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Brokaw accuser calls NBC investigation into Lauer 'deeply flawed'

A woman who has accused former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment called an internal NBC investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against former "Today" show host Matt LauerMatthew (Matt) Todd LauerProsecutor drops some charges against Harvey Weinstein Time's Up anti-harassment group names first CEO ACLU's M in anti-Kavanaugh ads won't target Flake, Collins MORE "deeply flawed" on Tuesday, criticizing the network for not hiring an outside firm to handle the investigation. 

Linda Vester says Brokaw made unwanted advances more than 20 years ago — allegations echoed by another former NBC employee. Brokaw, 78, staunchly denies the claims. 

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"You were waiting and calling for this internal report to come out and they seemed to be dragging their feet or at least not responding in a timely fashion, then you came forward with your accusations against Tom Brokaw and lo and behold the internal report came out. Do you feel some sense of satisfaction for having forced the issue?" CNN "New Day" co-anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Vester.

"I think the internal report was deeply flawed," replied Vester. "That’s a problem, because women have contacted me in recent days to say that they did not feel that they could fully speak candidly to the NBC lawyers and others have contacted me to say that they didn’t feel that they were properly interviewed."
Vester went on to note that other networks — including CBS, NPR and Fox News — brought in outside law firms to run their own investigations. 

"When you have an internal investigation, when you’re talking to the lawyers for the company that signs your paycheck, women can’t speak freely and that was the case here, and so what NBC really needs to do is hire outside counsel to properly investigate this. They haven’t done so," she continued. 
 
"CBS has managed to do so with the sexual harassment issues there," she said. "NPR did the same thing to signal transparency and willingness. Fox News channel brought in counsel as well, and that shows a transparency and willingness to address problems with sexual misconduct. I don’t understand why NBC isn’t doing it, but I think it can and it should."

Camerota later pointed out that "real high-profile women, from Andrea Mitchell to Rachel Maddow" pushed back on the allegations against Brokaw, and put out a letter signed by more than 60 female NBC employees supporting the longtime "NBC Nightly News" anchor, asking Vester if the decision to go ahead with the letter surprised her.

"It did surprise me. Everyone has the right to support a friend. That’s fine," she replied. "But when a letter like that gets circulated among NBC news employees and some report that they feel pressured to sign it, I think that’s problematic. You and I have been through this before in a different company, we both worked at Fox News channel. I was not harassed by Roger Ailes and you were, both things were true."

"They both happened. In this case both things can be true at NBC News that Tom Brokaw could have treated some women decently, and he also assaulted," Vester added.

Camerota, who joined CNN in 2014 after hosting "Fox & Friends Weekend" for many years, joined former Fox News hosts Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, among others, in accusing Ailes of sexual harassment. Camerota leveled the accusations in April 2017 on CNN. 

Ailes, the former Chairman and CEO of Fox News until July 2016, died in May 2017. 

Several media reporters have also slammed NBC for not hiring an outside firm to handle its investigation into Lauer, including most recently by The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan in a scathing Sunday column.

"The network’s internal investigation of the circumstances surrounding deposed star Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct was seen by many as a whitewash," the former New York Times public editor wrote.

"Something is wrong at NBC, and by the traditional standard that the person at the top sets the tone and bears ultimate responsibility, it’s hard to absolve NBC Chairman Andy Lack," Sullivan added.

NBC News spokesman Mark Kornblau responded by defending Lack in the piece, citing improving ratings and an investigative unit that has broken "hundreds of exclusive stories"

Lack took over “a hurting NBC in 2015, and under his leadership, all four flagship news programs are now number one," Kornblau responded, adding that MSNBC is enjoying its highest ratings ever while NBC News has “built an investigative team that has broken hundreds of exclusive stories on politics, national security, technology and more.”

NBC also received criticism for allowing investigative reporter Ronan Farrow, once employed by NBC, to take his explosive story on former Hollywood producing mogul Harvey Weinstein to The New Yorker.

The network claimed Farrow's story didn't have enough to go to air. But after Farrow's reporting in The New Yorker, along with The New York Times's Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, it led to a cascade of stories of past sexual harassment involving big names in Hollywood and the media while ending Weinstein's career. 

The New York Times and The New Yorker won Pulitzer Prizes for the Weinstein reporting in April.