Within two days of sexual misconduct allegations being leveled against longtime NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw last week, a letter signed by some 65 women surfaced and voiced support for the newsman. The number of women who signed the letter eventually swelled to 115 and included many of Brokaw’s NBC colleagues over the years, some of whom are very well known, but now The New York Post is reporting that women inside the network are saying they felt pressured to sign the letter.
“We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw. We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers,” one anonymous NBC insider told the Post. “The letter was being handed around the office and the unspoken threat was that if your name was not on it, there would be some repercussion down the road. Execs are watching to see who signed and who didn’t. This was all about coming out in force to protect NBC’s golden boy; the network’s reputation is tied to Brokaw.”
Linda Vester, a former NBC News reporter, has said Brokaw forcibly tried to kiss her back in the 1990s when she was a new correspondent at the network, groped her and pressured her to have an affair with him. Another unnamed woman also accused Brokaw of sexual misconduct in the 1990s. Brokaw, in a scathing letter, vehemently denied the accusations, likening the claims to a “drive-by shooting” and saying he helped Vester land a job at Fox News. Vester’s attorney has said, “she will have more to say very soon” on the issue and called on the network to hire an independent investigator to look into the claims.
Another NBC employee mused about the effect the letter might have on other women who are considering airing accusations against powerful men. “When you have over 100 women like Andrea Mitchell signing a letter of support without knowing the facts, it’s pretty scary,” the employee said. “The letter will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward.”
A spokesperson for NBC denied anyone at the networks was behind the letter or a campaign to force people to sign it. Indeed, it was started by Liz Boyer, a Goldman Sachs executive who has worked on several of Brokaw’s side projects. “The letter is a purely grass-roots effort, led by women outside of the company who are motivated by their own support for Tom Brokaw,” the representative for NBC said. “Management has played absolutely no role whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly issued a warning to the women publicly defending Brokaw. “I just came from Fox, where we just went through this,” Kelly told her viewers on Monday’s show. Turning her attention to Brokaw’s defenders, she cautioned, “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.” Watch Kelly’s remarks below.
Read the full story at The New York Post.