In interviews with Variety magazine and The Washington Post, Vester described two “unwanted advances” from Tom Brokaw in the mid 1990s, including one in which she says he invited himself into her hotel room.
“He leans over with his index finger and puts it on my mouth to silence me and says, ‘This is our compact,'” Vester said. “And at that point, he took the same hand, reached behind my head and tried to force me to kiss him.”
Several news organizations on Friday published a letter from Brokaw to colleagues. In it, he said, “I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety… taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.”
Brokaw said Vester invited him to her New York hotel room.
“I should not have gone but I emphatically did not verbally and physically attack her,” Brokaw said.
“Back then had she reported something like this, I don’t think anyone would’ve blinked,” said Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post. “I think it’s a different time.”
But Ellison said a second unnamed NBC employee described another incident around the same time. She told the Post Brokaw put her hands against his chest, pulled her closer and then invited her to later come to his office. Brokaw told the Post “no such incident happened.” The Post said neither woman reported their allegations to NBC at the time.
“People are afraid to report on people in power,” Ellison said. “They’re afraid they won’t be believed and they’re afraid that there will be some kind of retaliation.”
The Washington Post also revealed new allegations against former NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer. Lauer admitted acting inappropriately but said he was not coercive, aggressive or abusive.” He could not be reached for comment on Friday.
In a note to staff on Friday, NBC chairman Andy Lack said NBC takes allegations like those against Brokaw very seriously, and said findings from the network’s internal review into Lauer’s actions may come out as soon as next week. CBS News was unable to reach NBC for comment.