Longtime NBC News anchor and TV journalism legend Tom Brokaw lashed back at a former NBC colleague who accused hm of sexual harassment last week, calling allegations by Linda Vester “a drive by shooting” and said in a letter that he felt as if he had been “taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement [he] had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship.”
But Brokaw’s angry response to Vester’s allegation that he sexually “groped and assaulted” her in the early 1990s appears to have backfired on him — causing a third woman to come forward on Tuesday with new allegations of sexual misconduct against Brokaw.
Mary Reinholz, a New York City-based freelance writer, said in a first-person article for The Villager — a 75-year-old neighborhood newspaper covering Manhattan’s Greenwich Village — that Brokaw made an unwanted advance on her 50 years ago when she was a young journalist in Los Angeles and the then-28-year-old Brokaw assisted her with a story she was researching.
In The Villager article headlined “Tom Brokaw hit on #MeToo when I was a young reporter,” Reinholz says that Brokaw forcibly attempted to “French kiss” her when he visited her “cottage” in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. Brokaw was a local television news reporter at the time, and he and Reinholz had met at press functions, according to her article.
“I clearly recall his driving a motor scooter and sitting next to me on my mother’s sofa in the living room,” Reinholz wrote. “We talked and then, abruptly, he was embracing me and giving me a French kiss. I pulled away, reminding him that he was married and a tryst was out of the question. He said, ‘Yes, it would be unfair to Meredith,’ meaning his wife.”
Brokaw married Meredith Lynn Auld in 1962 and the couple remains married today. They have three daughters.
Reinholz says that at the time, in 1968, she “shrugged off” the incident, a reaction she said was typical of “progressive women” in that era.
“After all, we were overthrowing the sedate 1950s and its dictates that good girls should never engage in premarital sex. I had been married but wasn’t interested in Brokaw as a sex partner and the situation made me uncomfortable.”
Nonetheless, Reinholz says that she “liked” Brokaw and briefly made contact with him again after she relocated to New York in the early 1970s. By that time, Brokaw’s career had taken off and he was about to be named the NBC News White House correspondent. Reinholz wrote that he was “polite” to her but after one professional encounter, “I never saw him again,” which Reinholz says neither bothered nor surprised her.
But Reinholz said that it was Brokaw’s brusque and indignant attack on Vester that inspired her to publicly revisit her “uncomfortable” incident with Brokaw for the first time.
“I wouldn’t be writing this account if it wasn’t for the #MeToo movement and Brokaw’s disparaging remarks about Linda Vester,” she wrote, also referencing a second woman who was not named publicly but also said that Brokaw behaved inappropriately toward her — another incident that Brokaw denied, according to the Washington Post report that broke the story of the allegations against the Greatest Generation author.
“Why would the two women lie? Money does not appear to be Vester’s motivation,” Reinholz wrote. “She reportedly has said she doesn’t want to file a lawsuit and only wants to shed light on the sexist work culture at NBC News. I believe her story is credible.”
More than 60 current and former female employees of NBC News, including MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell, signed a letter last week supporting Brokaw. But on Monday, the New York Post reported that some of the women reported that they felt “forced” to sign the letter.
“We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers,” one staffer who spoke anonymously to the Post claimed. “Execs are watching to see who signed and who didn’t. This was all about coming out in force to protect NBC’s golden boy. The network’s reputation is tied to Brokaw.”