Linda Vester wants to make it clear that she’s not accusing iconic NBC broadcaster Tom Brokaw of sexual misconduct for money. She says she has a much more important reason.
“Some people might be tempted to believe that all harassers look and act like Harvey Weinstein. It’s not true,” Vester told ABC’s “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos on Thursday. “Some of them can look like cultural icons, like Tom Brokaw, and they can be decent during the day to a lot of people and actually be really kind a lot of the time. And yet still have hidden behavior.”
Vester, a former NBC News war correspondent, reiterated this point in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday.
“I came forward for a simple reason: to let the public know that otherwise good men ― men who treat women well or are even their champions ― can also commit acts of sexual harassment,” she wrote.
Vester went public with her allegations to Variety in April, accusing Brokaw of making unwanted sexual advances, groping and trying to kiss her in the 1990s, while she worked at NBC. Two other women have also accused the veteran journalist of sexual harassment and unwanted touching.
Her Wednesday op-ed hits on an important point: Sexual harassers aren’t monolithic and, sometimes, masquerade as progressives. (Think former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former NBC “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer.) Vester tied this point to the letter of support for Brokaw signed by 115 current and former NBC colleagues, which described him as “a man of tremendous decency and integrity,” who helped many of them advance their careers.
Otherwise good men ― men who treat women well or are even their champions ― can also commit acts of sexual harassment. Linda Vester
“Not all harassers are cartoonish bogeymen who mistreat every woman in their path,” she continued. “It isn’t really relevant that while a man might have harassed some women, he didn’t harass all women. Many men who harass have been well-liked and respected inside the organization and publicly. They are, like all of us, multidimensional.”
Vester said in her Washington Post op-ed that her second objective is to ensure that other NBC employees feel safe coming forward with their own accounts of workplace harassment.
“I spoke out publicly to make the related point to his employer: People in power at NBC News, and all institutions, must take such accusations seriously,” she wrote. “Rallying around the star anchor is an understandable instinct, but it is the wrong one. And one high-profile firing is not enough.”
Head over to The Washington Post to read Vester’s full op-ed.