Former NBC war correspondent Linda Vester has written a column for The Washington Post to explain explicitly the reasons why she decided to come forward with disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct against longtime NBC anchor Tom Brokaw.
“I’m 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,” wrote Vester.
In response to Vester’s accusations, Brokaw vehemently denied any allegations of groping and harassment, dismissed Vester’s career as unsuccessful, suggested she had a reputation as a liar and that her allegations were part of her “failed … pursuit of stardom.” Vester, he added for good measure, “was coy, not frightened,” when he stopped by her hotel room during an encounter in which Vester said a married Brokaw took advantage of his position of power over her by inviting himself over, suggesting an affair, and attempting to kiss her.
In her column, Vester noted that “shaming and blaming a victim” is a historic tactic to silence women and discourage others from speaking out about sexual misconduct. And the news that more than 60 women signed a letter in Brokaw’s defense, she said, does not have any relevance to whether or not Brokaw harassed her. She recalled that the late Roger Ailes, who was pushed out of Fox News after facing allegations of sexual harassment from at least 20 women had always treated her with fairness and respect. But she didn’t defend him even as other Fox contributors rushed to denounce the allegations against him as false, because she understood that him not having abused her did not mean he hadn’t abused others.
The fact that a number of women at NBC allegedly felt pressured by the news organization into signing the letter, and that the network also reportedly required its journalists to mention the petition of support in articles covering Brokaw’s alleged harassment, paint a stark vision of what women can expect from their institutions if they dare to speak up about harassment, Vester added. Such actions, she said, send the message “to other victims that they wouldn’t be believed and would be better off staying silent.” Ending that trend of institutional victim-blaming, she concluded, was part of why she felt it important to speak up and join the #MeToo movement in the first place.
On Thursday, Vester appeared on Good Morning America and talked further with George Stephanopoulos about her decision to speak out and Brokaw’s response. “I expected a denial,” she said. “That’s what harassers do.” Watch the full interview below.