NBC News’ firing of “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer is the latest example in an ugly pattern of NBC allegedly turning a blind eye to sexual harassment allegations.
The network fired Lauer on Wednesday after a complaint about inappropriate sexual behavior. Lauer faces multiple accusations of sex harassment, including reports that he sexually assaulted a staffer while at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Lauer’s pattern of sexual harassment was reportedly known within the network well before they fired him. Several woman “complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today,'” Variety Magazine reported.
Reporters state that women were “terrified” to come forward with allegations because of Lauer’s power at the network. The Huffington Post’s Yashar Ali wrote on Wednesday that Lauer would “put the fear of God into these women” and would manipulate them into staying silent.
The New York Times and Variety Magazine both had been working on months-long investigations into Lauer’s alleged sexual harassment. NBC executives were aware of both investigations, one of which began prior to reports on Harvey Weinstein, according to Ali.
A spokesperson for NBC News denied that the network was ever “made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct” before Monday night.
Lauer was known to behave boorishly at the network. Journalist Katie Couric complained in 2012 that Lauer “pinches me on the ass a lot.” (RELATED: Remembering Matt Lauer, Liberal Defender of Women [VIDEO])
NBC has previously been accused of covering up sexual harassment accusations against powerful men.
Ali previously published a stunning expose last month revealing how NBC News executives allegedly spiked Ronan Farrow’s bombshell Harvey Weinstein story, pulling company resources from the story and instructing him to call it off.
The alleged obstruction from NBC executives resulted in Farrow — their own reporter — taking the story to The New Yorker instead.
Farrow himself said the network declined to run the Weinstein story.
“I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should’ve been public earlier,” he said. “And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that and it not accurate that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
Farrow previously accused network executives of discouraging him from covering Bill Cosby’s alleged rapes in 2014.
NBC severed its contract with senior political analyst and “Game Change” author Mark Halperin last month after CNN reported that five women accused him of sexual harassment and assault while he was in a senior position at ABC News.
However, NBC notably waited five days after the allegations broke to officially end his contract. Initially, the network only suspended Halperin, explaining that he would be stepping away from his contributor role while they investigated the allegations. Meanwhile, the number of accusers had grown to at least a dozen.
Four long days before NBC cut the cord, both Penguin Press and HBO ended deals they had with Halperin related to a book he was writing.
Even MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, who shared a desk with Halperin fairly often on “Morning Joe,” was reluctant to take the allegations seriously. The morning after the news broke, Brzezinski referred to Halperin as a “friend,” noted that the alleged behavior happened “over a decade ago” with “unnamed sources,” and credited Halperin with apologizing for his actions.
How Morning Joe covered the “allegations regarding our friend Mark Halperin”: pic.twitter.com/nSor2IajhK
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 26, 2017
Two weeks ago, the network fired a senior vice president following allegations of sexual misconduct. Matt Zimmerman reportedly violated company policy by failing to report relationships with women who worked for him.
In October of 2016, NBC got scooped by The Washington Post on the Access Hollywood tape that featured Billy Bush and then-candidate Donald Trump making uncouth comments about women. NBC, who owns Access Hollywood, held on to the material for nearly four days as lawyers reviewed the tape.
NBC similarly erred back in 1999 when they sat on an interview with Juanita Broaddrick until after the impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton. NBC News president Andrew Lack — the same man who fired Lauer on Wednesday — said that he wanted to be extra careful with Broaddrick’s rape accusation against Clinton and waited until several other news outlets reported on the allegations.
Broaddrick said she became “absolutely frustrated” waiting for NBC to air her interview. On Wednesday, she questioned why Lack still has a job at NBC and called on the network to fire him.
Andy Lack just fired Matt Lauer today. Why is Andy Lack still at NBC? His actions delaying my interview until after Impeach Hearing of Bill Clinton is disgraceful. #FireAndyLack
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) November 29, 2017
All of NBC’s excessive tip-toeing around sexual harassment and assault stories raises questions regarding whether they knew more about Lauer, Halperin and others than they let on.