New Disturbing Details About How NBC Handled the Matt Lauer Scandal
NBC is facing new criticism over its handling of the Matt Lauer scandal. The company fired Lauer from Today in November 2017 after a woman came forward saying the longtime anchor had sexually harassed her.
At the time, NBC suggested that it had never before received any indication that Lauer had behaved in this way. However, it now sounds like this might not be the case.
Here’s a look at some of the new details about NBC’s handling of the Lauer scandal, including the one very famous former anchor who says she warned the company about him years ago (page 5).
1. 35 sources say powerful NBC men were known to pursue relationships with more junior women
A new report from The Washington Post suggests that Lauer’s behavior was not exactly a secret at NBC, nor was he the only one doing it. A total of 35 current and former NBC employees said that prominent men at the company, such as Lauer, were known to pursue relationships with women they held power over.
These employees said that some of the relationships were consensual, but some were not. In addition, 12 women told The Post that they experienced sexual harassment at NBC but did not report it.
One source told The Post that when Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, was confronted about Lauer’s alleged behavior, Lack responded, “He just loves people. He genuinely loves people.” Lack has denied saying this.
There had previously been reports suggesting that Lauer’s behavior was an open secret at NBC. One source told Vanity Fair in November, “This has been going on for months and months and everybody knew it and it was just going to be which girl came forward, and who reported it first.”
Next: Lauer faces some new accusations.
2. Two more women have now accused Lauer of sexual harassment
The Washington Post’s April report includes two new women coming forward to say that Lauer sexually harassed them. One woman said that Lauer exposed himself to her in his office and asked her to touch him. Another said that Lauer had sex with her in his office in the middle of the day.
These two women told The Post that they haven’t spoken publicly because they fear retaliation from NBC. This fits with some of the other allegations, with women previously saying Lauer exposed himself in his office and one woman saying that he sexually assaulted her until she passed out.
Next: NBC is facing criticism for failing to take this step while dealing with the scandal.
3. NBC hasn’t hired an outside firm to investigate
Oftentimes, a company will hire an outside firm in order to conduct an investigation when something like the Lauer scandal arises. However, NBC has not done so. Instead, the company is conducting an internal review, which Lack says will conclude soon.
Ari Wilkenfeld, a lawyer representing one of Lauer’s accusers, told Variety that this is unacceptable. He said, “One important reason companies hire outside investigators is to send a strong signal to their own employees that the company wants to get to the root of what happened and is prepared to accept responsibility. Sadly, it seems that NBC has chosen to go in a very different direction.”
Several NBC employees also told Variety they disapprove of this. One asked, “How are they supposed to be investigating themselves?”
Next: Some are skeptical about this statement by Lack.
4. Lack told employees there had never been a complaint against Lauer before
Lack fired Lauer on November 28th, the night before the news broke. According to The Washington Post, Lack then held a series of meetings the following morning to explain what went down. During these meetings, he said that there had never previously been a single complaint about Lauer in his 20 years with the network.
However, an article from Variety cites several women who say they complained about Lauer’s behavior to NBC executives but that no action was taken. NBC later clarified that what Lack meant was that the current management hadn’t received any complaints about Lauer.
Next: This famous news anchor says she personally told NBC about Lauer’s behavior.
5. Ann Curry says she warned the network about Lauer
Ann Curry herself has now revealed that she warned NBC about Lauer’s behavior. Curry says that a female employee approached her in tears in 2012 and said that Lauer had sexually harassed her; this woman said she was afraid to go to NBC management herself because she didn’t want to lose her job.
“I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” Curry told The Washington Post.
Curry also noted that in general, there was “pervasive verbal sexual harassment at NBC.”
Next: What NBC has to say in response to Curry’s statement.
6. NBC says it has no record of this
This warning from Curry reportedly came a full five years before Lauer’s eventual firing. But clearly, NBC did not take it seriously. After all, the network told The Washington Post that they have no record of Curry’s warning.
Additionally, NBC said that there was no absolutely no mention of this in Lauer’s personnel file. Lack was not with the company at this time. So while he technically may have been correct that there were no formal complaints logged against Lauer during his time there, NBC had been warned about his behavior and chose to do nothing, according to Curry.
Several other women say they complained about Lauer as well.
Next: Another reason Lack is facing criticism for the way he handled the Lauer scandal.
7. Lack revealed more information about Lauer’s accuser than she wanted him to
Lauer’s firing came after a woman said that he had behaved inappropriately towards her starting at the Sochi Olympics. This is something Lack told employees after the firing. The accuser wanted to stay anonymous. According to The Washington Post, though, by providing details, Lack narrowed down the number of women who could have complained about Lauer.
“My client came forward in good faith to her employer with the promise of confidentiality — something that took tremendous courage,” the lawyer of Lauer’s accuser told The Post. “Almost immediately, NBC broke that confidentiality by revealing specific details of her complaint without her consent, and has in fact disclosed information which led many to deduce her identity.”
Next: Critics feel that this recent story proves that NBC has learned nothing.
8. NBC has reportedly pressured employees into supporting Tom Brokaw
Now, another NBC employee is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal: Tom Brokaw. Three women have said that Brokaw sexually harassed them. One of those women said that she came forward specifically because NBC has “failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division.”
Days after these allegations came out, 60 women at NBC News, including Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, signed a letter supporting Brokaw. But Page Six subsequently reported that some staffers felt pressured into signing.
One employee told Page Six, “The letter was being handed around the office and the unspoken threat was that if your name was not on it, there would be some repercussion down the road. Execs are watching to see who signed and who didn’t.”
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