Pressure mounts on NBC amid new sex harassment claims

Tom Brokaw is the latest top newsman to face allegations of sexual misconduct

New York (AFP) – US television news giant NBC came under growing pressure Friday to take tougher action against sexual harassment after another former star was accused of inappropriate conduct by former colleagues.

Linda Vester — a war correspondent for the network in the 1990s, who today runs a website for mothers — came forward to accuse legendary newsman 78-year-old Tom Brokaw, who hosted “NBC Nightly News” for 22 years.

She told The Washington Post and Variety magazine that Brokaw, 26 years her elder, forcibly tried to kiss her twice in 1994 and 1995, while he was NBC’s star anchor.

Brokaw says only that he met Vester twice, “both at her request” because she wanted career advice.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Another woman, a 24-year-old production assistant at the time, has also accused Brokaw of sexual harassment dating back to the same period, allegations he also denied.

US television networks have been rocked by a series of accusations as the United States grapples with the cultural shift of the #MeToo movement.

NBC sacked Matt Lauer, the host of its flagship “Today” program last November. CBS News fired Charlie Rose a few days earlier and Fox News dropped Bill O’Reilly in 2017.

Lauer was the biggest media scalp so far in the US watershed on sexual misconduct, and criticism has mounted against NBC for allegedly not doing enough to counter what some have called a culture of harassment.

“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 was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.