It looks like Charlie Rose can add another name to the guest list for his #MeToo atonement series. 78-year-old Tom Brokaw, former anchor of NBC Nightly News and stereotypical serious old man voice-haver, has been accused of sexual harassment by former NBC News staffers.
The first comes from former NBC News correspondent Linda Vester, who told Variety that her first encounter with Tom was in 1993, when he came up behind her and tickled her up and down her waist. She was 28 at the time, he would have been about 53 (and married to his wife of 56 years, Meredith Lynn Auld). A year later, she was in NYC on assignment when she received a message from Tom asking her out for a drink. Linda told him she only drinks milk and cookies, and that she’d love to chat about work and only work, and ended the conversation.
Linda says he invited himself to her hotel room, and made himself comfortable on a sofa before getting flirty. Eventually he told her he wanted an affair, to which Linda says she reminded him he was married and she was Catholic. She claims he then grabbed the back of her neck and forced her to kiss him. She backed away, and Tom got the message, picking up his things and leaving. Linda allowed him into her room because she knew he had the power to ruin her career.
A year after that, Tom propositioned her again in London, where she was living at the time. Tom wanted to meet for “milk and cookies,” and she didn’t, but he showed up at the restaurant she was with and followed her home. She claims he pressured his way into her house and asked for a drink. He allegedly grabbed her neck again and forced a kiss. Linda says she responded by telling him to get out.
Linda stayed silent about the alleged harassment because she believed that women who spoke up about misconduct at NBC News were labeled as “troublemakers.” If you ask Ann Curry, I’m sure she might want to respond, “Yeah, and that’s if HR even bothers to fill out a formal complaint.”
The Washington Post has the second allegation against Tom Brokaw. A former female production assistant from NBC News claims that in the mid-1990s, Tom Brokaw stopped her in the hallway as she arrived at work one day. Tom allegedly grabbed her hands, commented on how cold they were (it was wintertime), and pressed them into his chest. Tom then allegedly asked her to come into his office after NBC Nightly News and they could talk about the possibility of a more permanent position. She says she felt Tom Brokaw’s intentions had nothing to do with her job search, and she never joined him in his office. She says she never reported the incident.
Tom Brokaw has responded to the allegations. He tells WaPo that “no such incident” occurred with the production assistant. The Hollywood Reporter says that after Linda Vester came forward with her story, Tom sent an email to several of his NBC colleagues saying that she’s exaggerating, and that she’s a bitter, failed journalist. You can read the whole email at THR, but here’s a bit of it:
“I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.
I am facing a long list of grievances from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom.
As I got up to leave I may have leaned over for a perfunctory goodnight kiss but my memory is that it happened at the door – on the cheek. No clenching her neck. That move she so vividly describes is NOT WHO I AM. Not in high school, college or thereafter.”
Tom also accused Linda of being a big fan of the late Roger Ailes, and that there was “not a peep” from her when he was being accused of sexual harassment.
Tom is pretty adamant that he was a perfect gentleman back in the 90s. Meanwhile, Linda would very much like you to believe Tom was delivering more than just the news. At the very least Tom should know his alleged pick-up game was seriously bad. Warming up cold hands in a flirty way, and milk and cookie dates? That might work on Santa’s wife Mrs. Claus, but that’s about it.