Rachel Maddow used her MSNBC show to turn the spotlight on her NBC News bosses, live on the air, expressing how many employees of the company were concerned with how the company had acted in the face of sexual harassment allegations. The criticism came on multiple fronts. Maddow bashed NBC management for allowing Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein “get away.” But she went further and questioned why there had been no investigation into the Weinstein probe and also allegations regarding the sexual harassment of Matt Lauer, the former anchor of Today who was fired in 2017.
“The allegations about the behavior of Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer are gut-wrenching at baseline, no matter who you are or what your connection is to this story,” Maddow said to her viewers. “But accusations that people in positions of authority in this building may have been complicit in some way of shielding those guys from accountability, those accusations are very, very hard to stomach.” Maddow added that “the amount of consternation this has caused among the rank and file people who work here would be almost impossible for me to overstate.”
During her monologue, Maddow also broke news that NBCUniversal had said any former employee who believed had been a target of sexual harassment was free to speak up about their experiences. “Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said in a statement.
Maddow laying out her displeasure with her employer came as she interviewed Farrow on his book Catch and Kill in which he claims that NBC bosses did everything in their power to block his reporting on Weinstein. He also claims in the book that NBC reached nondisclosure agreements with at least seven women who claimed they had suffered some form of harassment or discrimination at the company.
With her words, Maddow officially became the biggest on-air personality to raise questions and criticism of how the network handled Farrow’s reporting. The move was “likely to increase pressure on the NBC News leadership team, including the chairman, Andrew Lack, and the news division president, Noah Oppenheim, who have faced scrutiny from the press and inside network headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza,” notes the New York Times. Oppenheim has said that Farrow is pursuing an “effort to defame NBC News” and “is clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind.”