Months after one of its biggest network stars left the airwaves in disgrace amid allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct, NBC Universal released a report effectively absolving itself of any responsibility in fostering an environment where such alleged abuses could take place.
The findings suggested no one in NBC management was made aware of claims against “Today” host Matt Lauer at the time of his alleged harassment of at least four women.
“We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or Today show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to Nov. 27, 2017,” the report states.
Furthermore, the review claims that the women who have since come forward publicly with their claims against Lauer “did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters” at the time.
Fox News spoke to several sources close to the company, however, who expressed serious reservations about the report’s conclusions. Some insiders speculate the motive behind the internal review was not to find out the facts but to protect network executives.
On its face, the report appears to discount claims by former “Today” co-host Ann Curry that she warned network executives of brewing problems involving Lauer’s behavior. She said that in 2012 she told two higher-ups at the network that “they needed to keep an eye on” the popular host.
Curry claimed her concern stemmed from a firsthand account she received from a female staffer.
“She was afraid of losing her job,” said Curry, who left the network in 2015. “I believed her.”
According to sources cited by Fox News, the recent internal review appears to be designed as a way to provide cover for one executive at the center of allegations that the company knew of complaints about Lauer and others.
“This is a complete whitewash, a disgrace and a disgustingly transparent defense of (NBC News Chairman) Andy Lack,” one NBC employee said.
Lack is accused of working to limit the exposure of other powerful men — including Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein — to potentially damaging claims of sexual harassment.
Other current and former staffers scoffed at the internal report, citing continuous calls for the company to turn the investigation over to an independent firm. Nevertheless, the probe was handed to Kim Harris, NBC Universal’s general counsel.
While the review does mention that internal investigators “consulted with two outside law firms” in the process, critics say NBC should have stayed out of the process entirely.
NBC investigation by NBC general counsel finds no one in NBC management knew of misbehavior by Matt Lauer at NBC.
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) May 9, 2018
For its part, the company claims that both consultancy firms “have concluded that the investigation team took appropriate investigative steps.”
The final report acknowledged that multiple witnesses interviewed during the process said they “heard or read about rumors” involving Lauer, but that the majority of them believed “that the rumored extramarital affairs were with women outside of the company.”
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