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Megyn Kelly was joined by NBC News correspondents Stephanie Gosk and Kate Snow on the 9 o’clock hour of Today this morning (April 30) to discuss allegations of sexual misconduct made against veteran NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.
Brokaw has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward former coworker Linda Vester in the 1990s. “Tom Brokaw has, I can’t say strongly enough, vehemently denied these allegations,” Snow said before summarizing a sharply worded letter Brokaw wrote to his colleagues.
Kelly pointed out the significance of Brokaw denying the allegations instead of apologizing for his actions. “Not in every case does the man come out and forcibly deny it,” she said of other allegations that have been made against high-profile figures over the past few months. “In fact, we’ve seen in some of the cases the men have said, ‘I screwed up. I’m not a perfect person. I made mistakes.’ ”
Snow added that Brokaw’s letter stated that he “is not a perfect person.”
Kelly said that despite Brokaw’s denial, “[Vester] said she has contemporaneous journal notes and a friend to whom she reported it.” But Snow pointed out that NBC has not been able to speak to this friend or see the journal entries.
The trio then shifted to considering sexual harassment and assault allegations, like the many that have been leveled over the past few months, more broadly.
“I think this is a good point to remind people that in this MeToo movement you have this umbrella of allegations that fall within it,” said Gosk. “It’s a reminder for everyone, as you sit here and try to go through all of this and come up with your own opinion on it, each case is different and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
Kelly added, “Back during the presidential race, Hillary Clinton came out and said, ‘Every accuser should be believed,’ except those accusing her husband. That shouldn’t be the rule in this case or any other. The men are entitled to due process, and the women are entitled to be heard and to a full-fledged investigation of the claims they choose to raise.”
Vester’s attorney Ari Wilkenfeld said in a statement to NBC, “My client stands by her allegations. She is glad to see the discussion of issues regarding sexual harassment continue. She will have more to say very soon.” He also called for NBC to hire an outside investigator to look into the case. NBC had conducted an internal investigation in the wake of sexual misconduct claims made against Matt Lauer.
Kelly added that she is familiar with accusations of harassment in the workplace, as well as the investigation process. “I just came from Fox, where we just went through this,” she said. “And they hired Paul Weiss, an outside law firm, but Paul Weiss was employed as counsel for the companies, so it was all covered with attorney-client privilege. It wasn’t through outside, independent investigation where the results will be announced to the world. The world would find out what happened. It was all controlled, the information being controlled, by Fox.”
Following Gosk’s comments about companies implementing a fair system for employees to feel comfortable about reporting harassment, Kelly reflected on her past experience. “When I was at Fox News…Gretchen Carlson filed her lawsuit against Roger [Ailes], and then I called Lachlan Murdoch to tell him what had happened to me 10 years earlier, because I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just an internal investigation, that it was a full and fair investigation into his conduct, and they hired Paul Weiss. When I came out and talked about it publicly, the news anchors would ask me, ‘Why didn’t you report it?’” She concluded, “I finally found the right response, which was, ‘You don’t get to ask me that question until you ask me first whether there was a safe avenue for reporting in my company, and only if the answer to that is yes, you get to ask question number two.’”
“I think what NBC is doing right now, I mean, there’s only so much they can do about what happened 24 years ago, but what they’re trying to do right now is say, ‘We are trying to create that safe avenue,’” said Kelly.
NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack said in a statement, “As we’ve shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate.” He added, “Our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality — there can be no exception.”
“I’m sitting here because I was asked to report on my own company on Thursday night, which is incredibly difficult,” said Snow. “Separately, there are a lot of people in this building who really support Tom Brokaw, and I have reported that they have signed a petition in his support.” Snow added that the petition has been signed by almost 100 current and former NBC employees. “I just wanted to make sure that gets out in our story.”
“I understand that, because when you love the person being under attack, you want to say, ‘This has been my experience,’” said Kelly. “I will say that the same thing happened at Fox, and the truth is that you don’t know what you don’t know.” She added that while she loves Brokaw, “I think letters like that can be dicey.”
Kelly famously didn’t express her support for Roger Ailes when allegations first started to come out against the former Fox News CEO, and it later emerged that she said she too had been harassed by Ailes.