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All-female press powerhouse sends blistering letter to NBC parent company demanding an independent investigation

Sisters are doing it for themselves

Photo by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images

Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Eleanor McManus, Greta Van Susteren, Linda Vester, and Addie Zinone have all come forward in demanding that Comcast — the parent company of NBC Universal — conduct an independent investigation of allegedly widespread sexual misconduct claims that reportedly took place at the network.

What are the details?

Journalist Ronan Farrow's new book, "Catch and Kill," is at the center of the controversy. Farrow wrote that NBC was part of a larger scandal in attempting to cover up and silence former NBC host Matt Lauer's accusers, as well as attempt to keep a lid on the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim denied some of the allegations contained in Farrow's book and insisted that they were conspiracy theories and smears. NBC executives have insisted that they had no knowledge of Lauer's behaviors prior to the rape accusation that saw Lauer lose his job at the network.

Vester publicly decried NBC's claims and said that the behaviors were part of a larger and more insidious culture of silence, insisting that everyone at the network knew about powerful men taking advantage of others and still did nothing about it.

Carlson, Kelly, McManus, Van Susteren, Vester, and Zinone all signed the letter, which asked Comcast to "overturn the network's refusal" to conduct an independent investigation into the misdeeds and alleged cover-ups at NBC.

"These were not isolated incidents," a portion of the letter said. "[Lauer's] years of predatory behavior toward female colleagues was tolerated by executives with the same attitudes toward women — some were even predators themselves."

What did the letter say?

In the letter, the women had three demands: 1. Comcast launch an independent investigation into NBC News to be carried out by a law firm; 2. Comcast free all NBC employees past and present from nondisclosure agreements in order to speak freely; and 3. Comcast conduct a meeting comprised of executives, directors, victims, and personal advocacy leaders to work on a strategy moving forward.

You can read the letter in its entirety below.

As the parent company of NBC Universal, we appeal to you to overturn the network's refusal on Thursday to conduct an independent investigation of sexual misconduct and coverups at NBC News.

This week, the fearless reporting by Ronan Farrow and Rich McHugh exposed what many at NBC News have known for years: certain network executives have enabled a corporate culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse, and are still trying to cover it up today.

Through dozens of interviews with current and former NBC employees, Farrow and McHugh have established that NBC knew long before November 2017 that Matt Lauer pressured female colleagues for sexual contact. Their book, Catch and Kill, reveals that a “Today" show staffer was paid off and silenced in 2011 after confiding in colleagues about Lauer pressing her for sex. The book also reveals that an on-air personality suffered retaliation for rebuffing Lauer.

These were not isolated incidents. His years of predatory behavior toward female colleagues was tolerated by executives with the same attitudes toward women – some were even predators themselves.

According to the book, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and MSNBC President Phil Griffin also have a record of sexually harassing female subordinates. NBC News President Noah Oppenheim boasted about objectifying women while at Harvard University.

Are these the men you want running a news network news reliant on the FCC for license renewal?

We call on Comcast to do three things immediately:

1) Override NBC's decision and launch a full investigation of sexual misconduct within the news division, to be conducted by an outside, independent law firm. The inquiry should determine which executives knew about the misconduct and covered it up. The final report should be sent directly to Mr. Roberts and the Board of Directors.

2) Make NBC declare that all current and former employees may seek waivers from their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in any sexual misconduct cases so that they can speak freely and publicly.

3) Have an in-person meeting of Comcast executives, directors, sexual harassment victims and advocacy leaders. Comcast must prove to its shareholders that it will pursue the truth on behalf of NBC staffers. If necessary, it should remove executives who have abused or silenced women.
One last thing…
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