Former NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw Is Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Rachel Martin talks to Sarah Eillison, a reporter with The Washington Post, who wrote about the network’s response. Former NBC correspondent Linda Vester made the allegations against Brokaw.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

NBC News is once again being forced to reckon with allegations of sexual harassment. Former “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw is being accused of groping and trying to forcibly kiss a former colleague, a woman named Linda Vester. She was a reporter with NBC back in the 1990s. The network has already faced a high-profile sexual harassment case when it had to fire Matt Lauer when he was accused of inappropriate behavior.

Sarah Ellison is a reporter with The Washington Post. She wrote about the network’s response in this morning’s paper, and she joins us now. Sarah, thanks for being here.

SARAH ELLISON: Thank you.

MARTIN: Your article notes that Linda Vester, along with another anonymous accuser, have put out these allegations about Brokaw. What more can you tell us about what they say happened?

ELLISON: Well. Linda Vester was a correspondent for NBC News back in the ’90s. And she told me about two separate incidents with Tom Brokaw where he was sending her internal computer messages to sort of suggest a drink. She came over – he came over to her hotel room. They sat on the couch together. They had a conversation where she asked him what he wanted from her, and he said an affair of more than passing affection. And then when she was trying to explain that there was another sexual harassment case that had just happened at NBC, that – to try to signal that she wasn’t interested. He put his finger on her lips, and he said, this is our compact. And then he put his hand behind her head and tried to kiss her. And there was another incident in London that was somewhat similar.

The second woman just spoke about how Brokaw was in the hallway and pulled her in close to him, put her hands inside his jacket. She had just come in from being outside. He commented on how cold her hands were. He asked her how her job search inside of NBC was going because she was trying to find a researcher job at NBC. She had been a production assistant. And then he invited her to come to his office later and talk about it. I think that – I mean, she felt that that was an invitation not just to talk about the job. Both of these allegations, which Brokaw denies – he said that he met with Linda Bestor twice and it was appropriate.

MARTIN: So he doesn’t admit to doing anything wrong?

ELLISON: He doesn’t admit to doing anything wrong. That’s right.

MARTIN: This is obviously, as we mentioned, a case coming after the Matt Lauer case, which was so huge, brought the network a lot of negative attention. What do you think this latest revelation reveals about how NBC is grappling with the issue of sexual abuse and harassment on a broader basis?

ELLISON: Well, NBC launched an internal investigation the day Matt Lauer was fired. They definitely have taken real steps to try to make people feel more comfortable to come forward and talk about these kinds of allegations. My reporting with about 35 people current and former at NBC indicates there’s a lot of skepticism about their ability to really do that effectively.

MARTIN: Sarah Ellison. She is a reporter with The Washington Post, her reporting this morning about allegations of sexual harassment against Tom Brokaw of NBC News. Sarah, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

ELLISON: Thank you.

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