Several female NBC News staffers reportedly felt pressured to sign a public letter of support for embattled newsman Tom Brokaw.
Brokaw stands accused of sexual misconduct by a former NBC News correspondent.
What's the background?
Last week, Linda Vester, a former NBC News correspondent, accused Brokaw of making unwanted sexual advances in the 1990s.
Vester alleged that on one occasion when she was in Denver to cover the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1993, Brokaw approached her from behind and acted inappropriately.
“While I was standing there in the Denver bureau with my back to the door, from behind me, out of nowhere, Tom Brokaw walked up, put his hands on my waist and tickled me all up and down my waist,” she alleged.
“It was physically unpleasant and humiliating,” Vester said of the alleged incident. “I jumped a foot [and] looked the editor of ‘Nightly News’ in the eye. He looked back at me and his jaw dropped.”
Vester said that “no one did a thing,” and “there was nothing I could really do or say because I was so low on the totem pole.”
Brokaw reportedly tried to kiss her in a later incident in New York City.
Vester said that the news anchor allegedly visited her in her hotel room, where he tried to kiss her twice.
Through an NBC spokesperson, Brokaw responded to Vester’s allegations and said, “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,” the statement added.
Just a day later, an email Brokaw reportedly sent to NBC staffers went public, which blasted Vester's allegations.
What's this new letter all about?
On Friday, Deadline reported that "dozens of female NBC staffers" signed a letter in public support of Brokaw.
According to the outlet, a portion of the letter stated, "[A]s professional women, we fully endorse the conversation around abuse of power in the workplace. In the context of that conversation, we would like to share our perspectives on working with Tom Brokaw."
Deadline reported that the letter adds that "[Brokaw] 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," and that they "know him to be a man of tremendous decency and integrity."
The list of signatories includes "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, "Today" correspondent Maria Shriver, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and many more.
What's the latest report?
On Monday, the New York Post's Page Six reported that some NBC staffers who signed the moving letter felt pressured to do so.
Page Six's Emily Smith wrote that the staffers felt they were "under huge pressure" to sign what was referred to as "the women's letter," which defended Brokaw from Vester's allegations and reported that "more than 115 women" signed the letter.
According to Smith, one NBC staffer stated:
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.
Another insider reportedly added that "powerful names on the letter could intimidate other victims."
"When you have over 100 women like Andrea Mitchell signing a letter of support without knowing the facts, it’s pretty scary," the insider told Page Six. "The letter will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward."
In a statement, a representative for NBC News said that "the letter is a purely grassroots effort, led by women outside of the company who are motivated by their own support for Tom Brokaw."
"Management has played absolutely no role whatsoever," the rep added.
According to the Page Six report, however, "the letter was led by Goldman exec Liz Bowyer."
Bowyer "also happens to be a producer for Brokaw's NBC doc unit and has worked on two of his books."