The woman who publicly accused Tom Brokaw of trying to kiss her twice with violence talks about the impact that her admission has had on her life, almost two years after she came forward.
Linda Vester said it was one of Matt Lauer's victims who gave her the push she needed to come forward, and that she wasn't prepared for what happened after she shared her story.
& # 39; I thought coming forward would be more powerful and help other women. A short dredging of old memories and then it would be over, & Vester said in an interview with The cut.
& # 39; I was wrong there & & # 39;
Brokaw sent an email in a few hours denying her claims, while her former mentor signed a note at NBC and Rachel Maddow to defend the anchor.
Vester also reveals that Brokaw's lawyer threatened that Oscar winner Robert De Niro would speak against her, among other things.
& # 39; This was the part that was bizarre. He said, "Like Robert De Niro," said Vester,
& # 39; I have never met Robert De Niro in my life. How is he relevant to something? & # 39;
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Speaking: Linda Vester came forward to accuse Tom Brokaw (above in July) of trying to kiss her twice with violence when he was the anchor of the NBC Nightly News
Vester was a war correspondent for NBC in the 1990s and started hosting Weekend Today before he left for Fox News.
She told Washington Post and Variety magazine that Brokaw tried to kiss her twice with violence, first in 1994 and then again in 1995.
That timeline means that both alleged incidents occurred while Brokaw was the network's star anchor.
Hours after the story was published, Brokaw fired an email to NBC employees who denied her allegations.
& # 39; My lawyer read it aloud to me and my first reaction was: & # 39; Was he drunk when he wrote that? & # 39 ;, Vester said.
& # 39; It sounded like someone coming at four o'clock & # 39; get up in the morning to write an angry, drunk screed. It took a while before it realized how misogynistic and evil it was. & # 39;
It only got worse when several women in the network jumped Brokaw's defense.
"It didn't only hurt me personally, I thought it hurt so much every other woman trying to get up the courage," said Vetser of the letter, signed by about 100 female employees at NBC.
& # 39; Some people I had worked with – one of whom had called me my mentor – had signed that letter. I was also very disappointed with Rachel Maddow. & # 39;
She said that this behavior hurt the movement and called out some of the bigger names who signed that letter.
& # 39; What I think the women in power at NBC News – such as Savannah Guthrie and Mika Brzezinski and Rachel Maddow – (should do) is a call for a real investigation & # 39 ;, said Vester.
& # 39; It is one thing that they are marketed as feminine power and all for sisterhood. But they don't use their megaphone to make women really safe. & # 39;
However, that letter did not prevent Vester from continuing to share her story, or Brokaw's lawyer from making threats.
& # 39; I think we're going to go to war & # 39 ;, said lawyer Reid Weingarten after giving interviews to ABC and CNN.
Weingarten would only say that he & # 39; professional & # 39; and that he does not remember the name De Niro that has ever come into conversation.
& # 39; Those threats were the cause of the panic attacks, & # 39; said Vester.
& # 39; It's not like I'm a shrinking violet. I used to report from war zones. & # 39;
Brokaw initially said he met Vester twice, & # 39; both at her request & # 39; because she wanted career advice.
& # 39; The meetings were short, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda & # 39; s allegations, I did not make romantic advances towards her at the time, & # 39; he said in a statement.
Then came the letter in which Brokaw stated: & My family and friends are astonished and supportive. My NBC colleagues are stunned that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had problems with the truth, suddenly saved the flame of journalistic integrity. & # 39;
Victim: & # 39; I am dealing with a long list of complaints from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of starry & # 39 ;, Brokaw said about Vester (Brokaw and his wife Marilyn above in 2016)
In addition to Vester, a 24-year-old production assistant who also worked around NBC around the same time that Vester accused Brokaw of sexual harassment.
A day later, a third woman, Mary Reinholz, said that Brokaw tried to kiss her violently in 1968 when they were both working in California.
That incident happened at her home and two were not colleagues.
As is often the case with many of these incidents, Vester Brokaw & # 39; s did not report harassment to network management or executives and explained the reason for her silence during the interview.
& # 39; Let me paint a picture of what it was like in NBC News when this happened. I was a young reporter, who just started & # 39 ;, said Vester in an interview about ABC & # 39; s Good Morning America.
& # 39; Tom Brokaw was the most powerful man in the network, so the idea that I could move on to management and say that I was attacked by the most powerful man in the network and a big money farmer, well, that just didn't happen to be heard. & # 39;
Further on, Vester told Stephanopoulos that she did not feel that HR was equipped on the network to deal with situations like that, so she chose to remain silent.
& # 39; I found it unsafe to go to NBC and I never felt safe with NBC News & # 39 ;, Vester said.
NBC was interested in talking to Vester about her claims, but she said she was reluctant to do this, especially with a team of lawyers and executives from her former workplace.
& # 39; They called my lawyer and said they wanted to talk to me and our answer is, as soon as NBC News or NBC Universal hires external counsel to do a thorough investigation, I will be happy & # 39 ;, Vester explains .
That statement came one day after NBC revealed that the six-month internal investigation into Lauer & # 39; s sexual misconduct had determined that no executives or senior management of Today or NBC News were aware of the hostile behavior of the host.
Vester said that research, and liking others, was a waste of time.
& # 39; Well, I mean, I think it's common sense. You cannot examine yourself. That is simply not possible, & Vester said.
& # 39; There is an internal bias. That is how it works, so you must have external counsel. & # 39;
TOM BROKAW DISCLAIMS THE SEX ASSAULT-CLAIM IN E-MAIL
It is 4:00 am on the first day of my new life as an accused predator in the universe of American journalism. I was ambushed and then walked through the & # 39; s pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male hatred for women, taken to the guillotine and stripped of every honor and achievement I had earned in more than half a century journalism and citizenship.
I am angry, hurt and detached from what I thought would be the last passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social goals that have always given my life extra meaning.
Tom Brokaw and wife Meredith in 2016
Instead, I face a long list of complaints from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom. More than twenty years after I opened the door for her and opened a new job at Fox News, she released a flood of unsubstantiated criticism.
Linda Vester was in charge of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission (you read that right), that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in General was given a free hand to try and destroy everything I have achieved with my family, my NBC career, my writing and my citizenship.
My family and friends are astonished and supportive. My NBC colleagues are stunned that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had problems with the truth, suddenly saved the flame of journalistic integrity.
Her big load: that more than 20 years ago I made inappropriate and uninvited appearances on two occasions in her apartment and in a hotel room. As an enthusiastic beginner, Vester, like others in that category, was enthusiastic for advice and companionship with older colleagues. She often selected me for informal meetings, including those she describes in her hotel room in New York. I should not have gone, but I emphatically did not attack her orally and physically and proposed an affair in language from pulp fiction.
She was reluctant, not afraid, filled with gossip in the office, including a recent rumor about an affair. As that discussion progressed, she often reminded me that she was a Catholic and that she felt uncomfortable with my presence. So, 23 years later, I left to be amazed by her melodramatic description of the encounter. A year or so later, when I passed London after the end of World War II ceremonies in Moscow, I saw her at the office. chatted and later agreed to a drink. (If NY was so traumatic, why a reunion?) She knew a bar, but it was closed by that late hour, so she suggested her apartment nearby (not: "Well, not where to go. See you tomorrow ).
Again, her hospitality was uncomplicated with great pride in her reporting in Congo and more questions about NY opportunities.
As I recall, she was sitting at one end of a couch, me at the other. It was late and I had been up for 24 hours. When I got up to leave, I might have bent over for a dutiful goodnight kiss, but my memory is that it happened at the door – on the cheek. No clenched neck. That movement that she so vividly describes is NOT WHO I AM. Not in high school, college or after.
She came to NY and had mixed success on the overnight news. As I recall, trying her out on TODAY did not go well. Her contract was not renewed.
Here is a part of her story that she has somehow omitted. I think I saw her in the corridors and asked how it went. She was interested in starting the cable and I said I didn't think it was going anywhere. What about Fox, who was just building up? She was interested and followed me to my office where, while listening, I called Roger Ailes. He said, "send her over."
She got the job. I've never heard of her or seen her again. I was aware that she became a big fan of Ailes and often praised his considerable broadcast instinct in public. But when he ran into problems in the sexual area, not a beep from this woman who now describes herself as the keeper of the flame for Me: Too.
I am not a perfect person. I have made mistakes, personally and professionally. But while I write this & # 39; early in the morning after a drive through shooting through Vester, the Washington Post and Variety, I am astonished by the free ride a woman with resentment against NBC News receives, no distinctive credentials or passions during FOX.
As a private individual who married a rich man, she was active in social goals, but she came to me: too late, depicting herself as a cave mother. In the intervening years since we met on those two occasions, she had no reason to worry that I could influence her career.
Some of her family members through marriage are very close friends. She could not answer the phone and say: & I would like to talk. I have problems with those two meetings 20 years ago? & # 39; Instead, she became a character killer. Remove all hyperboles and what has they achieved? What was her purpose? Hard to believe it didn't look much more at me than at me: too.
I deeply hate the pain and anger that she inflicted on my wife, daughters, and granddaughters – all women with considerable success and passion for the rights of women they personify in their daily lives and jobs. We continue as a family that pursues social justice in medical control rooms, corporate offices, social therapy, empowerment of African women, and journalism. And the attack of no woman can take that away.
I am proud of who I am as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen. Vester, the Washington Post and Variety cannot reduce that. But in this one piece of women they try sensational claims.
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