The top executive at NBC News reiterated that the Comcast-owned operation takes allegations of sexual harassment seriously in the wake of charges levied by a former NBC News employee at legendary anchor Tom Brokaw, and signaled that a review of how the unit handled accusations made against former “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer was nearing an end.
“As you have all seen now in reports from last night, there are allegations against Tom Brokaw, made by a former NBC News journalist, which Tom emphatically denies,” said Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, in a memo to employees. “As we’ve shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate.” He did not offer any assessment of the accusations levied against Brokaw, a day after Variety and the Washington Post reported allegations that former NBC Nightly News nachor made unwanted sexual advances to former NBC News anchor Linda Vester in the mid-1990s.
Brokaw denied the allegations strongly in a letter sent to colleagues Friday and released to select reporters by NBC News. Brokaw noted that his accuser, Linda Vester, had a reputation “as a colleague who had trouble with the truth” and asserted that she was the instigator of the two private meetings that she describes in her account to the two publications. “I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine and stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned in more than a half century of journalism and citizenship,” Brokaw wrote.
An attorney for Vester has said she stands by her allegations.
Lack also disclosed that NBCUniversal’s review of its handling of Matt Lauer'[s departure “is nearing its conclusion, and we will have finding and further steps to share with you as soon as next week.”
He said the review, unveiled in early December just days after Lauer was dismissed from “Today” due to what NBC said was “inappropriate sexual behavior,” has included interviews with employees of “Today” and other NBC News operations. Lack said NBC News has also conducted what he called a “substantial culture assessment conducted with hundreds of employees” and has run –“mandatory in-person workplace training sessions” that have included 1600 employees, with all 2000 NBC News staffers slated to be trained by the end of the summer.
Lack told staffers “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.”