Tom Brokaw rips 'sensational' accuser claims: I was 'ambushed and then perp walked'

Tom Brokaw, the NBC News anchor who has served as a distinguished anchor emeritus since stepping down as anchor of Nightly News in 2004, penned a blistering rebuttal to accusations that he subjected an underling to unwanted advances in the 1990s when he was the network’s biggest star and she was a 28-year-old just starting out in network news.

In an email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter and sent to a handful of NBC News colleagues, Brokaw, 78, strenuously denies the detailed account of Linda Vester. "I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life," Brokaw wrote. 

The NBC News fixture, who joined the network in 1966 and anchored Nightly for 22 years, was accused by Vester and a second anonymous woman of harassment in a Washington Post storypublished on Thursday. Vester also spoke in a video interview with Variety. Brokaw, through NBC, issued a statement of denial to both publications.

Brokaw has been a special correspondent for NBC News. Colleagues there said he was not scheduled to be in the office on Friday. But it's unclear how NBC News will respond to the allegations. The company is nearing the end of an investigation set off by the toppling of Matt Lauer. 

See photos of Tom Brokaw:

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Tom Brokaw throughout his career
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Tom Brokaw throughout his career
News Anchor Tom Brokaw (Photo by � Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News' Gene Shalit, Jane Pauley, Tom Brokaw in 1977 -- Photo by: NBC/NBC NewsWire
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS WITH TOM BROKAW -- Pictured: NBC News' Tom Brokaw -- Photo by: Ken Regan/NBC/NBC NewsWire
NBC News -- Pictured: Anchor Tom Brokaw (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: NBC News' Tom Brokaw in March 1978 -- Photo by: NBC/NBC NewsWire
TODAY -- Pictured: NBC News' Tom Brokaw in 1980 -- Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBC NewsWire
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News' Gene Shalit, Jane Pauley, Tom Brokaw in 1980 -- Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBC NewsWire
TODAY -- 'Royal Wedding: Prince Charles & Diana Spencer' -- Pictured: NBC News' Tom Brokaw -- Photo by: NBC/NBC NewsWire
NEW YORK CITY - MAY 6: Journalist Tom Brokaw and wife Meredith Auld attend Who Owns News Debate on May 6, 1987 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
American broadcast journalist and television news anchorman Tom Brokaw, prepares for evening broadcast of the NBC Nightly News in the newsroom, New York, New York, October 29, 1987. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
NBC NEWS SPECIAL- A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE WHITE HOUSE -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News' Tom Brokaw, White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater at the White House in Washington, D.C. on February 27, 1990 -- (Photo by: NBC News/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TV journalist Tom Brokaw interviewing US troops in Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Diana Walker//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 11: Anchorman Tom Brokaw on the set of NBC Nightly News. (Photo by Mitsu Yasukawa/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 01: NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw at NBC studios in Rockefeller Center. His latest book, 'A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland,' will be released next week. (Photo by Thomas Monaster/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Tom Brokaw speaking at 'Concert for America' at the Kennedy Center in washington, DC, September 9, 2002. The show airs on NBC on Wednesday, September 11. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.
Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather during The Museum of Television & Radio To Honor Tom Brokaw at Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JULY 10: Tom Brokaw, anchor and managing editor of 'NBC Nightly News,' speaks with the press at the 2004 TCA Summer Press Tour at the Century Plaza Hotel on June 10, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 25: In this handout image provided by NBC News, anchorman Tom Brokaw (L) speaks with NBC News' Tim Russert on 'Meet the Press' from the Democratic National Convention at the Fleet Center July 25, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. The convention will be held July 26 through to July 29. (Photo by Lisa Berg/NBC News via Getty Images)
Tom Brokaw during New York Premiere of THX-1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut - Cocktail Party at Guggenheim Museum in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Tom Brokaw during Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Simon Perform One Night Only: A Concert For Autism Speaks at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
GREENWICH, CT - NOVEMBER 11: Tom Brokaw attends AUDUBON CONNECTICUT Fall Dinner Dance Honoring Dan W. Lufkin at The Belle Haven Club on November 11, 2006 in Greenwich, CT. (Photo by Scott Rudd/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 14: News anchor Tom Brokaw arrives at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 14, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 15: Host, Journalist Tom Brokaw speaks for the television show '1968 with Tom Brokaw' during the NBC Univesal Cable portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel July 15, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: (AFP OUT) Moderator Tom Brokaw interviews former president Bill Clinton during a taping of Meet the Press September 25, 2008 in New York City. They discussed the 2008 presidential campaign, the Wall Street financial crisis and the Clinton Global Initiative. (Photo by Marvi Lacar/Reportage by Getty Images for Meet the Press)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07: Debate moderator Tom Brokaw talks prior to the Town Hall Presidential Debate at Belmont University's Curb Event Center October 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tonight's debate is the second presidential debate of three, the only one being held in the town hall style with questions coming from audience members. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07: Moderator Tom Brokaw of NBC takes the stage for the the Town Hall Presidential Debate between Obama and McCain at Belmont University's Curb Event Center October 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tonight's debate is the second presidential debate of three, the only one being held in the town hall style with questions coming from audience members. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Journalist Tom Brokaw moderates the panel discussion at the Characters Unite National Town Hall at the NEWSEUM on December 2, 2009 in Washington, DC.
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O?BRIEN -- Episode 138 -- Pictured: Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw during an interview on January 12, 2010 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
MEET THE PRESS -- Airdate 01/03/2010 --Pictured: Tom Brokaw, NBC News, left, and moderator David Gregory, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday January 3, 2010. (Photo by William B. Plowman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Tom Brokaw, former news anchor with NBC Television Network, arrives at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Media moguls at Allen & Co.'s annual conference, usually on the prowl for the next big deal, are paying more attention to small screens as they confront rapidly shifting consumer tastes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: NBC News Tom Brokaw speaks to the audience at the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum at The Newseum on October 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Tom Brokaw promotes 'The Time of Our Lives' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on November 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Tom Brokaw promotes 'The Time of Our Lives' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on November 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: Tom Brokaw attends The Paley Center For Media Presents: The Music And Life Of Marvin Hamlisch at Paley Center For Media on March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) ? Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 21, 2013. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Tom Brokaw appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw and Meredith Brokaw appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NBC NEWS - EDUCATION NATION -- 2013 Education Nation Summit -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent for NBC News, and Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. -- (Photo by: Rob Kim/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0260 -- Pictured: Journalist Tom Brokaw on May 11, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Tom Brokaw appears at Miami Book Fair 2015 to promote his book at Miami Dade College on November 18, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent, left, and Doris Kearns-Goodwin, American Biographer, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday Sept. 6, 2015. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
SIMI VALLEY, CA - MARCH 11: Tom Brokaw speaks at the funeral of former First Lady Nancy Reagan at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library March 11, 2016 in Simi Valley, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brokaw attends the 2017 American Songbook Gala at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Tom Brokaw attends the 'Five Came Back' world premiere at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on March 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Eliana Johnson, National Political Reporter, POLITICO and Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent, NBC News, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 26, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0612 -- Pictured: (l-r) NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw with host Jimmy Fallon on January 27, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Tom Brokaw on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Actress Meryl Streep and Journalist and News Anchor Tom Brokaw attend The 2017 Rescue Dinner hosted by IRC at New York Hilton Midtown on November 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for IRC)
NEW YORK, NY - November 15: Tom Brokaw attends the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Double Helix Medals Dinner at the American Museum of Natural History Street on November 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent, and Peggy Noonan Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - November 15: Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw attend the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Double Helix Medals Dinner at the American Museum of Natural History Street on November 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
IOWA CITY, IOWA- JANUARY 23: Broadcaster Tom Brokaw waves as he is recognized during the match-up between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers on January 23, 2018 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Tom Brokaw on Friday, April 6, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBC NEWS - SPECIALS -- 'NBC News 2018 State of the Union Coverage' -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Brokaw, Megyn Kelly -- (Photo by: Paul Morigi/NBC News/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Tom Brokaw on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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"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," the anchor, currently a special correspondent at the network, stated in his email to colleagues. 

Brokaw's email is published in full below: 

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.

I am angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career, a mix of written and broadcast journalism, philanthropy and participation in environmental and social causes that have always given extra meaning to my life.

Instead 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.

Linda Vester was given the run of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission (you read that right), that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in general was given a free hand to try to destroy all that I have achieved with my family, my NBC career, my writing and my citizenship.

My family and friends are stunned and supportive. My NBC colleagues are bewildered that Vester, who had limited success at NBC News, a modest career at Fox and a reputation as a colleague who had trouble with the truth was suddenly the keeper of the flame of journalistic integrity.

Her big charge: that on two occasions more than 20 years ago I made inappropriate and uninvited appearances in her apartment and in a hotel room. As an eager beginner, Vester, like others in that category, was eager for advice and camaraderie with senior colleagues. 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.

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She was coy, not frightened, filled with office gossip including a recent rumor of an affair. As that discussion advanced she often reminded me she was a Catholic and that she was uncomfortable with my presence. So I left, 23 years later to be stunned by her melodramatic description of the meeting. A year or so later, as I passed through London after covering end of WWII ceremonies in Moscow, I saw her in the office, chatted and agreed to a drink later. (If NY was so traumatic, why a reunion?)  She knew a bar but by that late hour it was closed so she suggested her nearby apartment (not, “Well, no where to go. See you tomorrow").

Again, her hospitality was straight forward with lots of pride in her reporting in the Congo and more questions about NY opportunities.

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. 

She came to NY and had mixed success on the overnight news. As I remember her try out on TODAY did not go well. Her contract was not renewed.

Here is a part of her story she somehow left out. I think I saw her in the hallways and asked how it was going. She was interested in cable start up and I said I didn’t think that was going anywhere. What about Fox, which was just building up? She was interested and followed me to my office where, while she listened in, I called Roger Ailes. He said, “send her over.”

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.

I am not a perfect person. I’ve made mistakes, personally and professionally. But as 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. 

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.

I deeply resent the pain and anger she inflicted on my wife, daughters and granddaughters - all women of considerable success and passion about women’s rights which they personify in their daily lives and professions. We’ll go on as a family that pursues social justice in medical emergency rooms, corporate offices, social therapy, African women’s empowerment and journalism. And no one woman’s assault can take that away.

I am proud of who I am as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen. Vester, the Washington Post and Variety cannot diminish that. But in this one woman piece of sensational claims they are trying.

Tom Brokaw

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