Tom Brokaw, the veteran anchor of NBC News, was accused on Thursday of repeated sexual harassment from two women who used to work with him.
In Variety, Linda Vester, a former war correspondent, alleged:
Vester alleged 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.
This was joined by an allegation reported by the Washington Post. From Vox:
The Post also spoke with an unnamed woman who at the age of 24 as a production assistant in the 1990s says Brokaw made advances toward her. “He put my hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, ‘How is your job search going?’” she told the Post. She said he invited her to his office, but she did not go.
Neither woman reported the incidents to authorities at the time. This calls the veracity of the claims into question, but the situation – lower-station staffers who would likely have been fired for bringing such issues to light – renders their allegations plausible.
Brokaw, a broadcasting legend, immediately had many prominent women step in to defend him… more than 110 women, at last count, have signed an open letter stating (from CNN/Money):
“Tom has treated each of us with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers. As we have advanced across industries — news, publishing, law, business and government — Tom has been a valued source of counsel and support. We know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity.”
Signatories include Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell and many more.
Add me to the list. https://t.co/KpoPznW67m
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) April 28, 2018
More than 100 experienced people vouching for Brokaw undercuts the two people claiming harassment, especially when those two have no reports to the authorities and the only evidence so far released is the testimony of a few close friends and journal entries.
This would seem to effectively shut the allegations down. BUT…
Brokaw reportedly knew about Brian Williams’ lies, but did not expose him to the public, instead continuing to lend his image of integrity to the man, per NPR:
“Well, Brokaw’s told colleagues, going back at least a year, that he heard Williams giving increasingly grandiose versions of the downed Iraqi helicopter story that got him into trouble in recent days, and that Brokaw himself looked into the anecdote and that the facts simply didn’t match.”
So, we’ve got the man not bothering to inform the public about his successor lying to them, and instead trying to deal with it internally. Similar issues were raised when Matt Lauer’s abuse allegations came forth. (New York Times)
Rachel Maddow, a prominent defender of Brokaw, has had her own issues with honesty, as an example from The Intercept demonstrates. The same can be said for Mika, who hid her relationship with Trump during the election cycle (Washington Post), and Andrea Mitchell, who has been on questionable terms with the truth for years, according to the Huffington Post.
The reason this story has legs, despite the sparse evidence and few accusers, is because the many defenders have histories of not being honest. When confronted by two sides of a story, the side with known liars will always be under suspicion.