Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Network execs didn't know of Lauer allegations — NBC investigation

Network execs didn't know of Lauer allegations — NBC investigation

You may remember that recent Washington Post report on NBC's behind-the-scenes grappling with Lauer and his behavior.

The report also said that, of four women who filed complaints about Mr. Lauer's misbehavior, two believed that senior managers at NBC News and the "Today" show were aware of the anchor's sexual misconduct.

Within two days of that complaint, Lauer was sacked. Mr. Brokaw denied the claims, but the news coverage was a reminder that the NBC investigation, promised by executives in the wake of Mr. Lauer's firing past year, had not yet emerged. While making the report public is a positive step, NBC needed an independent third party to look at its practices to make the findings credible, said the organization Press Forward, made up of women who worked in the news industry who experienced sexual misconduct. "I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly", Lauer said.

Investigators interviewed 68 employees in the news division, including on-air talent and producers. "The former leaders with whom we spoke denied any such knowledge, however, and we were unable to otherwise substantiate it", the report said. NBC said it consulted with two outside law firms during the probe.

"NBCUniversal's investigation was thorough, objective and conducted at the corporate level, outside the News division", an NBCUniversal corporate spokesperson said in a statement.

The investigation was led by Kim Harris, NBCUniversal's general counsel. To that end, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack says employees will be able to discuss this with people outside the company.

Investigators found no evidence that anyone "in position of authority" at NBC News knew that Lauer had sexual relationships with others in the company until the November 27 complaint by a woman about an affair that began at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The four women all "confirmed that they did not tell their direct manager or anyone else in a position of authority about their sexual encounters with Lauer".

Lauer, the former "Today" show host, was sacked in November after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another NBC employee.

His accusers told investigators they did not tell their managers or anyone in charge about their interactions with the former "Today" anchor.

Another controversial aspect of Lauer's story was the button that allegedly allowed him to lock the office door from his desk.

Though employees were aware of official company channels through which to raise workplace issues, a number of them said they feared retaliation and that their complaints would not be kept confidential - partly because the HR division sat in "glass-walled offices among other News division employees".

The report, a summary of which was released Wednesday morning, also determined that there isn't believed to be a systemic culture of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment at NBC News. However, the report says the behavior may have contributed to an atmosphere where some employees felt discouraged to complain to management. "That is not acceptable", Lack said in a memo.

"We can not change the past", Lack said. What we can do is learn from it, and try to make it right. "We have already begun to turn the page to establish a safer and more respectful environment", Lack wrote.

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