedule. now, if you look at my calendar people say that doesn't look like a flexible calendar to me. but it's all good stuff. i'm enjoying it a lot. and i can move easily from one place to another. i'm going down right after the election to -- i'm on the board of the mayo clinic . it's a public trustees meeting. it's one of the most enlightening and inspiring occasions that i have four times a year when i meet with the physicians and hear the work that they're doing. and then i'm going immediately from there to do a big benefit in miami for the fund for spinal cord research, something i've been working on for a long, long time. by the end of the month i'm going back out to south dakota to do some fepheasant hunting. i'm doing documentaries in between. i'm a multitasker
>> yes, he is. more of our conversation tomorrow at this time. tom worked in washington during watergate. he shares some lessons from that era. plus he talks about the wild night covering the 2000 bush-gore election and his fears of another potential split vote this time around.