Linda Vester, who reported Tom Brokaw for sexual misconduct, calls NBC News' internal investigation on harassment "deeply flawed"
Vester: "When you have an internal investigation, when you're talking to the lawyers for the company that signs your paycheck, women can't speak freely, and that was the case here"
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From the May 15 edition of CNN's New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota:
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ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): You were waiting, you were calling for this internal report to come out, and they seemed to be dragging their feet, or at least not responding in a timely fashion. Then you came forward with your accusations against Tom Brokaw, and lo and behold the internal investigation, the internal report came out. Do you feel some sense of satisfaction for having forced the issue?
LINDA VESTER (FORMER NBC NEWS ANCHOR): Well, I think the internal report was deeply flawed. That's a problem because women have contacted me in recent days to say that they did not feel that they could fully speak candidly to the NBC lawyers, and others have contacted me to say that they didn't feel that they were properly interviewed. And when you have an internal investigation, when you're talking to the lawyers for the company that signs your paycheck, women can't speak freely, and that was the case here. And so what NBC really needs to do is hire outside counsel to properly investigate this. They haven't done so. CBS has managed to do so with the sexual harassment issues there. NPR, National Public Radio, did the same thing to signal transparency and willingness. Fox News channel brought in counsel as well. And that shows a transparency and willingness to address problems with sexual misconduct. I don't understand why NBC isn't doing it, but I think it can and it should.
CAMEROTA: So when they say, "We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or Today Show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News division received any complaints about [Matt] Lauer's workplace [behavior] prior to November 27, 2017. All four women who came forward confirmed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer." You find that to be not satisfying.
VESTER: Far from the full truth. And we have a problem with NBC News where we really need to get at the full truth. And it's ironic because this is a news organization that is supposed to be about the truth and free speech. And the problem is they're not making women fully free to speak. So if you're a news organization that's about freedom of speech, you have to let your employees be free to speak as well. And NBC can do it. And I think the workplace will be better if they have the courage to do it.
CAMEROTA: One of the points of criticism that I've heard about you coming forward is, number one, it was a long time ago, it was the mid-90s. So is it possible that he made an overture to you, he hit on you, you rebuffed him, and after that he mended his ways? There were no more recent accusations against Tom Brokaw.
VESTER: Well, I think that doesn't really square with the truth. There is a second woman who is investigated by The Washington Post --
CAMEROTA: But from the same era, mid-90s.
VESTER: Yeah, same era. But does it matter when the harasser assaulted someone? Because it's always true, and it's always relevant. And the fact that that person is still on NBC News and has been put out by NBC News to speak on its platforms about the #MeToo movement and about what should be done about sexual harassment, that makes it relevant today. So let's have the conversation about that. And in the letter of the women who signed that letter of support for Tom Brokaw, they said they endorsed the conversation about the abuse of power in the workplace. That is so germane to what is going on at NBC News. They want to have that conversation, I want to have that conversation. We can all afford to have it. It might be painful. Some painful things might come out, but I think we will all be the better for it.