02:29 GMT09 July 2020
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    Legendary NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw is facing allegations of sexual misconduct that date back to the 1990s. Reports first surfaced on Thursday night after two women claiming the anchor behaved inappropriately with them spoke with Variety and The Washington Post.

    In an interview with Variety, NBC's former war correspondent Linda Vester stated that Brokaw had made unwanted advances to her multiple times from 1993 to 1995.

    Brokaw's questionable behavior first began when Vester was a full-time correspondent for "Weekend Today" in 1993. In August of that year, she was coving Pope John Paul II's visit to Denver.

    "We were in the Denver bureau, and there was a conference room. I'm standing there, and Tom Brokaw enters through the door and grabs me from behind and proceeds to tickle me up and down my waist," she said. "I jumped a foot and I looked at a guy who was the senior editor of ‘Nightly,' and his jaw was hanging open."

    "Nobody acted like anything wrong was happening, but I was humiliated," Vester added.

    The second incident happened in January 1994 when he showed up at her hotel room, though he hadn't been invited.

    "I open the [hotel] door. I ask in an intentionally skeptical way, trying to slow this down, ‘What are you doing here?' He answered that he was attending his stage manager's retirement party and was in the neighborhood," Vester recalled of the incident. "He walked past me and sat down on the sofa in my suite. He puts his arm on the back of the sofa and he said, ‘I like our rat-a-tat-tat.'"

    Prior to Brokaw showing up Vester's hotel room, the 78-year-old had sent her chat messages suggesting the two meet up sometime.

    "I thought it was a bizarre statement. I said nothing to him. He was sitting, and I was standing across the coffee table from him approximately four feet away. Now I could feel myself trembling. As I stood there, I asked in a frustrated and scared tone, ‘What do you want from me?'" she told the publication. After Vester sat next to Brokaw on on a nearby sofa, things went south.

    "He grabbed me behind my neck and tried to force me to kiss him. I was shocked to feel the amount of force and his full strength on me. I could smell alcohol on his breath, but he was totally sober. He spoke clearly. He was in control of his faculties," Vester recalled. She said she pulled away and shut down his advances.

    Though Brokaw left, it wasn't the last time that he would try to force himself on Vester. In May of 1995, Vester was working for NBC's London bureau and all correspondents were working on various reports for the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, which commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied powers on May 8, 1945, ending World War II in Europe. Brokaw, who crossed the pond to do a segment for the "Nightly News," put the moves on Vester once again after inviting himself to her apartment.

    "I remember unlocking my door to my flat and turning on the lights and Tom walking past me. He sits down in my living room and asks for drinks. I got two glasses of tap water and set them down on the table," Vester told the outlet. "In the same exact way as in 1994, he reached behind my neck and tried to force my head toward him and force me to kiss him. I broke away again. I said, ‘You need to go.' And incredibly, he said, ‘Can you walk me to a taxi?' I thought, ‘You just tried to assault me, but you expect me to walk you to a taxi?'"

    Vester explained to Variety that she decided to speak out after so many years because she wanted to highlight how NBC News has had an issue with workplace culture.

    Another woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Washington Post that Brokaw has grabbed her hands, remarking that they were cold, and held them against his chest when she was a production assistant looking for a permanent role as a researcher with the company.

    "He put my hands under his jacket and against his chest and pulled me in so close and asked me, ‘How is your job search going?'" she told the Post. He later told her to "come into my office" to talk about her future at the company.

    The unidentified woman stressed that Brokaw's interest in talking about her future was clearly not just about career advice. According to the Post, she never met up for the chat and eventually left NBC News.

    Since the allegations surfaced, Brokaw has denied the reports, suggesting that the "no romantic overtures" ever took place with Vester and that nothing ever happened with the production assistant.

    According to the LA Times, in a letter sent to his colleagues on Friday, Brokaw describes Vester's allegations as a "drive-by shooting" peddled because Vester held a grudge against NBC News for "her stalled career."

    These allegations come after NBC's "Today" show host Matt Lauer was fired November 2017 over reports of his sexual misconduct in the workplace.


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