NBC News Under Investigation for Handling of Sexual-Harassment Claims

Chris Matthews. Photo: Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Late last year, the New York attorney general’s office launched an investigation into sexual harassment, retaliation against employees who reported sexual harassment, and gender discrimination at NBC News, Variety reports. The investigation looked into the behavior of several high-ranking employees including soon-to-be former NBC News chief Andy Lack and former Hardball host Chris Matthews. Per Variety’s “well-placed sources,” the attorney general’s civil division is “broadly” looking into allegations of gender discrimination, retaliation against employees who spoke up about sexual harassment at NBC News, and retaliation against journalists who reported on misconduct allegations against Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein. “We are not aware of any inquiry,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson told Variety.

Variety spoke directly to three women who were interviewed for the investigation and has knowledge of three additional interviewees. Among those who cooperated was Megyn Kelly, according to a source close to her. Former NBC News anchor Linda Vester, who accused Tom Brokaw of misconduct in 2018, told Variety she was interviewed by the New York attorney general’s office earlier this year. “They asked me to recount my original experience, and wanted to know a lot about the retaliation after I told the Brokaw story and what I thought might be Andy Lack’s involvement in it,” Vester, a former war correspondent, said to Variety. (Lack has been accused of sexual harassment himself, although it’s unclear to what extent, if any, these claims were pursued in the investigation.) Variety also spoke to Addie Zinone, who said in 2017 that Matt Lauer pursued her romantically when she was a production assistant on Today, and one anonymous NBC employee who worked for Chris Matthews and claims she was retaliated against by higher-ups when she reported his alleged sexual harassment. At least two women spoke to the attorney general with complaints about Matthews, according to Variety. A source directly involved with the investigation believes the probe currently is on pause due the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Lack’s exit from NBC News was announced Monday evening, months ahead of his predetermined retirement. Calls for a change in leadership have been growing, thanks in part to Ronan Farrow and Rich McHugh’s claim that NBC killed their Harvey Weinstein sexual-assault story, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize with The New Yorker. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell tapped Telemundo’s Cesar Conde for Lack’s job, leaving a questionable future for the once-considered heir apparent, Jackie writer (and NBC News exec) Noah Oppenheim. Things are looking rocky at NBC anyway — maybe it’s time for Jackie 2?

NBC Under Investigation for Handling of Harassment Claims