It is unfortunate that 64 women have signed a letter supporting Tom Brokow, the NBC television journalist who was accused of sexual harassment by two women this week.
The thrust of the letter, signed by Rachel Maddow, Maria Schriver and Andrea Mitchell, is that Brokaw was respectful to them so he can’t possibly be a bully and a cad to anyone else.
You would think they would know better.
News flash -> Some sexual harassers are nice guys to everyone but the unfortunate women they target.
Sexual harassers often go after vulnerable women in an organization and exploit what they perceive as a weakness.
Former NBC News anchor Linda Veters said Brokaw targeted her in the mid-1990s in New York and London, when she was 28 and one of the youngest correspondents at the network. Veters was attractive and ambitious and Brokaw was the most powerful man at NBC news.
Veters told Variety that Brokaw physically tried to force her to kiss him on two separate occasions, groped her in a NBC conference room and showed up at her hotel room uninvited. At the time, Veters told two friends of her plight and they have corroborated her story. She also produced evidence – her journal entries from that time period.
A second woman, a former production assistant who wished to remain anonymous, alleged that Brokaw put her hands on his chest and invited her back to his office for career advice when she was in her 20s.
Meanwhile, NBCNews had a demonstrably dysfunctional culture. Former Today Show anchor Ann Curry said she told management in 2012 that co-anchor Matt Lauer was sexually harassing subordinates. He was fired last November. (Lauer was reportedly nice to Katie Curic and Savannah Guthrie)
Whether or not Veters is telling the truth – and the evidence indicates that she is – it is nothing short of pathetic that powerful, intelligent women like Rachael Maddow, Maria Schriver and Andrea Mitchell are participating in an effort to that publicly undermines Brokaw’s alleged victims.
This isn’t just about the legend of Tom Brokaw. It is also about two women who were placed in fear of losing their jobs and suffered anguish, pain, and humiliation.
There are many, many examples of nice guys who are sexual abusers.
- Some people thought actor Bill Cosby was a nice guy. Not the jury that recently convicted him of sexual assault or the 60 women who say that he drugged and assaulted them.
- Actress Meryl Streep said Harvey Weinstein “was respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally.” So what?
- Ben Affleck is handsome, talented and affable but that doesn’t mean he didn’t grope Hiilarie Burton.
- I personally admire former U.S. Sen. Al Franken. He is likeable, funny, sensitive and I like his politics. But who can forget the photo of him lunging at the breasts of sleeping Leean Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio news anchor. Moreover, three other women claimed he sexually assaulted them.
- Former President George H.W. Bush was awarded the Medal of Freedom but that didn’t stop him from groping actress Heather Lind’s behind when she posed for a picture with him.
Part of the problem that women face in the workplace is other women.
Maddow, Mitchell and Schriver are powerful and established in a competitive industry. Perhaps they were incredibly lucky and became successful without being sexually targeted by a powerful man. Maybe Tom Brokaw helped them along the way without forcing them to kiss him. But why do they have trouble imaging that this is not the case for all woman?