Though over 100 women signed a letter of support for Tom Brokaw amid sexual misconduct allegations, some of the NBC staffers who signed it "felt forced" to do so.
According to Page Six, many of the low-level employees at the network didn't feel as though they had a choice as to whether or not they would sign the show of support, which already touted signatures from the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Rachel Maddow, Maria Shriver and Mika Brzezinski.
"We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw. We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers," a source told the outlet. "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."
"Execs are watching to see who signed and who didn't," the source continued. "This was all about coming out in force to protect NBC's golden boy; the network's reputation is tied to Brokaw...If more women come forward, that's a big problem."
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In addition to pressure from NBC executives to sign, many of the women who wrote their names down didn't want to go against the grain, especially considering the hugely influential names that had already signed the letter out of allegiance to Brokaw -- even without knowing the full story.
"When you have over 100 women like Andrea Mitchell signing a letter of support without knowing the facts, it's pretty scary," another insider explained. "The letter will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward."
Through a representative, NBC denied that executives were pressuring staffers to sign the "grass-roots" letter.
"The letter is a purely grass-roots effort, led by women outside of the company who are motivated by their own support for Tom Brokaw," the statement read. "Management has played absolutely no role whatsoever."
But, as Page Six points out, the letter was spearheaded by Goldman Sachs' Liz Bowyer, who had worked closely with Brokaw as a producer on his documentary unit at NBC.
Additionally, NBC News employees received a memo on Monday outlining how the Brokaw scandal should be covered, noting that all reports should "include relevant portions of Brokaw's denial, his email and the email in support of him."
The controversial letter surfaced over the weekend a couple of days after Linda Vester's account of what she alleges happened with Brokaw was published by Variety. The former NBC employee alleged that the news veteran forcefully tried to kiss her on two separate occasions in the 1990s. Another anonymous former staffer said that Brokaw acted inappropriately with her around the same time, too.
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Though he admitted to meeting with Vester "on two occasions," Brokaw has denied the allegations against him.
"The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations," he said. "I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other."
In another statement, Brokaw's denial became even stronger.
"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 in an email at the end of last week. "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."
"I am not a perfect person. I’ve made mistakes, personally and professionally," he added later. "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."
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