Two former NBC News employees have accused longtime network anchor Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment in new interviews.
Linda Vester claimed to Variety in an article published on Thursday, April 26, that the veteran journalist, 78, made unwanted advances toward her back in the 1990s. Two of Vester’s friends corroborated her story with the magazine, and the 52-year-old also provided contemporaneous journal entries.
Brokaw, who retired in 2004, denied Vester’s allegations in a statement. “I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC,” he told Variety via a spokesperson for NBC News. “The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other.”
Vester was hired by the network in September 1989 as a researcher before being promoted to a field producer and later a full-time correspondent for Weekend Today. She claimed Brokaw was first inappropriate with her when she covered Pope John Paul’s trip to Denver in August 1993 at the age of 28.
“We were in the Denver bureau, and there was a conference room. I’m standing there, and Tom Brokaw enters through the door and grabs me from behind and proceeds to tickle me up and down my waist,” she alleged. “I jumped a foot and I looked at a guy who was the senior editor of Nightly [News] and his jaw was hanging open. Nobody acted like anything wrong was happening, but I was humiliated. I didn’t know Brokaw other than to say hello in the hall. He was the most powerful man at the network, and I was the most junior person, reporting for an entirely different show. It was really out of the blue.”
Vester then described another alleged incident that occurred in New York City five months later. She claimed that the newsman showed up at her hotel room, “grabbed me behind my neck and tried to force me to kiss him.” The Ohio native said she told Brokaw that she was not interested, but he allegedly proceeded to attempt to kiss her once more before leaving.
Vester claimed that Brokaw invited himself over a second time in May 1995 when she was living in London, where he was also working at the time. “I can’t believe this is happening again,” she recalled thinking. She alleged that he once again tried to kiss her, but she broke away and told him to leave.
Vester left NBC News in 1999 for Fox News, where she worked until 2006.
A second woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed to The Washington Post that Brokaw beckoned her into an enclave at an NBC office when she was a 24-year-old production assistant in the ‘90s. “He put my hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, ‘How is your job search going?’ ” she claimed, adding that he then allegedly invited her to his office but she declined.
The news comes five months after NBC News fired Matt Lauer in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. The former Today show anchor, 60, apologized in November, saying in a statement to Us that he felt “embarrassed and ashamed” even though “some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized.” He spoke out again on Thursday, telling the Post that he has “remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment.”
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