A week after two women accused former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw of inappropriate behavior while they worked at NBC, a third woman has spoken out.
Last week, former NBC anchor Linda Vester and an unnamed woman spoke out against Brokaw. The Washington Post included the accusations in a story about NBC's handling of in-house sexual harassment incidents and Vester gave a detailed interview to Variety "[alleging] that Brokaw physically tried to force her to kiss him on two separate occasions, groped her in a NBC conference room and showed up at her hotel room uninvited. Two friends who Vester told at the time corroborated her story with Variety, and she shared her journal entries from the time period."
Brokaw vehemently denied the charges.
Writing in The Villager on Tuesday, Mary Reinholz recalled Brokaw helping her with a story she was writing for the LA Times Magazine (Brokaw also wrote for the publication), "We talked and then, abruptly, he was embracing me and giving me a French kiss. I pulled away, reminding him that he was married and a tryst was out of the question. He said, 'Yes, it would be unfair to Meredith,' meaning his wife."
Reinholz also gave insight into the thinking at the time:
I don’t recall much else about the episode, and shrugged it off as progressive women of my generation were wont to do. After all, we were overthrowing the sedate 1950s and its dictates that good girls should never engage in premarital sex. I had been married but wasn’t interested in Brokaw as a sex partner and the situation made me uncomfortable.
Even so, I liked him and wanted to stay friendly. I even called him a couple of times for one reason or another in Los Angeles and once in the early 1970s after I relocated to New York. By then he had been tapped as NBC’s White House correspondent. He was polite, and gave me the telephone number of a government agency I wanted to contact. I never saw him again.
However, she felt moved to come forward after Brokaw's withering response to the earlier accusations. Brokaw claimed he was "ambushed and then perp walked" by the Washington Post and Variety, and described Vester as someone with "limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth."
Many of NBC's female journalists, including Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Maria Shriver and Kelly O'Donnell, issued a letter of support for Brokaw as "as a man of tremendous decency and integrity" and as one who "treated each of us with fairness and respect." Page Six has reported that some of the women felt pressured to sign the letter, with one saying, "We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw. We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers. 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 ... If more women come forward, that’s a big problem.”