Tom Brokaw, a special correspondent for NBC News and the retired anchor of NBC Nightly News, has been accused of sexual predation by a former NBC correspondent. She told Variety that, in the 1990s, Brokaw tried to force her into kissing him on more than one occasion and groped her in a company conference room.
Brokaw denied the allegations, though her journals from the time appear to corroborate her story.
Brokaw is the latest in a growing number of media influencers who have used their platforms to shape how claims of sexual harassment and assault are viewed by the public to be themselves accused of predation.
His previous comments on the topic have been somewhat dismissive of the #MeToo movement, criticizing the American public’s rush to judgment and the tawdry nature of such reporting.
In a January appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, he complained that there was “no system in place” to deal with such accusations, deriding them as “tabloid fodder.”
My big issue with it is that I think it’s well overdue, frankly, to have the kind of disclosure that we’re seeing, but there has to be some kind of codification. The difference between Harvey Weinstein and Steve Wynn and then other people down at the other end who are getting the same front page treatment, for example, don’t have a chance to speak out, don’t get to confront the people who are accusing them. We’ve got to get some kind of a system in place for dealing with all of this beyond what we’re doing now. It’s all tabloid fodder and it’s — and that’s not good for the country.
A month earlier, after multiple women accused then-Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of unwanted groping and kissing — behavior similar to that of which Brokaw is now accused — the news veteran decried a “rush to judgment” in an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports.
I was so struck by this case particularly because there was on the part of the Democratic Party a determination and kind of a rush, if you will, to have the Senator resign so they didn’t have the burden of trying to defend him as they go forward. But at the same time, there were people who were making accusations against him who did not come forward and identify themselves, and we don’t even know what their objections were.
It does not mean that Al Franken wasn’t guilty of abusing his place, especially with the first woman who came forward with whom he was on a UFO [sic] tour. And there was that very damning picture that we saw. But I do think that the Senate and the institutions of governance and those of us in this business as well have to agree to a kind of codification of what is objectionable and how people should be held responsible for it.
Brokaw then opined that such behavior was “not third-degree murder, this is not a stick-up of some kind in which you can clearly identify a crime.”
“This is a subjective judgment about inappropriate behavior — not on the part of the first woman who came forward, and it took her a while to do that, and he also acknowledged that,” he added. “But at the same time, I do think that the country, and especially the people who sent him to Washington, deserve to have a clearer idea of what is objectionable.”
Brokaw is one of many men whose influential coverage of the 2016 campaign must now be re-evaluated in the context of misconduct allegations.
Mark Halperin, for example, was accused by at least a dozen women of sexual harassment after he had publicly defended Donald Trump against revelations that the then-candidate had been accused to sexual assault, saying, “There’s some troubling things in the piece, but there’s nothing illegal, there’s nothing even kind of like beyond boorish or politically incorrect, which is built into the Donald Trump brand.”
Glenn Thrush, Bill O’Reilly, and Matt Lauer were also all, in various ways, suspended from or forced out of their positions after they were accused of sexual predation.