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Time’s Up Calls for NBC News to Make ‘Structural Change’ in Wake of Matt Lauer Rape Allegation

Time’s Up — the anti-sexual harassment advocacy group launched by Hollywood celebrities — has responded to the ongoing sexual harassment allegations at NBC that continue to unfold this week following the release of Ronan Farrow’s new book. “Catch and Kill” details the investigative journalist’s experience reporting against systems of power, with much of the book focused on his claims against NBC News.

“The latest allegations of sexual assault against Matt Lauer are deeply troubling,” the statement from Time’s Up reads, mentioning allegations from women who, for the first time, went on the record in Farrow’s book — including former NBC News producer Brooke Nevils, who alleges Lauer raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and former “Today” show booker Melissa Lonner, who is accusing Lauer of exposing himself to her in an office.

Lauer has denied Nevils and Lonner’s allegations.

Time’s Up commends NBC News for firing Lauer after Nevils reported her alleged incident to human resources, but the organization also takes aim at the company, stating that Lauer’s “egregious behavior” is “often only possible in a toxic work environment.”

Variety has reached out to NBC News for comment regarding Time’s Up’s statement.

NBC News has rebuked Farrow, calling many of the author’s explosive claims “false.” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim sent a staff memo that said Farrow’s “effort to defame” the news organization is “clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind.” Addressing the Lauer rape allegation, Oppenheim wrote, “Matt Lauer’s actions were abhorrent, and the anger and sadness he caused continue to this day. As we’ve said since the moment he was fired, his abuses should never have happened. Ronan Farrow’s book takes that undeniable fact and twists it into a lie — alleging we were a ‘company with a lot of secrets.’ We have no secrets and nothing to hide.”

The lengthy statement from Time’s Up was issued by the organization’s interim CEO Rebecca Goldman. Earlier this month, Tina Tchen, a lawyer and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s ex-chief of staff, was appointed president and CEO.

Time’s Up launched in January 2018 as the Me Too movement unfolded in Hollywood. The group, which helps sexual-harassment victims across all industries, not just entertainment and media, aims to advocate for safer and more equitable work conditions for women. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has raised more than $24 million for women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

Read Time’s Up’s full statement below:

The latest allegations of sexual assault against Matt Lauer are deeply troubling. IME’S UP supports Brooke Nevils, Melissa Lonner, and the at least two other women who have come forward publicly and privately with allegations of abuse, harassment, or related retaliation at the hands of Matt Lauer.

But this is not simply the case of one bad actor. Egregious behavior like Lauer’s is often only possible in a toxic work environment, where protecting working people takes a backseat to protecting the careers of powerful men and the reputation of an even more powerful company.

We commend NBC for taking an important step by firing Matt Lauer after Brooke reported the assault to HR, but that must only be the start: Real progress happens when corporations like NBC make a transparent and continuous commitment to creating and nurturing a culture of safety and equity, which often involves long-term structural change across all levels. Instead, NBC’s latest statements fail to demonstrate a commitment to such change and fail to support the victims who take the courageous step to come forward.

NBC’s 2018 investigation revealed a number of areas where NBC should work to improve its culture. We ask NBC to be transparent about the steps it has taken, and the steps it will continue to take, to establish the inclusive, fair, and equitable workplace culture that every employee of NBC deserves.

TIME’S UP has recommended best practices for companies and is committed to doing further research in this area through our TIME’S UP Impact Lab, a new initiative that will pioneer research driving toward public policy, private sector, and culture change to address sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, as well as broader systemic inequality and injustice at work.

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