Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, responded Thursday to the claims of Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent and former Fox News anchor, who said NBC News’ culture of sexual misconduct against women has barely changed in the year since the network fired Matt Lauer amid a cloud of disturbing harassment claims.
However, Vester soon fired back — demanding “the real truth” behind the network’s actions.
“Comcast NBCUniversal’s investigation was thorough, objective and conducted outside the News division. Kim Harris, NBCUniversal’s General Counsel, led this process with a team of legal and HR professionals who are independent of News,” Comcast said, as Variety reported. “In addition, we consulted with two prominent outside law firms — Proskauer Rose and Davis Polk — both of whom validated the investigation’s methodology, findings and conclusions. NBCUniversal issued a detailed report of the findings in May and since instituted new policies and procedures to further encourage reporting of complaints and provide increased training for employees and managers on workplace conduct.”
Vester responded to the Comcast statement with her own, through her group Silence Breakers Alliance: “Today’s statement by Comcast, which includes demonstrably untrue assertions, only underscores why it is critical that the board of directors step in now and get the real truth. The internal investigation was neither thorough nor objective, as evidenced by statements made by several of Matt Lauer’s victims that they were never interviewed. Likewise, several on-air personalities, including Ann Curry, have indicated they also were not interviewed, even though they too have information about Lauer and managers who allegedly covered for him.”
The statement concluded: “It is bad enough that NBC News is being run by Andy Lack, who reportedly has been sexually inappropriate with and retaliated against subordinates in the past. It is worse that NBC Universal president Steve Burke is endorsing someone so compromised to run the news division. And it is appalling that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts would apparently authorize today’s statement. It’s a discredit to the ‘family company’ his father built. And it sends a chilling message to all of the NBC News victims that this corporation seems, in our judgment, to care more about silencing them and letting predators walk the halls at NBC News. Shame on Comcast. Directors, do your job and allow the truth to come out.”
Vester placed an ad in Thursday’s edition of The New York Times, calling on Comcast’s board of directors to end nondisclosure agreements and forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases, as Variety reported.
Vester said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Wednesday night that NBC’s response was neither thorough nor honest. “The truth wasn’t in there,” she told Tucker Carlson, noting that NBC management cared more about the bottom line rather than the women who work there.
Vester also alleged she knows about two victims of misconduct from the 1980s by NBC News Chairman Andy Lack. She questioned whether this bombshell is the reason behind NBC’s smokescreen.
Vester told Carlson the issue with NBC needs to be dealt with at the top, by the board of directors of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal. “They are directors of a publicly traded company. They are answerable to shareholders and the public,” she said. “This is a broadcaster that is regulated by the FCC. So these board of directors, they cannot get away with burying their heads in the sand. These are real women whose lives and careers and reputations are destroyed. They can’t ignore them.”
“How is that a family company?” she added, questioning Comcast’s ethics and morals.
Vester alleged in April that NBC anchor Tom Brokaw made unwanted advances toward her twice during the 1990s, including a move to forcibly kiss Vester, who was in her 20s at the time.
Brokaw denied the allegations, and had scores of female colleagues vouch for his character.