Washington Gadfly

NBC Ombudsman Promises To Review Phil Griffin Perjury Claims

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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Despite NBC News chairman Andy Lack, NBC News president Deborah Turness and innumerable MSNBC personalities pulling a deaf-mute routine about MSNBC president Phil Griffin falsely testifying that he recruited ex-host Ed Schultz because he impressively asked Barack Obama a question at his first presidential press conference, the NBC Universal “ombudsperson” just agreed to investigate.

It shouldn’t take too much due diligence.

As Schultz was forced to admit at his comical breach of partnership trial that kicked off before a Washington federal judge one year ago Wednesday — happy anniversary, Ed — he attended the press conference but uttered nary a word.

In fact, there is no video of Schultz ever asking Obama anywhere or even being in the same room with him, according to an exhaustive Google search. That leaves Griffin with little wiggle room to refute perjury charges by claiming he made an honest mistake, says law professor Geoffrey Hazard, one of the most foremost civil procedure experts in the country.

He has declined multiple requests for comment.

Queen actually spoke privately earlier this year with Lack about Griffin at the NBC News DC bureau, where he has worked for acclaim for decades with all the “talent,” including the late Tim Russert who aided his efforts to get Schultz the show shortly before passing away in 2008. Lack professed total ignorance, even though Washington Gadfly told him about the whopper shortly before Queen approached him following a town hall meeting.

But Queen, who lost his breach of partnership trial against Schultz, persisted.

Lack ignored his detailed follow-up email, so on May 3 he forwarded it to NBC Universal “ombudsperson” Alisa Shudofsky

She replied, “Thank you for contacting the NBCUniversal Ombuds office. We will review your concern internally and address as appropriate.”

Griffin, Turness, Shudofsky and Lack did not reply to requests for comment Thursday.

Schultz, whose show Griffin by some strange coincidence canceled shortly after the trial and was reduced to running a super PAC out of a UPS store and now working for Vladmir Putin’s television station, also ignored questions.

Read Queen’s emails:

From: Michael Queen [mailto:inspire313@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2016 7:35 AM

To: Ombudsperson (NBCUniversal)

Subject: The Perjury of MSNBC president Phil Griffin…

I have reported the perjury of Phil Griffin, both a crime & felony,  to Andrew Lack, CEO of NBC News and others as evidenced below.  Please advise as how one might report an apparent violation of the Comcast Integrity Policy.

Thank you,

Michael Queen

NBC Washington

Dear Mr. Lack,

I am re-sending this letter as the original was sent from my personal e-mail account and you may not have received it.  If I am being redundant please pardon me.  I hereby request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss the issues raised here as I respect your advice and experience as extremely talented producer and administrator. As a followup to your recent townhall meeting in Washington, where we spoke briefly afterwards, I thought I would send you the correspondence I had with my “chain of command” regarding the perjury of Phil Griffin.  As I mentioned to you at the time of the meeting, I am concerned with the apparent indifference of senior management to a very public perjury committed in a federal deposition and the ongoing harm to the reputation of NBC News.  I also think the seeming indifference of senior management may make any efforts to repair that reputation seem only cosmetic in nature.

To remind you of the details I mentioned in our brief conversation, on September 4, 2014, MSNBC President Phil Griffin was deposed in New York as a witness in my federal lawsuit against former MSNBC host Ed Schultz.  In that deposition, Phil Griffin stated he had no memory of my telephone conversation with him, no recollection of reading e-mails I sent him, and no memory of seeing the DVD of Ed Shultz I sent him.  Also in that deposition (starting 2:00 into this clip), he vividly described an event which never happened. In response to a question from NBC attorney Daniel Kummer, Griffin stated at length (for almost two minutes) and under oath his crystal clear recollection of Ed Schultz asking President Obama a question at Obama’s first press conference (also Schultz’s first presidential press conference).

The fact is, Ed Schultz never asked a question at Obama’s first press conference, as evidenced by the video of the press conference and the testimony of Schultz himself.

Now, either Griffin perjured himself, or he is delusional.  It’s not as if he made a single, simple offhand statement.  He went on at great length and great elaboration about how he “discovered” Ed Schultz.  It’s obvious this false testimony is intended to discredit the notion that I had anything to do with bringing Schultz to MSNBC. The record is clear, however, that the reason Griffin knew of Schultz at all was the work I did to promote Schultz to NBC/MSNBC over the year and more preceding the hiring of Schultz.  Even the NBC log shows my submissions (there were two) being received and NOT returned.  That is in addition to the documented e-mail and attached pitch I sent to Griffin.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, states in The Comcast Code of Conduct Statement of Integrity, “We believe that integrity and honesty are the foundation of a productive working environment and a strong company.”  In addition, among The Comcast Code of Conduct Governing Principles is a requirement that all employees, “Be honest, fair, and trustworthy in all your business activities and relationships.”

Griffin’s continued employment at MSNBC as President does not make a good statement.  I’m sure you would agree that for the NBC integrity policy to be enforceable, it must be applied evenly to all employees, otherwise it’s meaningless.  I’m also sure you would agree that such a public embarrassment for NBC News does not send a good message  about the integrity of NBC News. As evidenced by the links in this e-mail, the issue is already public.

As a career NBC News employee, my concern is deep, so I sent the attached e-mails to my “chain of command.”  I did have a very brief meeting with Rachel Manning, Vice President Human Relations in Washington, and Ken Strickland, Washington Bureau Chief, regarding this issue, however, no guidance was provided to me, and, clearly, no action has been taken to address the seriousness of a Divisional President committing perjury — at least no public action has been taken.  It’s been almost a year since this controversy hit the worldwide web, and still nothing.

It is clear you take the reputation of NBC News more seriously than these others have, and I’m inspired by your commitment to restore integrity to NBC News.

In the more than 35 years I have been an employee at NBC News, lying has been reason for dismissal, and I know several past employees who were, in fact, fired for lying.  Are we to understand that now lying is no longer reason for dismissal for any employee?  That does seem to be what is communicated by lack of public action.  Should we amend the formal Integrity Policy to include this change?

Best regards,

Michael Queen

NBC Washington