Linda Vester, a former NBC News correspondent who accused Tom Brokaw of sexual assault earlier this year, is calling on the Comcast board of directors to do a thorough investigation of harassment at NBC.
Vester took out an ad in Thursday’s New York Times, calling on the board to end non-disclosure agreements and forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases. Thursday is the one-year anniversary of Matt Lauer’s firing from “The Today Show” for sexual misconduct.
“The women who speak to me say the climate of fear is worse than ever, the silencing is worse than ever,” Vester told Variety on Wednesday. “NBC News management should not be allowed to get away with this any further.”
NBC conducted an internal probe in the wake of the firing, which found that senior executives were unaware of any complaints about Lauer. Critics blasted the investigation because it was conducted in-house, and investigators did not talk to several of Lauer’s alleged victims.
Vester says that NBC also failed to examine complaints against other high-ranking executives, calling the result a “whitewash.”
“It’s a call for the grownups in the room to take over,” she said. “The Comcast board are directors of a publicly traded company. They need to get involved. They need to call for outside investigators to come in. It appears that somebody has been covering it up, and it’s up to them to determine who it is.”
In April, Vester alleged that Brokaw had twice tried to forcibly kiss her, groped her in a conference room, and once showed up at her hotel room uninvited. Brokaw denied the allegations.
Vester is launching a non-profit, the Silence Breakers Alliance, to offer advice and support to women experiencing harassment, and to work with other non-profits to improve corporate culture.
“The reason I can speak is I’m not under an NDA, and they can’t ruin my career,” Vester said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom. They can’t fire me.”