It is 4:00 am on the first day of my new life as an accused predator in the universe of American journalism. I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.
I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life.
Instead I am facing a long list of grievances from a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom. She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox news.
Linda Vester was given the run of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission (you read that right), that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in general was given a free hand to try to destroy all that I have achieved with my family, my NBC career, my writing and my citizenship.
My family and friends are stunned and supportive. My NBC colleagues are bewildered that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth, was suddenly the keeper of the flame of journalistic integrity.
Her big charge: that on two occasions more than 20 years ago I made inappropriate and uninvited appearances in her apartment and in a hotel room. As an eager beginner, Vester, like others in that category, was eager for advice and camaraderie with senior colleagues. She often sought me out for informal meetings, including the one she describes in her New York hotel room. I should not have gone but I emphatically did not verbally and physically attack her and suggest an affair in language right out of pulp fiction.
She was coy, not frightened, filled with office gossip, including a recent rumor of an affair. As that discussion advanced she often reminded me she was a Catholic and that she was uncomfortable with my presence. So I left, 23 years later, to be stunned by her melodramatic description of the meeting. A year or so later, as I passed through London after covering end of WWII ceremonies in Moscow, I saw her in the office, chatted and agreed to a drink later. (If NY was so traumatic, why a reunion?) She knew a bar but by that late hour it was closed so she suggested her nearby apartment (not, “Well, no where to go. See you tomorrow”).
Again, her hospitality was straight forward [sic] with lots of pride in her reporting in the Congo and more questions about NY opportunities.
As I remember, she was at one end of a sofa, I was at the other. It was late and I had been up for 24 hours. As I got up to leave I may have leaned over for a perfunctory goodnight kiss, but my memory is that it happened at the door – on the cheek. No clenching her neck. That move she so vividly describes is NOT WHO I AM. Not in high school, college or thereafter.
She came to NY and had mixed success on the overnight news. As I remember her try out [sic] on TODAY did not go well. Her contract was not renewed.
Here is a part of her story she somehow left out. I think I saw her in the hallways and asked how it was going. She was interested in cable start up [sic] and I said I didn’t think that was going anywhere. What about Fox, which was just building up? She was interested and followed me to my office where, while she listened in, I called Roger Ailes. He said, “send her over.”
She got the job. I never heard from her or saw her again. I was aware that she became a big fan of Ailes, often praising his considerable broadcasting instincts in public. But when he got in trouble on sexual matters, not a peep from this woman who now describes her self [sic] as the keeper of the flame for Me:Too.
I am not a perfect person. I’ve made mistakes, personally and professionally. But as I write this at dawn on the morning after a drive by [sic] shooting by Vester, the Washington Post and Variety, I am stunned by the free ride given a woman with a grudge against NBC News, no distinctive credentials or issue passions while at FOX.
As a private citizen who married a wealthy man, she has been active in social causes but she came to Me:Too late, portraying herself as a den mother. In the intervening years since we met on those two occasions, she had no reason to worry I could affect her career.
Some of her relatives by marriage are very close friends. She couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “I’d like to talk. I have issues from those two meetings 20 years ago?” Instead she became a character assassin. Strip away all of the hyperbole and what has she achieved? What was her goal? Hard to believe it wasn’t much more Look At Me than Me:Too.
I deeply resent the pain and anger she inflicted on my wife, daughters and granddaughters – all women of considerable success and passion about women’s rights which they personify in their daily lives and professions. We’ll go on as a family that pursues social justice in medical emergency rooms, corporate offices, social therapy, African women’s empowerment and journalism. And no one woman’s assault can take that away.
I am proud of who I am as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen. Vester, the Washington Post and Variety cannot diminish that. But in this one woman piece of sensational claims they are trying.
Does this sound like an apology to you? A recognition of past wrongs? Repentence?
I’ve pissed people off both deliberately and thoughtlessly and I regret nothing. I might express sympathy that you feel bad and defend my actions from a personal perspective, but I’ll never claim they weren’t mine and that you’re delusional. That would be intentional abuse in the present moment- mere gaslighting.
Too frequently that’s what we’re seeing now and it makes me angry. “In the context of the times…” “They were misunderstood…” “This mountain of evidence is just a molehill…”
Well, I’m not having any of it. The last time I got thrown off dK it was because I called Deoliver a rapist apologist because she was and is. She defended a sockpuppet crony’s attack on a heartfelt and real rape experience simply because he was her crony. She did that and owns it.
Now, were they right to ban me? Probably. It’s not good for discipline to allow Peons (make no mistake, that’s what the software calls you) slam your Contributing Editors and Admins no matter how true it is and I not only don’t regret my actions, they made my life happier and better.
Well, in the long run.
Here’s everything wrong with Tom Brokaw’s awful letter responding to sexual harassment allegations
by Rebekah Entralgo, Think Progress
Apr 27, 2018
According to both the Post and Variety, Tom Brokaw, a special correspondent for NBC News and the retired anchor of NBC Nightly News, has been accused of sexual predation by a former NBC correspondent named Linda Vester.
Vester told Variety that in the 1990s, Brokaw tried to force her into kissing him on more than one occasion and groped her in a company conference room.
Brokaw initially denied the allegations flatly and plainly, saying he made “no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other,” but in the hours since the story first broke, Brokaw apparently decided he should say more.
In a lengthy letter sent to colleagues Friday, Brokaw slammed Vester and the allegations — using damning language that some have likened to Bill O’Reilly’s when he faced with sexual harassment allegations of his own.
It would be difficult to appropriately sum up all the egregious, victim-blaming language used by Brokaw so let’s just tick through the worst of it.
If you have to start off a letter by addressing how late it is, it is probably in your best interest to close your computer, get some sleep, and address your colleagues with a well-rested mind in the morning.
“I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, 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 wrote.
Brokaw is not in prison. He was not “perp walked.” He’s mostly retired from life in the spotlight.
He takes credit for, and later attacks, his accuser’s career.
“She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on my more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News,” Brokaw wrote of Vester.
Taking credit for his accuser’s career and using it as leverage is a bad look, particularly when Vester was already an accomplished young journalist before she became an NBC foreign correspondent.
Later in the letter, he attacks her integrity as a journalist, writing, “My colleagues are bewildered that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth was suddenly the keeper of the flame of journalistic integrity.”
Brokaw also throws in a tidbit that she had “mixed success” on the overnight news shift, and that her TODAY show audition did not go well.
Lots of victim-blaming.
Brokaw describes Vester in the 1990s as an “eager beginner” who sought him out for informal meetings, including the one she described in her New York hotel room where Vester alleges Brokaw showed up uninvited and attempted to kiss her.
He goes on to ask why she never came forward in the 20 years after the incident, hinting at ulterior motives and using her wealth and marriage against her.
“As a private citizen who married a wealthy man she has been active in social causes but she came to Me:Too late, portraying herself as a den mother,” Brokaw wrote.
For the record: it is never too late for women to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment.
“What was her goal? Hard to believe it wasn’t much more Look At Me than Me: Too,” Brokaw wrote.
That Brokaw would be so insensitive to a female accuser should really come as no surprise to those familiar with comments he has made about the #MeToo movement.
In a January appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, he complained that there was “no system in place” to deal with such accusations, deriding them as “tabloid fodder.”
“But as I write this at dawn on the morning after a drive by shooting by Vester, the Washington Post and Variety I am stunned by the free ride given a woman with a grudge against NBC News, no distinctive credentials or issue passions while at FOX,” Brokaw wrote.
Again, Brokaw insults Vester’s career by insinuating she wasn’t successful at her work. That, of course, should have no bearing on the accusations. Does Brokaw believe that only accusations made by well-known public figures be taken seriously?
Good question. Does he? How does he feel about Cosby, another NBC icon now proven guilty of felony sexual assault?
Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell Among More Than 60 Women Voicing Support for Tom Brokaw
By Cynthia Littleton, Variety
As 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.
We are current and former colleagues of Tom’s, who have worked with him over a period spanning four decades. We are producers, correspondents, anchors, directors, executives, researchers, personal assistants, editors and technical staff.
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.
I dunno, is Linda Vester simply another Andrea Constand con artist and liar? Will Bill Cosby get his own “me too” moment on Charlie Rose’s new show?
Sympathy for the Charlie
Megan Garber, The Atlantic
Apr 26, 2018
The particulars of these comeback stories, like the egregiousness of their subjects’ reported behavior, vary. They feature a mixture of anonymous quotes; of informed speculation; of advice offered up to the disgraced; of, as in Keillor’s case, announcements of one’s own intention to return couched in vaguely conspiratorial tones. (“I’m ready to start up The Writers [sic] Almanac again,” the radio host wrote on Facebook. “I get the idea that public radio stations will never carry it again and so we’ll need to find a way to do it through social media. There are smart people who can manage this and make it easy.”)
What the stories tend to share is that trial-balloon hot air. They read, collectively, as tentative but brazen, painting pictures of men who are abashed, but not so abashed as to imagine that they won’t benefit from that old, alleged gift: the great American second chance. They revolve, in all that, around complicated questions— a tangle of moral considerations and business concerns and time being up and time marching on— about who deserves redemption. And who, conversely, does not. “No quote has ever been proven false more often than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s declaration that there are no second acts [in] American lives,” The Hollywood Reporter observed, before proceeding to offer a smattering of suggestions about how Louis C.K. might orchestrate his own such encore.
Which is to say that the comeback stories make distinctly sitcomic assumptions: Their universes are small. They present a set cast of characters—men who are so familiar that one of them earned $25 million a year precisely because of that familiarity—and figure that their fates are the ones readers will want to follow. The stories are, taken together, subtle (you might also say insidious) arguments not merely about who merits forgiveness, but also about who merits empathy in the first place. Who, according to the laws of the sitcom interloper, deserves the audience’s attention and investment and care? Who is the star—the center that must hold—and who is expendable? Who, in America’s ceaseless show, should stay in the spotlight?
Missing from the easy redemption stories, for the most part, are the women who came forward to say, “Me too.” Missing are the carefully reported details of the behavior that made the men’s redemption necessary in the first place. “He lifted his arms straight up and grabbed both of my breasts,” one woman, in December, reported of Batali. Rose, a woman said in November, “appeared before her in an untethered bathrobe, naked underneath. She said he subsequently attempted to put his hands down her pants. She said she pushed his hands away and wept throughout the encounter.” It was reported the same month that Lauer, summoning a female employee to his office, “dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.”
These are the accounts that tend to get edited out of the breezy redemption narratives that are currently emerging. These are the stories that tend to get brushed aside in favor of something newer and fresher and more familiar. (The thing about plots is that they must, somehow, find a way to move forward.) After he masturbated in front of her and her comedy partner Julia Wolov, Dana Min Goodman recalled in November, Louis C.K. effectively gave the pair the expendable-sitcom-character treatment: “Which one is Dana and which one is Julia?” he asked them.
“To welcome someone like C.K. or Batali back into the fold not six months after these accusations broke,” The Ringer’s Lindsay Zoladz put it, “is to intimidate other victims from speaking out, because it will make them think their stories don’t matter, or that the power granted to them by the #MeToo movement was just a temporary spell.” It is also to treat the women, in all these stories of quiet rehabilitation, as, effectively, complications. Having made their cameos, when #MeToo was the story arc of the moment, they are now no longer necessary. The show has moved on. The episode has ended; the credits have unspooled. The women become, in those framings of things, Emilys: Their anger—their pain—no longer fits the narrative. It is inconvenient. And so it is written away.
In March, before The Hollywood Reporter would run a long feature on his “broken” and “brilliant” and “lonely” new life—and before Page Six would find him dining with Sean Penn and “partying” with Woody Allen and allegedly planning an atonement-themed #MeToo talk show— Charlie Rose sent a tweet. “H,” the message read, in full. Whether a typo or a test or something else entirely, the posting—the single letter, denuded of context or explanation—ended up serving as the first public comment Rose made on Twitter since leaving his shows in disgrace. And the hovering little letter was met with, for the most part … an outpouring of love. “Charlie, welcome back. Your absence has left an intellectual void not only in my life, but that of many of your viewers,” one person replied. “We all make Big mistakes, Hurry back,” said another. “Hope to see you back on the air soon,” said another. After all, Charlie Rose’s loyal fan explained: “At this time of turmoil we need your journalism and professionalism.”
These elitist assholes are nothing but paid professional liars who think that their popularity and money will keep them from suffering any negative consequences from objectively horrific acts.
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Sioux Center Iowa, 1/23/16
I wonder who said that?
My point is that we seem to live in post-accountability times for which I blame Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid for failing to prosecute what can only be called War Crimes by the
W Administration (Holder immunizing Wall Street didn’t help). The default plan of action is denial, I was hacked, I didn’t really mean that, and- Ok, I’m really sorry you caught me and have all this proof that I did it, can’t we all just get over it, I’ve evolved.
I hope that sounds as insincere as I meant it to.