NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw denies charges of sexual misconduct made by former colleagues
Longtime NBC News journalist Tom Brokaw is denying allegations by a former network correspondent who said he sexually harassed her in the mid-1990s.
Linda Vester, 54, told Variety and the Washington Post in stories published Thursday night, that Brokaw made unwanted sexual advances toward her when they worked together at NBC in the 1990s.
Vester alleged that Brokaw forcefully tried to her to kiss her in 1994 when she was staying at the Essex House Hotel in New York, where he showed up uninvited. A similar incident occurred in May 1995, she alleged, when Brokaw appeared unannounced at her flat in London when she was assigned to the network's bureau there.
Vester alleged that in both instances, Brokaw pressured her to have a sexual relationship with him. She said she feared that reporting the incidents would hurt her career.
Brokaw issued a statement saying the incidents Vester described in her accounts did not happen.
"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," Brokaw said in a statement. "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."
Brokaw also denied allegations made by a second unnamed woman who said in the Washington Post story that the anchor made unwanted advances toward her when she was a production assistant at the network in the 1990s.
The allegations against Brokaw are another blow to the image of NBC News, which has yet to comment on the matter.
Last November, the network fired its biggest star, longtime "Today" co-anchor Matt Lauer, for sexually inappropriate behavior after executives heard a formal complaint from a female network employee.
Vester told Variety she never discussed the incidents with management at NBC News at the time they were alleged to have happened because she believed the corporate culture was one in which "women who raise questions about misconduct get labeled as troublemakers. It can torpedo your career."
Brokaw, 78, was in the middle of his 22-year tenure as anchor of the "NBC Nightly News" during the period that Vester describes in her accounts. Since 2004, he has been a special correspondent contributing to special-event coverage and appearing in documentaries and specials.
Brokaw joined NBC News in 1966 as an anchor at the network's Los Angeles TV station, KNBC. He has been married since 1962.
In 2013, Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of blood cancer, but has continued to work.
Vester told the Post she decided to come forward with the allegations out of her belief that NBC News has failed to effectively investigate harassment issues at the company following the Lauer firing.
"NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division," she said in the newspaper's account.
NBC News senior national correspondent Kate Snow said Friday on "Today" that since Lauer's firing, the news division has been undergoing a "culture assessment" and that all employees are receiving workplace behavioral training. An internal review is being conducted by counsel at NBCUniversal.
Vester departed NBC in 1999 to join Fox News Channel, where she was an anchor until 2005, when she left the TV news business to raise her family.