NBC News Female Staffers 'Felt Forced' Signing Letter Supporting Tom Brokaw Against Sexual Assault Allegations

Were female staffers at NBC News pressured into signing a letter defending Tom Brokaw against [...]

Were female staffers at NBC News pressured into signing a letter defending Tom Brokaw against sexual harassment allegations?

Page Six reports that some women at NBC News are complaining that they felt there could be professional repercussions if they did not sign the pledge of loyalty to Brokaw that more than 115 women signed.

The letter came after former colleague Linda Vester claimed he "groped and assaulted" her in the '90s and after an anonymous assistant alleged he had made unwanted advances.

Names like Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell and Maria Shriver all signed the letter backing Brokaw, which said the legendary anchor was "a man of tremendous decency and integrity."

"We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw. We had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers," one NBC News staffer told Page Six. "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. 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."

Another staffer said the big names attached to the letter could intimidate other possible victims to step forward.

"When you have over 100 women like Andrea Mitchell signing a letter of support without knowing the facts, it's pretty scary," the insider said. "The letter will have a chilling effect on other women coming forward."

NBC denies coordinating the effort, with a rep for the network telling Page Six that "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 ... Management has played absolutely no role whatsoever."

However, Page Six reports that the letter was coordinated by Goldman executive Liz Bowyer, who is also reportedly a producer for Browkaw's NBC documentary unit.

Megyn Kelly cautioned her colleagues during Megan Kelly Today on Monday that there could be more to the story than what is currently making headlines.

"The same thing did happen at Fox," Kelly said, referring those who defended Roger Ailes. "And the truth is, you don't know what you don't know, and that's not in any way to impugn Tom, who I love and who's been so good to me. Just saying, you don't now what you don't know."

Kelly continued, "What happens behind closed doors… we saw it at Fox News. We saw these women come out [in support] and I remember thinking, 'You're wrong. It happened to me, your statements are wrong and you're gonna be proven wrong.'"

However, Kelly did note, "I don't feel that here… I love Tom," but she added, "I think [support] letters like that can be dicey."

Brokaw has been accused by ex-NBC reporter Vester of trying to forcefully kiss her on at least two occasion in the 1990s while she worked at the network, Variety reported last week.

Vester told Variety that during a meeting: "He leaned over, and pressed a finger to my lips. He said, "This is our compact." He grabbed me behind my neck and tried to force me to kiss him. I was shocked to feel the amount of force and his full strength on me. I could smell alcohol on his breath, but he was totally sober. He spoke clearly. He was in control of his faculties.

"I broke away and stood up and said, 'Tom, I do not want to do this with you. If I did, I would leave for London with a loss of innocence and I don't want to go down that road.' I had just been promoted to foreign correspondent in the London bureau."

Vester also alleged that Brokaw groped her in an NBC conference room and presented himself at her hotel room.

Brokaw has vehemently denied the allegations, saying: "I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC. The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other."

Brokaw wrote in an email to former colleagues: "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."