Tom Brokaw, a 78-year-old longtime journalist at NBC, has denied the sexual misconduct charges made against him by a former colleague earlier this week in an emotional e-mail obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. Linda Vester, a former NBC News and Fox News correspondent, accused Brokaw of going to her hotel room in the mid-1990s to propose an affair and forcibly try to kiss her by grabbing her neck. In another instance, he tried to kiss her again at her apartment in London. She said she has “suffered years of humiliation and isolation” as a result. Brokaw compared the allegations to “a drive-by shooting.”
In the e-mail, Brokaw concedes that he “may have leaned over for a perfunctory good night kiss” on the cheek while in London, and also admits that he did visit her in her hotel room in New York. “I should not have gone [to the hotel room] but I emphatically did not verbally and physically attack her and suggest an affair in language right out of pulp fiction,” he wrote.
“I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life,” he continued.
“She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than 20 years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News,” he wrote. Brokaw allegedly called then-CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes on her behalf.
“She couldn’t pick up the phone and say, ‘I’d like to talk. I have issues from those two meetings 20 years ago?’” Brokaw wrote. “Instead she became a character assassin. Strip away all 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.”
Vester says that she came forward when and how she did partly due to the way in which NBC has been dealing with other sexual misconduct investigations at the company. NBC directed in-house counsel to investigate the claims of sexual harassment made against Matt Later last year instead of hiring outside investigators to look into it.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that it had spoken to 12 current or former NBC employees who said they were sexually harassed at the network, but did not report it to anyone.
After Brokaw’s e-mail was made public, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack wrote a memo to colleagues, providing an update on Lauer’s investigation and the network’s in-person workplace training sessions.