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Nov. 9, 2001)------Our Religion Specialist Carole Mikita turned the cameras on Tom Brokaw once he finished his interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley. Brokaw told Carole this is his fourth interview with President Hinckley. This time, he covered a variety of topics, but focussed on questions about whether the 2002 games will be, or should be, the "Mormon Olympics."
Tom Brokaw,NBC News: "HE IS SO MENTALLY ALERT, AND OBVIOUSLY ARTICULATE AND FEARLESS. YOU CAN ASK HIM ANYTHING."
On national television once again, NBC plans prime time coverage focusing on President Gordon B. Hinckley specifically, and the church in general, as part of its news and sports Olympics coverage.
Tom Brokaw: "HE DEALT WITH IT RIGHT OFF THE BAT. 'THESE ARE NOT GOING TO BE THE MORMON OLYMPICS,' HE SAID. 'THESE ARE GOING TO BE THE SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPICS.'"
Brokaw says President Hinckley is very determined that church leaders and members be seen as good hosts, and not as people in search of converts.
Tom Brokaw: "AND I SAID, 'WELL, WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE WANTS TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE CHURCH?' 'WELL,' HE SAID, 'THEY'LL BE ENCOURAGED TO GO TO THE GALAS AND THEN GO HOME AND FIND THE MISSIONARIES.' SO (HE SMILES)..."
The church, its history, its message, its people, were very much in view earlier this week during NBC planning meetings. Hundreds of Brokaw's colleagues came to town and invited church leaders to one of those gatherings.
They saw a video presentation:
"SO LET'S DISPELL MYTH NUMBER ONE. MORMONS DISCONTINUED THE PRACTICE OF POLYGAMY OVER 100 YEARS AGO."
"MYTH NUMBER TWO: MORMONS ARE A CLOSE KNIT GROUP ONLY INTERESTED IN TAKING CARE OF THEMSELVES."
"MYTH NUMBER THREE: MORMONS ARE NOT CHRISTIAN."
Michael Purdy/Church Public Affairs Dept.: "THEY MADE AN EFFORT TO MAKE SURE THEIR PRODUCERS WOULD HEAR SOME ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CHURCH. AND I THINK WE WELCOMED THAT."
Misconceptions about the church will be one of the areas NBC plans to present. Tom Brokaw says he and his network are up to the job of taking on those questions.
Tom Brokaw: "I LIVE A GOOD PART OF MY LIFE IN THE WEST. SO, I'M CONSTANTLY COMING IN CONTACT NOT ONLY WITH THE CHURCH AS AN INSTITUTION, BUT THE MEMBERS AS WELL. SO I THINK I HAVE A LOT BETTER UNDERSTANDING THAN A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE HAVE."
Understanding, he says, about the church's growth and its influence.
Brokaw says President Hinckley's interview will be used in both an NBC prime time news special and on-going sports coverage before the Olympics start in February.