Linda Vester has alleged that when she was working for NBC News in the Nineties, she was “groped and assaulted by Tom Brokaw, then the anchor of NBC Nightly News.” The former anchor detailed her claims to Variety.
Vester joined NBC News in September 1989. In 1993, she became a full-time correspondent for Weekend Today. It was at this point when she alleges she had her first “humiliating” encounter with Brokaw. In August 1993, while at the Denver Bureau where she was covering Pope John Paul’s visit, she claims Brokaw grabbed her inappropriately.
“Tom Brokaw enters through the door and grabs me from behind and proceeds to tickle me up and down my waist,” she claimed. “I jumped a foot.” She said that no one present did anything. “He was the most powerful man at the network, and I was the most junior person, reporting for an entirely different show. It was out of the blue.
“There was a culture at NBC News, in my experience, where women who raise questions about misconduct get labeled as troublemakers. It can torpedo your career,” she continued. “I already knew that, so I didn’t want to make any trouble.”
She couldn’t recall when she saw him next following the alleged Denver incident, but she vividly recounted when she claimed he assaulted her. In January 1994 she was in New York for an assignment when she alleged she began receiving computer messages from Brokaw, who asked her what she was doing that night.
While she “barely knew him,” she felt compelled to answer Brokaw. “When the most powerful man at the network sends you a computer message, you answer him.” She said she told him she was heading back to D.C., where she lived, that evening.
She claimed he then suggested she stay and get drinks while he also acknowledged “Nah, too risky.” Despite Vester’s attempts to discourage him, he allegedly ended up at her hotel uninvited after she returned from the airport having missed her flight to D.C.
Vester claimed she asked him, “What do you want from me?” to which Brokaw allegedly responded, “An affair of more than passing affection.”
While they were in her hotel room, Vester alleged he assaulted her. “He grabbed me behind my neck and tried to force me to kiss him,” she claimed. “I was shocked to feel the amount of force and his full strength on me. I could smell alcohol on his breath, but he was totally sober. He spoke clearly. He was in control of his faculties.” She said she then broke away and informed him, “I don’t want to do this with you.” According to Vester, Brokaw agreed to leave, but then tried to kiss her again on his way out.
Vester claimed Brokaw repeatedly messaged her the next day and after first refusing to answer him, they spoke. “I don’t remember verbatim what he said. But I do remember he was engaging in verbal gymnastics to try to revise what had happened the night before in such a way to make it sound consensual. I did not assent to this revision of events. I was disgusted.”
Soon after, Vester moved to London. In May 1995, she said several NBC correspondents were there to cover the 50th anniversary of VE Day, including Brokaw who anchored Nightly News from London. She alleged that he once again tried to kiss her one night during that time.
A representative for NBC Nightly News did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment. Brokaw told Variety in a statement provided by an NBC News representative, “I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC. The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other.”
According to Washington Post, an unnamed second woman, who was a production assistant at the time, said Brokaw also acted inappropriately toward her in the 1990s. Brokaw also denied those allegations.
NBC News has recently grappled with sexual misconduct allegations against another one of its anchors. In November 2017, longtime Today anchor Matt Lauer was fired following multiple allegations of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”