Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, Greta Van Susteren, Linda Vester, Addie Zinone and Eleanor McManus, one of the founders of Press Forward, an organization launched by journalists in the wake of the Me Too movement in 2017 to stop sexual harassment and create safer environments for women in newsrooms, have all signed the letter addressed to Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and the company’s board of directors.
Since Matt Lauer’s firing, multiple news organizations, including Variety, have broken news about NBC News, which has denied having prior knowledge of Lauer’s misconduct before his swift termination in November 2017. Following the release of Ronan Farrow’s book, “Catch and Kill,” which revealed an on-the-record rape allegation from former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, the news organization has come under fire, being subjected to much criticism specifically regarding the company’s decision to conduct only an internal investigation of itself.
Variety has reached out to Comcast for comment on the letter.
The letter comes just a day after Kelly went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, slamming her former employer NBC News for its Lauer investigation and for its handling of the Harvey Weinstein probe. Kelly very publicly departed Fox News after sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes and moved to NBC News, where she hosted her own morning show, “Megyn Kelly Today.” She parted ways with NBC following backlash for comments about blackface, though the anchor already had a contentious relationship with NBC brass.
Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment, eventually encouraging others to come forward and resulting in Ailes’ ouster from Fox News.
TV news veteran Van Susteren had a brief stint at MSNBC after she departed her longtime post at Fox News in the aftermath of Ailes’ ouster.
Vester, a former journalist at both NBC News and Fox News, accused Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment. During a months-long investigation conducted by Variety, she alleged that Brokaw physically tried to force her to kiss him on two separate occasions, groped her and showed up at her hotel room uninvited. Since her story was made public, Vester has continued to speak out against NBC News and has championed women’s workplace safety, founding the Silence Breakers Alliance, a foundation to financially support efforts to end sexual harassment.
Zinone came forward to Variety about her secret relationship with Lauer that occurred when she was a production assistant at the “Today” show. Zinone appeared on Kelly’s NBC show to discuss her story, shining light on an imbalance of power in the workplace.
Read the statement in full below:
To Comcast Corp. Board of Directors and Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO:
As the parent company of NBC Universal, we appeal to you to overturn the network’s refusal on Thursday to conduct an independent investigation of sexual misconduct and coverups at NBC News.
This week, the fearless reporting by Ronan Farrow and Rich McHugh exposed what many at NBC News have known for years: certain network executives have enabled a corporate culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse, and are still trying to cover it up today.
Through dozens of interviews with current and former NBC employees, Farrow and McHugh have established that NBC knew long before November 2017 that Matt Lauer pressured female colleagues for sexual contact. Their book, Catch and Kill, reveals that a “Today” show staffer was paid off and silenced in 2011 after confiding in colleagues about Lauer pressing her for sex. The book also reveals that an on-air personality suffered retaliation for rebuffing Lauer.
These were not isolated incidents. His years of predatory behavior toward female colleagues was tolerated by executives with the same attitudes toward women – some were even predators themselves.
According to the book, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and MSNBC President Phil Griffin also have a record of sexually harassing female subordinates. NBC News President Noah Oppenheim boasted about objectifying women while at Harvard University.
Are these the men you want running a news network news reliant on the FCC for license renewal?
We call on Comcast to do three things immediately:
1) Override NBC’s decision and launch a full investigation of sexual misconduct within the news division, to be conducted by an outside, independent law firm . The inquiry should determine which executives knew about the misconduct and covered it up. The final report should be sent directly to Mr. Roberts and the Board of Directors.
2) Make NBC declare that all current and former employees may seek waivers from their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in any sexual misconduct cases so that they can speak freely and publicly.
3) Have an in-person meeting of Comcast executives, directors, sexual harassment victims and advocacy leaders.
Comcast must prove to its shareholders that it will pursue the truth on behalf of NBC staffers. If necessary, it should remove executives who have abused or silenced women.
Gretchen Carlson, Gift of Courage Fund, Former Fox News Host and Anchor
Megyn Kelly, Former NBC News and Fox News Host and Anchor
Eleanor McManus , Founder of Press Forward, Former CNN Producer
Greta Van Susteren , Former Fox News and MSNBC Host and Anchor
Linda Vester , Founder, Silence Breakers Alliance, Former NBC News and Fox News Anchor and Correspondent
Addie Zinone, Co-Founder Press Forward, Former NBC News Producer