NEW YORK – A group of 65 women in the television industry has sent out a letter in support of NBC's Tom Brokaw after being accused of unwanted sexual advances by a former colleague. The women said he had treated them all with fairness and respect, given them opportunities for advancement and promoted success in their careers.
Maria Shriver, Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kelly O'Donnell, Anne Thompson and Kristen Welker were among the women who put their names to the point. They wrote that they know Brokaw "to be a man of great decency and integrity."
The letter was distributed after Linda Vester, a former NBC News correspondent, said she was "pummeled and attacked by Tom Brokaw." In interviews with Variety magazine and the Washington Post, Vester described two "unwanted advances" by Tom Brokaw in the mid-nineties, including one in which she invited herself into her hotel room.
"He leans forward with his index finger and puts it on my mouth to silence me and says," This is our compact one, "said Vester." And at that point he took the same hand, reaching behind my head and tried to force me to kiss him. "
Brokaw has rejectedIn a note to colleagues on Friday he compared the allegations with a" drive-by shoot "
Several news organizations released a letter from Brokaw to colleagues on Friday, saying, "I was ambushed, and then an assassin went to the guillotine on the pages of The Washington Post and Variety and deprived of achievement that I have earned in more than half a century of journalism and citizenship. "
Brokaw said Vester invited him to her hotel room in New York.
" I would not have but I did not explicitly verbally and physically attack them, "said Brokaw.
"She had reported something like that back then, I do not think anyone would have blinked," said Sarah Ellison of the Washington Post. "I think it's a different time."
But Ellison said a second unnamed NBC associate described another incident at about the same time. She told the post office Brokaw put her hands against his chest, pulled her closer, then invited her to come to his office later. Brokaw told the post office "no such incident has happened." The Post said that no woman had reported her allegations at this time to NBC.
The latest complaints about sexual harassment are the latest against senior media representatives, including former co-host Charlie Rose of CBS This Morning, who was released by CBS in November.
"People are afraid to report people in power," Ellison said. "They are afraid that they will not be believed, and they are afraid that there will be some kind of retribution."
The Washington Post also revealed new allegations against former presenter of the NBC "Today" show, Matt Lauer. Lauer admitted that he had acted inappropriately, but said he was not violent, aggressive or offensive. "He could not be reached for comment on Friday."
In a statement to the staff, NBC chairman Andy Lack said that NBC's claims such as those against Brokaw are taking them very seriously, and the results from the network's internal review Lauer's actions could already be released next week. CBS News could not reach NBC for comment.
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