Linda Vester: Cover-Up Continues at NBC News, Lauer Was ‘Dangerous’

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Even though the initial wave of #MeToo scandals have come and gone with new and shocking allegations continuing to arise, many of the early scandals continue to have an impact on those involved in the sexual harassment allegations that arose in 2017. Perhaps most notably were the multiple chapters involving allegations of sexual misconduct against NBC News's Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, and claims they attempted to discourage the reporting of Ronan Farrow.

Within the stories concerning the scandal-ridden NBC was Linda Vester, a former war correspondent, who came forward in April 2018 to accuse former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw of sexual misconduct.

Speaking with Fox News Channel host Shannon Bream on Wednesday’s Fox News @ Night, Vester stated that the internal investigation by NBC News “was not honest” while remaining a “cover-up” protecting “dangerous” people like former anchor Matt Lauer.

 

 

Bream asked whether the network’s internal investigation could “actually clear the air” and “give enough transparency” to the women caught up in the crisis and so Vester replied (click “expand”):

I think Ronan Farrow’s meticulous reporting is showing that NBC was not honest when it conducted its own internal investigation of sexual misconduct. In fact, they just really didn’t get to the bottom of it at all....[I]t seems that cover-up continues at NBC News. It’s really hard to get the truth out when the company itself is hiring internal or having an internal investigation instead of outside independent investigators really able to get to the bottom of things and I think that’s an inherent problem that has to stop at NBC News. It has to stop in Comcast — the parent company of NBC — has to now finally launch a real investigation...And I think it’s time for us to get the answers, so that women at NBC News can be safe. So, Comcast, the parent company should launch a real investigation with outside investigators right away.

On Lauer specifically, Vester asserted that, “from having worked at NBC News for nearly a decade, everybody knew. We all knew Matt was dangerous, that he had to be avoided at all costs. So, for NBC executives to say they didn’t know, I have a hard time with that.”

Bream made sure to be fair and note that NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has claimed the sexual allegations are “false” and “being misconstrued.”

The host added that Lauer wrote in a lengthy open letter that these accusations are “old stories” that are “being recycled,” and “titillating details” have been added while “dangerous and defamatory new allegations are being made."

The Fox News host then asked the Silence Breakers Alliance founder what she could say about her personal experience since Lauer “has admitted to doing things he’s ashamed of,” such as “having extra-marital affairs, that kind of thing. Did you see something more than that?”

“No,” the guest replied, “but there’s a problem with abuse of power at NBC News -- where people like Matt Lauer, people like Tom Brokaw, they are enabled day after day by having so much power over women.”

“After enough power and enough enabling, they start to think that they can get away with anything, including coercing women into doing something they don’t want to do,” Vester stated.

She continued: “[I]t’s entirely possible that women had neutral or positive professional relationships with Matt or Tom, but I think it’s important to note that the predators hide their behavior.”

As a result, Vester demanded NBC executives “have to let people out of their non-disclosure agreements so they could speak openly, because women deserve honest -- the honest truth and they deserve a safe working environment.”

Click “expand” to see the transcript of the segment.

FNC’s Fox News @ Night
October 16, 2019
11:51 p.m. Eastern

SHANNON BREAM: My next guest, no stranger to Matt Lauer. She’s a former war correspondent who decided to go public with her own claims of sexual harassment against NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Linda Vester, Founder of the Silence Breakers Alliance — it’s a foundation working towards ending workplace harassment. And Linda, folks will recognize you from your years at Fox as well, welcome back.

LINDA VESTER: Thank you very much. I appreciate you having me.

BREAM: So, let’s — talk about your experience. Because listen, years ago, I served as a sexual-harassment attorney, I defended companies, I know what it’s like to do internal investigations. There are now a lot of questions about whether that can actually clear the air, give enough transparency for people, you know, to believe that when their claims, when they make that step as you didn’t come forward that they’re going to be treated completely neutrally.

VESTER: Well, I think Ronan Farrow’s meticulous reporting is showing that NBC was not honest when it conducted its own internal investigation of sexual misconduct. In fact, they just really didn’t get to the bottom of it at all. They didn’t interview enough women and we don’t have the truth yet and it seems that cover-up continues at NBC News. It’s really hard to get the truth out when the company itself is hiring internal or having an internal investigation instead of outside independent investigators really able to get to the bottom of things and I think that’s an inherent problem that has to stop at NBC News. It has to stop in Comcast — the parent company of NBC — has to now finally launch a real investigation because Ronan is reporting among other things that NBC, apparently, did know that Matt was a problem and let me tell you from having worked at NBC News for nearly a decade, everybody knew. We all knew Matt was dangerous, that he had to be avoided at all costs. So, for NBC executives to say they didn’t know, I have a hard time with that. And I think it’s time for us to get the answers, so that women at NBC News can be safe. So, Comcast, the parent company should launch a real investigation with outside investigators right away.

BREAM: So, you know, obviously, as Gillian reported and we have as well, Noah Oppenheim, who’s NBC News President says these are false allegations; there are things that are being misconstrued. Matt Lauer wrote a lengthy letter that was quoted in Variety, and he talked about old stories are being recycled, titillating are being added and a dangerous and defamatory new allegations are being made. He says, "It’s all about spreading this as part of a promotional effort to sell a book and it’s outrageous." What can you tell us about your personal experience? I mean, you say that people viewed Lauer as dangerous, was it that? He’s admitted to doing things he’s ashamed of, having extra-marital affairs, that kind of thing, did you see something more than that?

VESTER: No, I didn’t see anything more than that but there’s a problem with abuse of power at NBC News where people like Matt Lauer, people like Tom Brokaw, they are enabled day after day by having so much power over women, in the careers of women and it distorts them, frankly. I mean, I saw it in Tom Brokaw myself. After enough power and enough enabling, they start to think that they can get away with anything including coercing women into doing something they don’t want to do.

BREAM: What was your experience like and that there were a number of women who came forward to defend Tom Brokaw and said he’d only been helpful in their careers. They signed on to a letter. As someone who can forward, is it possible that there are people who were treated differently, women who were treated differently than you were because we see a number of these women who worked closely with Matt Lauer say he was our friend and we never saw this, we weren’t aware of it.

VESTER: Oh, I think it’s entirely possible that women had neutral or positive professional relationships with Matt or Tom, but I think it’s important to note that the predators hide their behavior, they hide a lot and that’s why it’s so important for NBC to really conduct a full investigation is because there’s been so much hiding and instead of executives saying, oh, everything is fine here; we’re going to clean things up. In the future will be fine. They really do have to get answers about what has been going on for years and they have to let women speak openly and they have to let people out of their non-disclosure agreements so they could speak openly, because women deserve honest — the honest truth and they deserve a safe working environment.

BREAM: Yes, we got to leave it there, but we know that transparency and sunlight is the best thing for making all people feel more comfortable and being able to share their expereiences.

VESTER: True.

BREAM: Linda, thank you.

VESTER: Thank you.

Feminism Fox News @ Night Linda Vester Matt Lauer Shannon Bream

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