When NBC News Chairman Andy Lack fired Matt Lauer in November following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, he made it very clear that he hadn’t received any complaints about Lauer’s behavior until that week. A report from the Washington Post published Thursday evening indicates otherwise.
Lauer’s one-time Today co-host Ann Curry says she reported him to NBC’s management team in 2012 after she was told by a woman staffer that he had sexually harassed her. “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” she said. An NBC spokesperson told the Post that the company doesn’t have a record of the incident.
Later in the same article, reporter Sarah Ellison again quotes Curry, who has a non-disclosure agreement with NBC, about why people may be hesitant to come forward about inappropriate behavior—what if you don’t trust the person in charge of Human Resources?
“This is one of the problems when we talk about corporations with an HR department being under leadership of someone who might or might not be accused,” she told the Post. “How are they going to complain about it if they are accusing someone who is overseeing the department that is supposed to protect them?”
She continued: “Do you have a system that allows those who feel they have been victimized to air their complaints without fear they will lose their jobs? I don’t know a company that does.”
Since the first report against Lauer, NBC has faced a deluge of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct—behavior that can reasonably be assumed, even outside Curry’s account, to have been going on for some time. Curry claims that there was “pervasive verbal sexual harassment at NBC,” while Soledad O’Brien told the Post, “I don’t think that people who were victims would feel particularly supported by going to someone and asking for help.” On Thursday, Variety reported allegations from NBC News correspondent Linda Vester that NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw had assaulted her on multiple occasions, but says she didn’t report the incidents to the police or HR because she “scared it would end her career.” Brokaw has denied the allegations, saying they had two meetings and both were “brief, cordial, and appropriate.”
Following Lauer’s termination, Lack sent a company-wide memo promising a “thorough and timely review of what happened and what we can do to build a culture of greater transparency, openness, and respect for each other,” led by “a team of the most experienced NBCUniversal Legal and Human Resources leader.”
But what if, as Curry suggested, among those leaders are the ones accused of misconduct themselves? How can one advocate for and reform the process on behalf of victims if the advocate is, or is sympathetic to, the accused?
Curry declined to give further comment to Jezebel. We’ve also reached out to NBC and will update this post if we hear back.
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