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'He grabbed me behind my neck and tried to force me to kiss him': Legendary anchor Tom Brokaw is accused of sexual harassment by NBC war correspondent and another female staffer
Megyn Kelly has warned the more than 60 current and former female NBC News staffers who are defending Tom Brokaw that 'you don't know what you don't know'.
Kelly was referring to Rachel Maddow, Maria Shriver, Andrea Mitchell, Mika Brzezinski, among others, who have signed a group letter supporting the veteran TV anchor in the wake of recent sexual misconduct allegations.
She made the remark on Monday during Megyn Kelly Today when NBC News' national correspondent Kate Snow brought up the letter.
'It's basically a character reference,' Kelly said. 'And they're saying, "For what it's worth, my experience with him has always been honorable, and he's always treated me well."'
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Megyn Kelly has warned the more than 60 current and former female NBC News staffers who are defending Tom Brokaw that 'you don't know what you don't know'
While Kelly said Brokaw has been good to her, she didn't rule out that he may have been a sexual harasser. The two are pictured above during State of the Union coverage in January
'And I understand that because when you love the person being under attack, you want to say, "This has been my experience,"' she added.
The letter defending Brokaw was released on Friday in response to claims that he made unwanted advances on two women in the 1990s, which the newsman has denied.
'We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity,' said the letter.
'Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers,' the letter said.
During the conversation with Snow, Kelly also brought up her experience at Fox News with the network's late CEO Roger Ailes.
Kelly, who accused Ailes of sexual harassment, said: 'I will say that the same thing did happen at Fox.'
She was referring to those individuals who defended Ailes after he was forced to resign in July 2016.
Rachel Maddow (left) and Maria Shriver (right) are among the female NBC News employees who signed the letter supporting Brokaw in the face of claims he made unwanted advances
NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker (left) also signed. Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski was apparently not invited to sign, but tweeted 'Add me to the list'
As professional women, we fully endorse the conversation around abuse of power in the workplace. In the context of that conversation, we would like to share our perspectives on working with Tom Brokaw.
We are current and former colleagues of Tom's, who have worked with him over a period spanning four decades. We are producers, correspondents, anchors, directors, executives, researchers, personal assistants, editors and technical staff.
Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers. As we have advanced across industries — news, publishing, law, business and government — Tom has been a valued source of counsel and support. We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity.
Anne Binford Allen
Christine Colvin Casper
Mary Laurence Flynn
Erika Beck Grothues
Susan Morris Holey
Audrey Beles Kolina
Mary Alice O'Rourke
Nancy Doyle Palmer
Elizabeth Vaughan Romaine
Clare Duffy Swift
Dee Dee Thomas
'And the truth is, you don't know what you don't know. And that's not in any way to impugn Tom, who I love and who's been so good to me. Just saying, you don't know what you don't know,' said Kelly during the show.
Kelly went on to say that she feels like letters of support 'can be dicey'.
Morning Joe co-host Brzezinski was apparently not invited to sign the letter, but tweeted 'add me to the list' once she learned of the document.
On Friday, the head of NBC News acknowledged the allegations against former nightly news anchor Brokaw, calling the claims 'very serious'.
'As you have all seen now in reports from last night, there are allegations against Tom Brokaw, made by a former NBC News journalist, which Tom emphatically denies,' NBC News Chairman Andy Lack wrote in a staff memo on Friday obtained by Deadline Hollywood.
Two women have accused Brokaw of making unwanted advances in the 1990s.
'As we've shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate,' Lack said.
Despite that assurance, NBC won't be launching a full investigation into the claims, a company source told PageSix.
'She's given her side, and he's responded. They don't feel there's anything left to investigate in the case,' the source said. 'We may make further inquiries if more information emerges.'
NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell also signed the open letter
Lack's memo also said that findings in an internal NBC probe into Matt Lauer could be ready as soon as next week.
It came as Sacred Heart University President John Petillo said that Brokaw had withdrawn from a planned commencement speech on May 13.
'Mr. Brokaw did not want to distract from the intended and most important focus of the day — our graduating students and their families,' Petillo said in a memo to the community.
Earlier on Friday, Brokaw denied the allegations made by former NBC employee Linda Vester in a scathing email that was sent to the legendary anchor's co-workers and friends on Friday.
'It is 4:00 am on the first day of my new life as an accused predator in the universe of American journalism,' writes Brokaw.
'I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.'
Brokaw went on to write about the incredible hurt this accusation caused him, as well as the hate he has for his accuser.
Mad: 'I deeply resent the pain and anger she inflicted on my wife, daughters and granddaughters,' said Brokaw (above with his wife Meredith)
'I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life,' noted Brokaw.
'Instead I am facing a long list of grievances from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom.'
He continued: 'She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News.'
Brokaw then tried to explain what happened between himself and Vester on the night in question, while also criticizing how the press handled the claims.
'Linda Vester was given the run of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission (you read that right), that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in general was given a free hand to try to destroy all that I have achieved with my family, my NBC career, my writing and my citizenship,' stated Brokaw.
'My family and friends are stunned and supportive. My NBC colleagues are bewildered that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth was suddenly the keeper of the flame of journalistic integrity.'
Vester - a war correspondent for the network in the 1990s, who today runs a website for mothers - came forward to accuse the legendary newsman who hosted NBC Nightly News for 22 years.
She told The Washington Post and Variety magazine that Brokaw, 26 years her elder, forcibly tried to kiss her twice in 1994 and 1995, while he was the network's star anchor.
Brokaw says only that he met Vester twice, 'both at her request' because she wanted career advice.
Linda Vester (above) has accused Brokaw of assault
'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,' he said in a statement.
Another woman, a 24-year-old production assistant at the time, has also accused Brokaw of sexual harassment dating back to the same period, allegations he also denied.
US television networks have been rocked by a series of accusations as the United States grapples with the cultural shift of the #MeToo movement.
NBC sacked Matt Lauer, the host of its flagship Today program last November. CBS News fired Charlie Rose a few days earlier and Fox News dropped Bill O'Reilly in 2017.
Lauer was the biggest media scalp so far in the US watershed on sexual misconduct, and criticism has mounted against NBC for allegedly not doing enough to counter what some have called a culture of harassment.
'I am speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division,' Vester told the Post.
NBC will now start looking into Brokaw's behavior just as the investigation into Lauer nears completion.
Lack addressed both of those investigations in an internal memo sent on Friday.
'As you have all seen now in reports from last night, there are allegations against Tom Brokaw, made by a former NBC News journalist, which Tom emphatically denies. As we've shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate,' wrote Lack.
'The same report included claims against Matt Lauer. As you know, since the week we terminated Matt's employment, NBC Universal has been conducting a review, led by general counsel Kim Harris -who has extensive experience in conducting reviews of this kind- with a team of legal and HR leaders. Kim has advised us that the review is nearing its conclusion, and we will have findings and further steps to share with you as soon as next week.'
Lack then closed out the memo by stating: 'Once again, our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality--there can be no exception.'
It is 4:00 am on the first day of my new life as an accused predator in the universe of American journalism. I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.
I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life.
Tom Brokaw and wife Meredith in 2016
Instead I am facing a long list of grievances from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom. She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News.
Linda Vester was given the run of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission (you read that right), that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in general was given a free hand to try to destroy all that I have achieved with my family, my NBC career, my writing and my citizenship.
My family and friends are stunned and supportive. My NBC colleagues are bewildered that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth was suddenly the keeper of the flame of journalistic integrity.
Her big charge: that on two occasions more than 20 years ago I made inappropriate and uninvited appearances in her apartment and in a hotel room. As an eager beginner, Vester, like others in that category, was eager for advice and camaraderie with senior colleagues. She often sought me out for informal meetings, including the one she describes in her New York hotel room. I should not have gone but I emphatically did not verbally and physically attack her and suggest an affair in language right out of pulp fiction.
She was coy, not frightened, filled with office gossip including a recent rumor of an affair. As that discussion advanced she often reminded me she was a Catholic and that she was uncomfortable with my presence. So I left, 23 years later to be stunned by her melodramatic description of the meeting. A year or so later, as I passed through London after covering end of WWII ceremonies in Moscow, I saw her in the office. chatted and agreed to a drink later. (If NY was so traumatic, why a reunion?) She knew a bar but by that late hour it was closed so she suggested her nearby apartment (not, “Well, no where to go. See you tomorrow).
Again, her hospitality was straight forward with lots of pride in her reporting in the Congo and more questions about NY opportunities.
As I remember, she was at one end of a sofa, I was at the other. It was late and I had been up for 24 hours. As I got up to leave I may have leaned over for a perfunctory goodnight kiss but my memory is that it happened at the door – on the cheek. No clenching her neck. That move she so vividly describes is NOT WHO I AM. Not in high school, college or thereafter.
She came to NY and had mixed success on the overnight news. As I remember her try out on TODAY did not go well. Her contract was not renewed.
Here is a part of her story she somehow left out. I think I saw her in the hallways and asked how it was going. She was interested in cable start up and I said I didn’t think that was going anywhere. What about Fox, which was just building up? She was interested and followed me to my office where, while she listened in, I called Roger Ailes. He said, “send her over.”
She got the job. I never heard from her or saw her again. I was aware that she became a big fan of Ailes, often praising his considerable broadcasting instincts in public. But when he got in trouble on sexual matters, not a peep from this woman who now describes her self as the keeper of the flame for Me:Too.
I am not a perfect person. I’ve made mistakes, personally and professionally. But as I write this at dawn on the morning after a drive by shooting by Vester, the Washington Post and Variety, I am stunned by the free ride given a woman with a grudge against NBC News, no distinctive credentials or issue passions while at FOX.
As a private citizen who married a wealthy man she has been active in social causes but she came to Me:Too late, portraying herself as a den mother. In the intervening years since we met on those two occasions, she had no reason to worry I could affect her career.
Some of her relatives by marriage are very close friends. She couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “I’d like to talk. I have issues from those two meetings 20 years ago?” Instead she became a character assassin. Strip away all of the hyperbole and what has she achieved? What was her goal? Hard to believe it wasn’t much more Look At Me than Me:Too.
I deeply resent the pain and anger she inflicted on my wife, daughters and granddaughters - all women of considerable success and passion about women’s rights which they personify in their daily lives and professions. We’ll go on as a family that pursues social justice in medical emergency rooms, corporate offices, social therapy, African women’s empowerment and journalism. And no one woman’s assault can take that away.
I am proud of who I am as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen. Vester, the Washington Post and Variety cannot diminish that. But in this one woman piece of sensational claims they are trying.
NBC's Tom Brokaw has become the latest media personality to be accused of sexually misconduct.
Former NBC war correspondent, Linda Vester, told The Washington Post that Brokaw made unwanted advances toward her in the 1990s.
One of those advances, she claims, was a forcible kiss. Vester said she was 28 at the time of the alleged incidents.
Vester alleged that Brokaw, now 78, invited her for a drink when she was in New York on assignment in 1994.
NBC's Tom Brokaw (pictured on April 6) has become the latest media personality to be accused of sexually misconduct
Former NBC correspondent, Linda Vester (left), has claimed that Brokaw (right) made unwanted advances toward her in the 1990s. One of those advances, she claims, was a forcible kiss. Vester said she was in her 20s at the time of the alleged incidents
She reportedly responded to him by saying that she only drinks milk and cookies.
'It was the only thing I could think of at the time, hoping the reference to milk and cookies would make him realize I was 30 years his junior and not interested,' she told the Post.
Vester claimed that Brokaw called her and told her that he was coming over because he was looking for 'an affair of more than passing affection'.
She alleged that he tried to give her a 'real kiss' while sitting on the hotel room's sofa. When she resisted, he allegedly left the room.
Vester also claimed that he made a second advance toward her a year later in London, where she rejected him once again.
Brokaw denied the allegations in a statement released to the Post by NBC.
Vester (pictured) also claimed that he made a second advance toward her a year later in London, where she rejected him once again
Brokaw denied the allegations in a statement released to the Post by NBC, saying that his meetings with Vester 'were brief, cordial and appropriate'. He's pictured with Katie Couric in June 2017
'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 said.
'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's lawyer, Ari Wilkenfeld, told Variety that his client chose to speak out about the allegations because she believes her story sheds light on the culture at NBC News.
According to Vester, after Today co-host Matt Lauer was fired over sexual misconduct claims, NBC should have brought in an outside firm to investigate the company.
NBC did launch an internal review of its practices, but Vester said other steps were necessary to fix NBC's culture.
'What Linda is doing, like others before her have done, is to give her truthful account in the hope that other women will not have to endure what she did,' says Wilkenfeld, who also represented one of the victims from the Lauer case.
NBC's Hoda Kotb replaced Lauer and joined Savannah Guthrie as the co-host of Today, a move Brokaw called 'historic and so deserved'.
'savannah and hoda - historic and so deserved. one more step in what i believe will the hallmark of the 21 century. women hv full parity,' Brokaw tweeted at the time.
Another woman, who worked as a production assistant in the 1990s when she was 24, claims that Brokaw put her 'hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, 'How is your job search going?'
Then he allegedly said: 'Why don't you come into my office after the show and let's talk about it.'
She told the Post that she refused to go to his office, and never reported the allegations.
Brokaw's began his career at the Peacock Network in 1966. He left Nightly News in December 2004 and stayed on with the company as a special correspondent.
He later served as interim host of Meet the Press after Tim Russert's death in 2008.