Tom Brokaw is being accused of groping and twice trying to forcibly kiss a younger NBC News colleague in the 1990s.
Variety and the Washington Post on Thursday published the account of Linda Vester, who alleges Brokaw repeatedly harassed and humiliated her when she was a young journalist trying to rise through the ranks of the network.
Friends who Vester told at the time corroborated her story to Variety and the Post, which also reviewed her diary entries that recorded the alleged interactions.
Brokaw was a marquee anchor for NBC, where he has hosted Today, NBC Nightly News, and at one point Meet the Press. He now serves as a special correspondent and works on documentaries.
NBC did not immediately return BuzzFeed News' request for comment, but in a statement to Variety issued through a spokesperson for the network, Brokaw, 78, disputed Vester's allegations as an inaccurate version of events.
"I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC," he said. "The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her at that time or any other."
In an email from Brokaw obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, the journalist defended his legacy and character to his NBC colleagues Friday morning.
"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," he wrote. "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."
Meanwhile, Brokaw withdrew as a commencement speaker at Connecticut's Sacred Heart University next month, saying it would be a distraction.
For her part, Vester said she decided to come forward now to shed light on a culture of misconduct and lack of action at NBC, which recently fired one of its biggest news stars, Today cohost Matt Lauer, over similar allegations of sexual misconduct.
"I am speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division," Vester, 52, told the Post.
Another woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Post that Brokaw acted inappropriately toward her in the ’90s when she was a production assistant at the network, which Brokaw also denied.
Vester alleges the misconduct started in 1994, when she missed a shuttle from New York City back to Washington, DC, where she lived. That night, Vester said Brokaw showed up at her hotel room under the pretense of having been in the neighborhood.
After trying to get out of a conversation he insisted they have on her couch, Vester said in interviews with the Post and Variety that Brokaw "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," Vester said.
But she said she was able to break away, stand up, and tell him, "Tom, I do not want to do this with you," adding that she had just been promoted as foreign correspondent in London and "didn't want to go down that road."
According to Vester, Brokaw responded, "I guess I should go," got up, and tried to kiss her again on the way out. She also alleges Brokaw grabbed her from behind in a conference room and tickled her waist in front of colleagues, humiliating her.
In his Friday morning email to colleagues, Brokaw shared his version of events, describing Vester as an eager beginner prone to setting up informal meetings with him. While he regrets agreeing to meet at her hotel room, he says it was Vester who was acting provocatively. He also said that while he may have tried to give a Vester a goodbye kiss on the cheek, it was by the door to the room, and he did not clench her neck.
Brokaw concluded his account with a story about how he called Roger Ailes to get Vester her job at Fox.
"I was aware that she became a big fan of Ailes, often praising his considerable broadcasting instincts in public," the newcaster wrote. "But when he got in trouble on sexual matters, not a peep from this woman who now describes her self as the keeper of the flame for #MeToo."
Brokaw did not address the anonymous woman's accusation in his email, nor mention Vester's diary entries.
In an email to employees Friday, chair of NBC News and MSNBC Andy Lack said management takes sexual misconduct allegations "very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate."
He said NBC Universal's internal review sparked by the Lauer allegations is nearing its conclusion, and that executives will have findings and further steps to share as soon as next week.
Vester, who reportedly does not intend to file a legal claim against Brokaw or NBC, said over and over again she told only friends and colleagues but made no official report out of fear that it would derail her career.
Vester's attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that her client has watched "as a number of brave women have come forward to report extreme forms of sexual harassment at NBC."
"She has also observed that the company’s response does not appear to be aimed at producing a safer and more equitable workplace for women," Wilkenfeld said. "She felt it her duty to add her own story, not only to lend support to the other women who have already complained, but to demonstrate that this problem is not a new one, and that NBC needs to prioritize actually listening to and protecting their employees who have been victimized."