Tom Brokaw is ‘angry’ about the accusations that he sexually harassed women

Late Show with David Letterman

Last Thursday, the Washington Post published a bombshell story about the rotten state of NBC News. The management at NBC News had been actively looking the other way and silencing women accusing their main male anchors of harassment, abuse and impropriety. Matt Lauer was fired when one woman told her story to executives last year, but literally everyone knew Lauer was a massive douchebag for years. Ann Curry even reported him in 2012, and then she was the one who got fired. WaPo also spoke to two women who said that Tom Brokaw harassed them in the 1990s. One woman, Linda Vester, went on the record with WaPo and Variety about how Brokaw assaulted her in a hotel room.

All of it just felt… disappointing. Much like my disappointment with Charlie Rose, I genuinely thought Brokaw was one of the good guys. But I believe Linda Vesper, just like I believe the woman who didn’t want her name published (who said Brokaw harassed her and suggested that she could get a promotion if she came to his office). The day after WaPo published their article, Brokaw emailed colleagues at NBC News, and his email was leaked. Here’s part of it (you can read the full piece here):

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.

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.

[From THR]

Do I think it’s possible that Linda Vesper is lying? I mean, sure. It’s possible that people lie. But what I keep thinking about is WHY lie? Why would someone, out of the blue, lie about Tom Brokaw of all people? This is the equivalent of “oh she’s just doing it to get famous” – but that argument has fallen flat repeatedly in the era of #MeToo – there were so many women who were famous, who had platforms, who likely would have been believed years ago, and they didn’t speak out because they were traumatized or afraid they would ruin their careers or they were intimidated by a power structure which was not built for them? So why would Linda Vesper lie? Why would the second woman lie?

Meanwhile, the women of NBC News have launched a defense of Brokaw. Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, Maria Shriver and 60 other NBC-employed women all signed an open letter saying that while they “fully endorse the conversation around abuse of power in the workplace,” they all feel that Brokaw is a “a man of tremendous decency and integrity” who treated all of them with “fairness and respect.” I’m a little bit disappointed that Maddow didn’t sit this one out and wait to see, you know? While I’m sure Brokaw has treated those 64 women with respect, that doesn’t negate the idea that he sexually harassed several other women, you know?

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42 Responses to “Tom Brokaw is ‘angry’ about the accusations that he sexually harassed women”

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  1. JosieH says:

    Between defending Tom Brokaw and kissing Joy Reid’s homophobic rear end, Rachel Maddow has really lost the plot lately.

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      Yeah, disappointed that Mika (who has spent the last two years attacking HRC for Bill’s sexual exploits and Democrats in general for supporting Bill) is really a hypocrite. She was low-key defending Mark Hepaerin going on about due process. Now fully coming out in defense. Yeah Maddow is surprising. I wasn’t surprised she defended Reid because they are friends.

    • Darla says:

      Some of my gay friends are staunchly in Reid’s corner. They have said to me that their whole lives are about changing hearts, and that since most people were homophobic at some point, tearing apart people who changed their hearts, it’s counter-productive. Changing hearts and minds is what they WANT. They feel she is a good ally today, and that’s what matters.

      For me, I am straight and IMO I have no standing to forgive, or not forgive her.

      • JosieH says:

        Changed her heart? She still refuses to take responsibility for the things she said. She basically said, “I didn’t write that stuff, but sorry anyway.”

  2. Onerous says:

    I was even more disappointed in the women who signed their names to that letter than I was with the alleged behavior of Tom Brokaw.

    I mean, how far have we really come if all of these smart women can be so dismissive by saying, “Well, he didn’t do this to me, so he must not have done it!” It’s gross and dismissive and doesn’t even make logical sense since we know that even monsters like Harvey Weinstein weren’t abusing every woman they came into contact with.

    • Carrie1 says:

      They’re not smart women tho. Integrity is part of intelligence in my book and these women collectively lack integrity.

      Someone has screen captures of a tweet from Andrea Mitchell talking out of both sides of her mouth. Maria married Arnold and so on with her, refusing to turn off blinding white lights at night at her property despite neighbours pleas. Maddox is not news, she delivers opinionated agenda and matches Anderson Cooper now in hyperbole. Who else? Oh yeah… Mika…who posed suggestively on a desktop… none of these women are smart.

      The rest of the women signing a letter are simply following the herd. Sparing themselves at expense of others harmed while working in a misogynistic workplace.

      • Crystal Lake says:

        So posing suggestively means one lacks integrity? That’s a hard-line stance to take, and anti-feminist. I am not a fan of Mika and oppose her comments, btw.

      • Carrie1 says:

        Crystal Lake -in a professional set, on a desk, when your profession is journalism and we’ve all lost too much good journalism and good journalists, what Mika did was unprofessional and disrespectful to everyone in her field who is fighting to get or keep their job. And we all suffer when we don’t get quality news. Which is how people like Trump get elected. Things are too serious in the world for someone like Mika to have a platform on tv which would better serve everyone if it was filled by a professional informed skilled journalist.

    • Betsy says:

      It is kind of gross and dismissive; on the other hand not everyone reacts perfectly to when a trusted colleague is accused. I’m not saying the accusations have no merit because he didn’t treat these other women the same way, just that it’s really a mind cluck when your worldview is knocked off kilter like that about a friend.

      Separately, Brokaw sounds like an epic jerk in his email. Holy crap, dude.

  3. Nicole says:

    That letter, much like the one Lena spearheaded, is so stupid and hurtful. Women need to stop with the false equivalencies and let the investigation run. Disappointed in Maddow for this. Smh.

  4. Zapp Brannigan says:

    His leaked email hits all the craptastic talking points don’t they.

    “I am greatly accomplished, she is a failure that owes her meagre success to moi, and my largesse as I opened doors for her to saunter on through. Did I mention that she failed and I am successful, but really let me tell you again how great I am!”

    “She was coy, not frightened, filled with office gossip, including a recent rumor of an affair” this line in particular really rankles. Why not just say she wanted it and was not innocent.

    • deets says:

      He’s being a dramatic cry baby because hes not the Casanova he thought.
      Instead of thinking, oh shit, I made these women really uncomfortable. How did I miss that?
      He instead went full on, ‘lying bitches, I’m famous!’ Wtf, dude. Your answer basically tells me you are a POS.

    • The Other Katherine says:

      …yeah. Without the email, I would have been, like, “well, he probably did something inappropriate, but the stuff he’s accused of is not extreme and men had less context for understanding the destructive awfulness of this kind of sexual harassment back then, plus there don’t seem to be recent accusations, let’s wait to see if additional info comes to light.” But then he had to go and write this melodramatic email full of purple prose that is, basically, “lying worthless b*tches are destroying the privilege and deference I expected to be granted in my golden years!!111!” Not helping yourself, my dude. Knowing that you’re just as arrogant and self-regarding as you always came across on TV makes it seem more likely that you harassed these women, not less.

  5. Maya says:

    What is with women not getting that just because they weren’t raped/assaulted by the mentioned men, it doesn’t mean that others weren’t…..

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      People pride themselves on being great judges of character and believe that they could not be fooled by a “bad” person, when confronted with reality, that predators are con artists who charm everyone in their community, the reflex is denial that the accused is not like that and the accuser “misunderstood” or got things wrong.

    • Darla says:

      It’s very weird. I wouldn’t vouch for anyone unless I was there. I wasn’t there? Then I don’t know. Zip it.

      • Anastasia says:

        This is where I am, 100%.

      • Crystal Lake says:

        I’ve had to come to terms with the fact I’ve defended, rationalized, and stood up for bad behaviour and abuse from men I love because I didn’t want to accept they weren’t the same to me than they were to others in their lives. I struggle with this, because my excuses for them has hurt and harmed others, and I commit to not perpetuating this bullsh*t. If I don’t know for sure, I will keep my mouth shut and listen. It’s not that hard.

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      Holy crap, THIS all day, every day. If I had a nickel for all times the “nice guy, devoted to his wife” made a move on me I would be rolling in money. Just because a man doesn’t hit on you doesn’t mean he isn’t hitting on someone else.

      Also, back in the day my office had a serial predator who sexually harassed women in the office. His wife worked three floors up in a related department. The man was a jerk to EVERYBODY……except me. He was super polite and almost subservient to me. I have no idea why.

      So, using the “logic” of the Brokaw supporters, the serial predator was totally a good guy because he was always respectful of ME.

      Blech. These women need to be very quiet right now because “accessory to a crime after the fact” is not a good look for anyone.

      I’ll admit I read Brokaw’s email and even though a few things popped up as red flags I was hoping I was overreacting. It was his last part about kissing her that blew his defense wide open. If the visit was platonic between colleagues, why go in for a kiss of any kind?

      This isn’t the last we’ve heard about his behavior. The dam has a hole in it and it’s going to get bigger.

  6. Merritt says:

    The leaked email makes me believe he did harass Vester. Instead of just saying he would never do what he was accused of, he had to insert a bunch of attacks and make sure you know that he is famous and she is not.

    • Div says:

      Yep. The whole bit with the “coy” thing made me think he was guilty as hell.

      • Let It Be says:

        He even borrows from Dustin Hoffman’s lame “Not Who I Am.” I don’t see anything in the email that suggests sincerity of innocence. He’s most worried about his legacy. Wonder what Jane Pauley knows, and if she has the courage to be candid about what possibly went down during her long tenure with him.

  7. Agenbiter says:

    Anyone know if Ann Curry signed the letter or not?

  8. Ann says:

    Always disappointed how deeply it seems to be ingrained into womento jump to the defense of men when the reverse so rarely happens.

    Where were the 60 men vouching for the credibility of Cosby’s accusers? Where were the men saying that the women accusing LCK weren’t lying, and so on.

    • Crystal Lake says:

      Yeah, I’ve done this and I know it’s done damage. Men can make a bed and lie in it, and I’m not their housekeeper.

  9. BitingPanda says:

    I probably won’t articulate this as eloquently as the subject deserves, but my thoughts on the 60+ women who are supporting Tom means a little something to me, enough to give me pause.

    Is it possible he treated all of these women with respect AND still did what he is accused of? Absolutely. However, for every man who has been exposed there are so many women who come forward to say, “YES! I believe it to be true, even though it didn’t happen to me because of the stories I heard.”

    I am curious, is there someone who has had this much support from women after they have been exposed?

    • deets says:

      Pretty sure the senator who honked that poor woman’s boots and photographed (Franken?) had almost the same outcry and response to his accusations.

      When a man who passes as ‘decent’ gets dinged people freak out because they feel ‘no one is safe’. Really it’s just an indication of how insidious the toxic attitude of entitlement to women’s bodies is, where even the good ones have some serious baggage.

    • Laura says:

      It is hard hard to get other female support in the workplace.I have been openly harassed in the past and have seen other females openly harassed in front of other women and those same women will turn around and say it was the harassed woman’s imagination and misinterpretation.I have the feeling that until women truly have each others backs in the workplace this crap will continue.Yeah,now it is in the spotlight due to high profile cases but until women start standing up for other women,the #me too movement will die out.

  10. Jess says:

    Very disappointed in the women who signed the letter. I believe the women because there is no upside to these accusations besides getting the truth out. Brokaw’s response also reeks of entitled male. And his statement from earlier in the Me Too era was a bit off.

  11. Natalie S. says:

    That is a terrible email. It’s whiny and condescending. And Brokaw is super into his own image.

  12. Bashful says:

    I strolled over to Wikipedia to learn more about Linda Vester. She’s had a fantastic life and a great career. Now she’s elbow deep in philanthropy. Brokaw trying to to paint this as sour grapes falls flat to me.

    I too am disappointed in the “he never did it to me” email. So now we have to have dozens of women step forward for “us” to believe it happened?

    I believe Vester and the anonymous woman.

  13. Sparkly says:

    That email is gross. I’m glad someone leaked it. It’s certainly interesting to see his take. It doesn’t do him any favors.

  14. Kate says:

    “As I got up to leave I may have leaned over for A PERFUNCTORY GOODNIGHT KISS”

    Uhhhhm that’s not…a thing…with coworkers? Nice attempt to make that sound as innocent as offering a high five though. Oh, it was by the door too? Oh well obvi that totally non-sexual then. Hey, quick question – so why did you go to her apartment/hotel room so late at night? Interested to know if you’ve ever done the same thing with a male colleague…

    Also his statements that she was “not frightened” and that she didn’t clench her neck. How you know, Tom? Look, I get that for many of these men who don’t remember their assaults as being unwanted (b/c in their heads all the womenz want it) they feel angry and defensive. I think a big point of me too is trying to bring awareness to all men that they should stop f-ing assuming they know what women are thinking.

    • deets says:

      Lol, right? Like my perfunctory good morning kiss for my Uber driver … wait no my perfunctory kiss goodbye to my gyno… wait no it’s never appropriate!

      Pro tip Tom, if you’d feel strange putting it as a requirement on a job fact sheet, then it’s not part of the job, not is it professional behaviour.

    • Millie says:

      Seriously. I wonder how many of the women who signed that open letter are going to say a late-night kiss on the cheek from Tom Brokaw is just normal. All of their male colleagues are doing it?

  15. homeslice says:

    Disappointed in Rachel. Maria and Mika don’t surprise me one bit.

  16. starkiller says:

    Brokaw’s statement is gross. His belittling of her career proves…what, exactly?

    Beyond disappointed in Maddow for signing that letter. I really expected better of her.

  17. Bliss 51 says:

    Did anyone read Linda Vester’s account? She mentions witnesses.

  18. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    So, by his story, in what innocent context does one declare oneself Catholic and that induces the other person to leave?

    (The “perfunctory kiss goodnight” seems odd too, but I’ll grant that it was a different time. I still don’t feel comfortable when a work colleague tries to hug me instead of shake hands but I get it’s the culture of the time.)