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Going For Brokaw

Going For Brokaw

Tom. Tom. Tom.

What were you thinking, Mr. Brokaw?

A "perfunctory goodnight kiss"?


Let's back up. The #MeToo movement has been going strong since last year. Many women who were afraid to speak up before about sexual harassment in the workplace are doing so now.

Are they all telling the truth? Probably not. And that's a problem. But most of the well-publicized cases seem to have merit.

And in the past six months a number of powerful media types and politicians have been torpedoed by allegations that they once behaved like pigs around women. 

Harvey Weinstein comes to mind.

So does Bill O’Reilly.

Charlie Rose.

Garrison Keillor.

Matt Lauer.

And Al Franken. In his case there were photos of him playfully groping a sleeping woman on a USO tour. Almost impossible for the glib comedian/senator to wiggle out of that one.

Who am I leaving out? Oh, right, Tom Brokaw.

The beloved 78 year-old NBC newsman who coined - or at least popularized - the term “The Greatest Generation” is just the latest celebrity to find his image tarnished.

If the accusations are untrue, it's terrible. Especially for a retired newsman who enjoys almost universal respect.

Yet last week, Linda Vester, a former NBC foreign correspondent, claimed that when she was 28 and Brokaw was 54, the boyish anchor made unwanted sexual advances toward her on more than one occasion. Now a second accuser - a former production assistant - has come forward with a similar story.

The folksy Brokaw is indignant. So are dozens of women who worked with the anchor and found him to be a perfect gent. He says he's been "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." In a letter defending himself Brokaw charged that Vester "failed in her pursuit of stardom.”

Oh, he does recall one incident involving Ms. Vester. It was perfectly innocent, though.

"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.“

Hey, Tom. I hesitate to point this out, but you shouldn’t kiss a co-worker. Especially when you're the most senior person at the network and she's a newbie.

It’s not professional. It's creepy. And I bet your wife wouldn’t approve.

Oh, and what in the world does it matter HOW many hours you’ve been up? There is never a need for a smooch between colleagues. Even sleepy ones.

Here's the thing. I worked in journalism for 42 years. Three of them overseas. Almost all of my editors were men. Most of them were good bosses - one or two were awful, but they were jerks, not gropers - several were absolutely terrific. I was fond of many of these guys.

But there was no kissing. No touching. Not ever. 

No matter how tired we were after we worked a big story. No matter how tipsy we were after we’d knocked back a few post-deadline drinks. No matter how alone we were on an out-of-town trip.

The fact that Brokaw seems to believe that goodnight kisses are acceptable between professionals is disturbing.

Do yourself a favor, Tom. Stop talking.


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