NBC Is Taking Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer Sexual Misconduct Accusations 'Very Seriously'
"We take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate," NBC News Chairman And Lack said
A day after reports broke that two women accused longtime NBC News journalist Brokaw of allegedly making inappropriate advances towards two former female colleagues, NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a statement released to NBC colleagues and obtained by PEOPLE that the network takes “allegations such as these very seriously.”
“As you have all seen now in reports from last night, there are allegations against Tom Brokaw, made by a former NBC News journalist, which Tom emphatically denies. As we’ve shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate,” began Lack, 70.
In a Washington Post report published on Thursday, former NBC correspondent Linda Vester claimed Brokaw, 78, made an unwanted advance, including a forcible attempt to kiss her, on two occasions in the 1990s. At the time, Vester was in her 20s and did not file a complaint.
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Also on Thursday, Variety published an interview with Vester in which she claimed Brokaw groped her in an NBC conference room and showed up at her hotel room uninvited. Vester also shared her journal entries from the time period to the publication.
The second woman, who worked as a production assistant, anonymously told The Post that Brokaw acted inappropriately toward her in the ’90s. Brokaw also denied the second accusation.
Also in the Post report, former Today show anchor Lauer, who was terminated from his position in November for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior, addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against him while new claims were brought against him by former co-anchor Ann Curry.
Curry said she approached two members of NBC’s management team — they are no longer with NBC News — in 2012 after a female staffer at the network told her she was “sexually harassed physically” by Lauer, 60. The NBC staffer confirmed to the Post that she went to Curry with her complaint, but she remained anonymous because she fears retaliation.
“A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her,” Curry, 61, told the newspaper. “She was afraid of losing her job … I believed her.” Curry said the woman implored that she not reveal her name to anyone and she obliged — but she did specifically name Lauer in her conversation with management.
“I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” she said.
WATCH: Ann Curry On Her Reaction To The Matt Lauer Scandal: “I’m Not a Vengeful Person”
“The same report included claims against Matt Lauer. As you know, since the week we terminated Matt’s employment, NBC Universal has been conducting a review, led by general counsel Kim Harris — who has extensive experience in conducting reviews of this kind — with a team of legal and HR leaders. Kim has advised us that the review is nearing its conclusion, and we will have findings and further steps to share with you as soon as next week,” Lack continued in his statement.
Lack said that in “in addition to the review — which has included interviews with employees who worked on Today and elsewhere in NBC News, and a substantial culture assessment conducted with hundreds of employees — we also have been running mandatory in-person workplace training sessions. Thus far, 1600 employees have been trained, and the feedback from those sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. We expect to have all 2,000 of our employees trained by end of summer.”
He also encouraged “all employees to speak up and raise any concerns you have about inappropriate conduct you have experienced or observed. There are multiple avenues available that we have shared with you before, you can also find the details on the intranet NBCNow” and concluded: “once again, our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality — there can be no exception.”
In his own statement, Lauer defended himself.
“Five months ago I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers,” he said in a statement. “A day later I took responsibility, apologized to the people I had hurt and promised to begin the process of repairing the damage I had caused my family. I have worked every day since then to honor that promise,” Lauer said.
“I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months- including a claim that I would, or even could, lock someone in my office. I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost.
“But defending my family now requires me to speak up. I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false,” he concluded.