HLN’s Cupp Rips NBC Women for Backing Brokaw in Company-Forced Letter

Just two days after entertainment magazine Variety published former NBC correspondent Linda Vester’s sexual harassment allegations against NBC legend Tom Brokaw, more than 60 women from the network signed their names to a letter defending his character.

But on Tuesday, it was revealed that NBC had put tremendous pressure on the women to sign the letter. On Unfiltered that evening, host S.E. Cupp ripped into them for rushing to his defense as two additional women have spoken out.

Cupp began by accurately pointing out that the story was going largely underreported by the national media despite the advances of the #MeToo movement. She noted that, in Brokaw’s defense statement, he admitted to possibly trying to kiss his accuser but not in the way she had claimed. “Against the backdrop of our year-long eye-opening national education on sexual harassment, this admission should have been reason enough to approach this story with seriousness and concern,” she argued.

Instead, his colleagues, female colleagues mind you, have inexplicably rushed to his defense. Big mistake,” Cupp declared. She proceeded to call out Brokaw’s female defenders for claiming to know how he acted when many of them didn’t even work for NBC at the time:

Despite their presumed respect for Brokaw, few of his current colleagues were at the network 25 years ago when the behavior was alleged to have occurred. Even fewer were at the NBC News bureau in Denver or London where at least two incidents reportedly occurred, and presumably, none was in Vester's New York City hotel room where she says another incident occurred.

 

 

And yet that hasn't stopped 115 of them, including big names like Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, and Maria Shriver from signing a letter attesting to he ‘tremendous decency’ and ‘integrity,’” she added

Not only had a third accuser come forward, Cupp said, but a report in the New York Post suggested the network pressured the women into signing the letter. “We felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw, we had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers,” she read from the report. “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 came forward, that's a big problem.

The lesson here is, as much as you think you may know someone, you never really know them fully and unless you were there, you actually don't know anything,” Cupp declared. “Who would feel comfortable coming forward about sexual harassment allegations now? Rushing to the defense of an accused sexual harasser is just as bad as rushing to condemn one.

After Cupp shifted to the panel discussion, conservative commentator and Washington Examiner writer T. Becket Adams recalled that something similar happened with former Democratic Senator Al Franken (MN) when his former comedy buddies stuck up for him, but he was ultimately forced to resign.

The difference though, that makes this I would say possibly far worse for NBC, is that the women who signed this letter, their job is literally to ask the uncomfortable questions and to hold the powerful to account,” he stated. “They weren't interested in getting to the bottom of this.

Between NBC squashing the Harvey Weinstein story, the allegations against Matt Lauer, and now the allegations against Tom Brokaw, it’s becoming clear that the network might have a serious problem with their culture surrounding sexual misconduct.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read: 

 

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HLN
S.E. Cupp Unfiltered
May 1, 2018
5:45:52 PM Eastern

S.E. CUPP: One story is quietly slipping under the radar. Allegations of sexual harassment against one of America's most powerful and respected television anchors, Tom Brokaw. Former colleague Linda Vester has claimed Brokaw groped and assaulted her in the '90s. An unnamed former assistant has also alleged Brokaw made unwanted advances. Vester has provided journals to Variety, which she says backs up her account.

At first, Brokaw indignantly denied the claim, likening these claims to a drive-by shooting and dismissing Vester as merely a “former colleague who had left NBC News angry that she failed in her pursuit of stardom.” Quote: “I made no romantic overtures toward her at the time or any other time.” He wrote. But in that same statement, he goes on to contradict himself. "As I remember, she was at one end of the 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 good night kiss but my memory is that it happened on the door, on the cheek."

Against the backdrop of our year-long eye-opening national education on sexual harassment, this admission should have been reason enough to approach this story with seriousness and concern. Instead, his colleagues, female colleagues mind you, have inexplicably rushed to his defense. Big mistake.

Despite their presumed respect for Brokaw, few of his current colleagues were at the network 25 years ago when the behavior was alleged to have occurred. Even fewer were at the NBC News bureau in Denver or London where at least two incidents reportedly occurred, and presumably, none was in Vester's New York City hotel room where she says another incident occurred. And yet that hasn't stopped 115 of them, including big names like Rachel Maddow, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, and Maria Shriver from signing a letter attesting to he “tremendous decency” and “integrity.”

Since that letter just today, a third allegation has emerged. This one from a former reporter who says in the late 1960’s that Brokaw forced a kiss on her while he was married. Now, it turns out some female staffers at NBC News are claiming that they felt pressured to sign the Brokaw letter. One anonymously told the New York Post, “we felt forced to sign the letter supporting Brokaw, we had no choice, particularly the lower level staffers.” And, “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 came forward, that's a big problem.”

The lesson here is, as much as you think you may know someone, you never really know them fully and unless you were there, you actually don't know anything. Banding together to sign a letter defending a top veteran newsman is exactly the kind of thing that creates a culture of intimidation. Who would feel comfortable coming forward about sexual harassment allegations now? Rushing to the defense of an accused sexual harasser is just as bad as rushing to condemn one.

(…)

CUPP: Andy, NBC is in the middle of a cultural audit. Shouldn’t be a concern that some of these women have come forward to say they felt pressured to sign this letter and that there's been a directive instructing them-- instructing on-air people on how to frame Brokaw’s side of the story. I mean.

ANDY LEVY: Yeah, both of these things are extraordinarily bad. As far as these women signing the letter, if nothing else, they should have been put off by how Brokaw described Linda Vester in his denial. The whole, former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom thing. That's really close to: “oh she's just a conniving, lying shrew.”

CUPP: There was a lot of personal information that tried to discredit her.

(…)

CUPP: What's the risk to these women—these 115 women, some of them very prominent, who are coming out early to defend someone who may very well be guilty? We don't know yet, that's the point.

T. BECKET ADAMS: I don't want to take the spotlight off of Brokaw. Clearly, that's where everything should be focused. But we saw something similar like this happen with Senator Franken where a bunch of his SNL buddies came out and signed a letter. The difference though, that makes this I would say possibly far worse for NBC, is that the women who signed this letter, their job is literally to ask the uncomfortable questions and to hold the powerful to account. They weren't interested in getting to the bottom of this. They went off from the beginning and said he's isn't, he's our friend. And because he may have acted well around us, that means that he has always acted well around everyone else.

(…)

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