Update: Tom Brokaw has issued a further, more detailed response to earlier reports of sexual harassment allegations from two former NBC employees.
The Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of an internal letter that was distributed to NBC coworkers. In the letter, Brokaw addressed the sexual harassment allegations.
Directly referencing Linda Vester's allegations, he called her story a "drive-by shooting," concocted as an act of vindication against the network. "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," he wrote. Vester left NBC in 1999 and began working for Fox News until 2005, when she became pregnant with her second child.
Of the alleged sexual come-ons at the hotel, he says that Vester was "coy, not frightened" and "filled with office gossip."
Brokaw also questions why Vester didn't reach out to him directly to discuss the incidents. "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."
Brokaw did not address the allegations of sexual harassment from a second, anonymous woman.
Refinery29 has reached out to NBC for comment.
This article was originally published on April 27, 2018.
The harassment allegedly occurred in 1993, when Vester, then 28, was a traveling correspondent. Vester says that on one occasion, Brokaw grabbed her waist and began tickling her while the two were on assignment in Denver. The incident allegedly took place in a conference room with other NBC staffers present. “Nobody acted like anything wrong was happening, but I was humiliated,” she says. Vested explains her awareness of the power dynamic at the moment, saying that “He was the most powerful man at the network, and I was the most junior person, reporting for an entirely different show.”
Later, in 1994, Vester says she received a message from Brokaw asking about her plans for the night, later showing up at her hotel unannounced. Vester says she feared for her safety but allowed him to enter the room. Brokaw then allegedly forcefully attempted to kiss her.
Vester claims a second similar incident occurred when she was stationed in London — Brokaw visited her without an invitation, and attempted to kiss her again.
Another former NBC employee told the Washington Post that Brokaw allegedly groped her breasts in the 1990s. He then invited her to a meeting in his office, but she understood Brokaw's subtext to be a sexual advance, and declined the invitation.
Brokaw has denied the stories of both women, writing 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. 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 also said that the alleged incident regarding the unnamed woman did not take place.
Refinery29 has reached out to NBC for a statement.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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