Linda Vester, the woman who accused Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment, says she’s not filing a lawsuit and she’s not looking for any money from NBC News. In a piece written for the Washington Post, Vester says she is looking to make the issue public because she wants things to change at NBC:
I am not filing a lawsuit; I am not asking NBC or Brokaw for money. I came forward for a simple reason: to let the public know that otherwise good men — men who treat women well or are even their champions — can also commit acts of sexual harassment. I did not feel like confronting Brokaw in private would accomplish my objective of demonstrating to other victims — past, present or future — that it is safe to come forward with their own accounts of harassment in the workplace.
And I spoke out publicly to make the related point to his employer: People in power at NBC News, and all institutions, must take such accusations seriously. Rallying around the star anchor is an understandable instinct, but it is the wrong one. And one high-profile firing is not enough.
I expected a denial from Brokaw, although his vehemence and spitefulness took me aback. He denied the truth and instead attacked my career and my motives. Shaming and blaming a victim has long been the effective strategy when women speak out. It also served to maintain the silence — discouraging other women away from coming forward…
I am not seeking a settlement, but neither will I be silent. I want NBC to stop fighting #MeToo within its own walls. I ask NBC Universal to retain an outside investigator to look into sexual harassment and any coverup of sexual harassment at NBC News.
After the accusations surfaced, Browkaw wrote a letter defending himself in which he attacked Vester’s career and suggested she was trying to garner media attention for herself.
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…
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.
Yesterday, NBC News released the results of its investigation into the work environment at NBC. Not surprisingly, the internal investigation concluded that there is not a “hostile work environment” at the company and that no one in a position of authority was aware of Matt Lauer’s behavior until shortly before he was fired. That conclusion directly contradicts a statement last month by former Today host Ann Curry who claims she informed two executives about Lauer’s behavior after a woman working at the network came to her asking for help.
Other media companies dealing with sexual harassment issues, including CBS News which fired Charlie Rose, have hired outside investigators to come in and write reports about what is going on at the network. Meanwhile at NBC, in the wake of the accusations against Brokaw, one of his producers passed around a letter of support which some of the women in the office felt pressured to sign. There was also a report at Variety that NBC was urging its anchors to report on that letter.
Vester claims that during a visit to her apartment in 1994 Brokaw grabbed her neck and forced her to kiss him after suggesting they have an affair. Brokaw claims he leaned over on is way out the door and gave her a kiss on the cheek. I don’t know which version of the story is accurate but if it’s true that Vester isn’t seeking damages or a settlement, that certainly rules out one alternative motivation for coming forward. I do think Vester is right about one thing. NBC does not seem especially interested in having an impartial investigation of what has gone on at the network for the past 20+ years. An outside investigator would be more likely to get the whole story.