Well, so much for that day of good press.
The media spotlight is now back on NBC News.
Weeks after reporting that the network allegedly shut down and smeared Ronan Farrow‘s investigation of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein—a story that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize — The Daily Beast published another notable report this evening critical of NBC News.
And there could be more reports to come.
According to a report from the digital news outlet, NBC News chairman Andy Lack has let harassing behavior by men in high places slide wherever he has been. This includes allegedly protecting a male executive who he had been told sexually harassed multiple women, doing so while he was at another company.
The report states that Lack declined to address harassing behavior he knew about while he was chairman and CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment in 2004, in between his two stops running NBC News, the first being from 1993 – 2001.
An NBC spokesperson has denied the allegation, and a spokesperson for Sony Music responded to The Daily Beast with: “No comment.”
According to former high-level Sony executives, the company discovered that a music executive named Charlie Walk had sent “sexual” messages via company email to female employees, including “graphic” pornography.
Soon after finding the messages, executives said, they repeatedly implored Lack to address Walk’s sexual harassment. Each time, Lack declined to act.
“I kept telling him: ‘You must do something about this. It’s imperative,’” one of the executives said. “Andy would turn a blind eye to making difficult decisions.”
According to a woman named Pam Kaye, who was a promotional manager working under Walk at Columbia Records, Walk tried to put his hands down her pants while they were in a car together in 2004.
Another Sony employee named Kate Harold said Walk in 2006 “forcibly kissed her and rubbed his penis through clothing against her during a business dinner.”
Walk did not respond to a request for comment on any of The Daily Beast’s allegations. But an NBC spokesperson said that “Lack had no knowledge of any allegations against Charlie Walk in the six years he was at Sony. If he did, he would have acted within minutes.”
Ari Wilkenfeld, the attorney for the NBC News employee who first accused Matt Lauer of what NBCUniversal termed as “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” told The Daily Beast that Lack “effectively outed his client,” despite a pledge to keep her identity confidential.
“NBCUniversal and Mr. Lack’s actions, which I believe were deliberate, have done nothing short of destroying my client’s life,” said Wilkenfeld.
After interviewing Lauer, NBCU immediately terminated him—with Lack doing the firing on the “same day he learned of the first complaint of misconduct,” an NBC News spokesperson said.
As for all of Lauer’s alleged victims, Lack “is deeply saddened by it for the organization and for the women who came forward,” an NBC News spokesperson said, “and he has said that in private settings around this building and in notes to the organization. It’s been obviously difficult for everyone here and most especially the women who had to endure what they did.”
Page Six published a story late last month, speculating about the potential departure of Lack rom the company “over his mishandling of a series of #MeToo scandals and the Megyn Kelly debacle.”
The Daily Beast writes says that after hiring Megyn Kelly, Lack “has been annoyed, sources said, at her insistence on turning the show into a regular forum for the alleged victims of powerful men.” This includes Tom Brokaw.
“The NBC News stuff has worn thin on them,” a senior NBC source told The Daily Beast.
Despite all of this, NBCU chief Steve Burke seems to be standing by his man, telling The Daily Beast via statement that Lack had “has my complete support. We have worked together closely for over three years during which I have watched him oversee NBC News with great integrity, sound judgment and a focus on doing what’s right. I look forward to continuing to work with Andy and to his continued success as the leader of NBC News.”
The Daily Beast writes that one of the men who Lack tasked with reviewing Farrow’s reporting was a sexual harasser himself, Dateline senior ep David Corvo. NBCUniversal paid Norvo’s accuser nearly $1 million as part of a separation agreement.
“At a time when different people ran the news division and a different company owned NBC the company investigated a complaint and took effective action, including changing reporting lines,” a network spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “The individual’s departure over a decade later and any compensation paid was completely unrelated to the complaint.”
A network spokesperson also said Corvo was “not a decision maker on the Weinstein reporting” and said he and two senior women on the review team “were unanimous in affirming that NBC News did not yet have a story that was ready for broadcast.”
Oh, and Variety is reporting this evening that NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is negotiating his exit plan at the network.
Quite a day.