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Late last week, the Washington Post uncovered two sexual harassment accusations against NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw. Brokaw, easily one of NBC’s most famous and celebrated journalists in the news network’s history, has since received a letter of support from 64 women who currently or previously worked with him.
But Page Six alleges that some NBC staff members felt pressured to sign the letter in order to protect their careers.
“We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw,” one anonymous NBC News staff member reportedly told Page Six. “We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers. The letter was being handed around the office and the unspoken threat was that if your name was not on it, there would be some repercussion down the road.”
The letter, which includes signatures from Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, is allegedly being watched by NBC executives as “the network’s reputation is tied to Brokaw” and “if more women come forward, that’s a big problem,” the NBC staffer told Page Six.
Another staff member reportedly feared the letter would silence women in the future. By bringing dozens of female journalists together into a unified front to support Brokaw, that staffer claimed, the support letter essentially pits women against one another.
“When you have over 100 women like Andrea Mitchell signing a letter of support without knowing the facts, it’s pretty scary,” the second NBC staffer reportedly told Page Six. “The letter will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward.”
Honest question, how does "Tom Brokaw has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed our successes throughout our careers" disprove "Tom Brokaw forced himself on someone else" https://t.co/MZdNJkwVSU— Shuja Haider (@shujaxhaider) April 28, 2018
Quick trip down memory lane: when accusations broke that Ailes had sexually harassed Gretchen Carlson, Ailes had Fox News women speak out for him en masse. A reminder that just because you were not a victim, doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. https://t.co/gk6os0QSRt— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) April 28, 2018
Yeah. As much as I hate seeing someone like Brokaw go down, and as much as I respect many of the women who signed that letter, I absolutely hate folks who have zero direct knowledge of what has occurred taking sides like this. Really unseemly, imho.— Libration (@JohnPaceWrites) April 28, 2018
Are these women trying to negate claims against Brokaw and consequently NBC and MSNBC? If so, they have done women a great disservice. Their voices supporting a man accused of sexual harassment diminishes all women and makes my five daughters more vulnerable to future harassment.— Cliff Potter (@cliffpotter) April 28, 2018
As I said with Bill O’Reilly, Trump, Roy Moore, Cosby, Lauer, Halperin, Weinstein, etc, the default position should be to believe the women. The same thing must be applied to Tom Brokaw. Believe the women.— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) April 27, 2018
Not every female journalist at NBC was necessarily on board for the letter-signing, however. Morning anchor Megyn Kelly used the outpouring of support toward Brokaw to open up about her own accusations against Fox News’ Roger Ailes, stressing that women taking Brokaw’s side “don’t know what you don’t know.”
“We saw it at Fox News,” Kelly said, Page Six reports. “We saw these women come out [in support] and I remember thinking, ‘You’re wrong. It happened to me, your statements are wrong and you’re gonna be proven wrong.'”
NBC’s handle on the Brokaw accusations raises larger questions about how the American news corporation handles hostile workplace allegations. Former Today anchor Matt Lauer was fired from his post late last year after years of alleged sexual harassment went unaddressed, and one staff member for Megyn Kelly Today even claimed her show’s producers create a “toxic” work environment fueled by “narcissism.”
In other words, if NBC really is coming out in full force protect its “golden boy,” then the news corporation may have a much bigger problem internally than just Brokaw.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.