In time for NBC Nightly News to include it in a report about a sexual harassment allegation against former host Tom Brokaw, NBC News chairman Andy Lack sent a memo to staff acknowledging the claims had been made. In his memo, Lack also promised results of his division’s investigation into the Matt Lauer scandal as soon as next week.
In his note to staffers, about a day after The Washington Post and Variety published claims made against Brokaw, Lack said NBC News takes the allegations very seriously and acts on them quickly and decisively when facts dictate.
Lauer was fired in late-November after NBC News said it received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
In his memo, Lack noted Brokaw has “emphatically” denied allegations again him.
Early this morning, Brokaw sent a lengthy letter to colleagues excoriating former NBC-er Linda Vester over her claims he sexually harassed her in the 1990s. Vester alleges that Brokaw forcefully tried to kiss her in 1994 when he showed up uninvited at her Manhattan hotel room. In 1995, she claims, he again showed up unannounced to her apartment in London, to once again pressure her into having a sexual relationship. Brokaw also blasted the outlets that published her charges.
“Linda Vester was given the run of The Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances, to complain that I tickled her without permission … that I invaded her hotel room, accepted an invitation to her apartment under false pretenses and in general was given a free hand to try to destroy” him.
“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,” he charged.
NBC Nightly News’ report on allegations against Brokaw largely mirrored the report on the subject on Today show; both were reported by Kate Snow, but the morning show’s segment had no statement from Lack.
Here is that Today show segment, followed by Lack’s memo in full:
Memo from Lack:
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. As we’ve shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate.
The same report included claims against Matt Lauer. As you know, since the week we terminated Matt’s employment, NBC Universal has been conducting a review, led by general counsel Kim Harris–who has extensive experience in conducting reviews of this kind–with a team of legal and HR leaders. Kim has advised us that the review is nearing its conclusion, and we will have findings and further steps to share with you as soon as next week.
In addition to the review–which has included interviews with employees who worked on TODAY and elsewhere in NBC News, and a substantial culture assessment conducted with hundreds of employees–we also have been running mandatory in-person workplace training sessions. Thus far, 1600 employees have been trained, and the feedback from those sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. We expect to have all 2,000 of our employees trained by end of summer.
If you are one of the many who has participated in interviews, the culture assessment sessions and/or the workplace training sessions, thank you. Your participation, feedback and insights are crucial to this process, as we move forward as an organization.
And as we have done regularly over the last few months, and will continue to do frequently, we want to remind you that we encourage all employees to speak up and raise any concerns you have about inappropriate conduct you have experienced or observed. There are multiple avenues available that we have shared with you before, you can also find the details on the intranet NBCNow.
Once again, 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.