Around noon Friday, NBC News’s Tom Brokaw responded via email to an interview request from the Erik Wemple Blog regarding allegations against him in The Post and Variety.

“I will have more to say later.” He got that right.

In an email to colleagues obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Brokaw attacked. And attacked. And then attacked a bit more.

The target? Linda Vester, a former colleague at NBC News who told The Post and Variety that Brokaw had sexually assaulted her in 1994; that he had “tickled” her around the waist at the Denver bureau of NBC News; and that he’d made an advance in London, as well. The exposé left Brokaw feeling bruised: “It is 4:00 am on the first day of my new life as an accused predator in the universe of American journalism. I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship,” he wrote.


On the factual front, Brokaw claimed that he didn’t, as alleged by Vester, grab her neck on a hotel sofa in an attempt to kiss her:

As I remember, she was at one end of a sofa, I was at the other. It was late and I had been up for 24 hours. As I got up to leave I may have leaned over for a perfunctory goodnight kiss, but my memory is that it happened at the door — on the cheek. No clenching her neck. That move she so vividly describes is NOT WHO I AM. Not in high school, college or thereafter.

There’s also a dismissal of the notion that in a New York hotel room, Brokaw actually stated his goal: “an affair of more than passing affection.” Challenging that charge, Brokaw wrote, “She often sought me out for informal meetings, including the one she describes in her New York hotel room. I should not have gone but I emphatically did not verbally and physically attack her and suggest an affair in language right out of pulp fiction.”

And on the ad feminam attack front, Brokaw wrote prolifically. Some examples:

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. She has unleashed a torrent of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me more than twenty years after I opened the door for her and a new job at Fox News.


As a private citizen who married a wealthy man, she has been active in social causes but she came to Me:Too late, portraying herself as a den mother. In the intervening years since we met on those two occasions, she had no reason to worry I could affect her career.
Some of her relatives by marriage are very close friends. She couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “I’d like to talk. I have issues from those two meetings 20 years ago?” Instead she became a character assassin. Strip away all of the hyperbole and what has she achieved? What was her goal? Hard to believe it wasn’t much more Look At Me than Me:Too.

After claiming that he helped Vester land a job at Fox News by appealing to then-boss Roger Ailes, Brokaw writes:

She got the job. I never heard from her or saw her again. I was aware that she became a big fan of Ailes, often praising his considerable broadcasting instincts in public. 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 Me:Too.


[A]s I write this at dawn on the morning after a drive by shooting by Vester, the Washington Post and Variety, I am stunned by the free ride given a woman with a grudge against NBC News, no distinctive credentials or issue passions while at FOX.

For a fellow who has spent upward of a half-century in this business, Brokaw should know by now what a dicey pursuit it is to speculate about another individual’s motivations. Yet in this broadside, Brokaw does quite a bit of it, to the detriment of his own legacy.

There’ll be no attempt to referee the factual issues at hand here. What we can do, however, is assess the attempt by Brokaw to impugn his accuser’s motives and credibility. That is unpersuasive.

UPDATE: NBC News Chairman Andy Lack has written a memo to colleagues on these recent events: