Oct 26, 2019

Rachel Maddow confronts NBC's handling of sexual misconduct allegations on air

Rachel Maddow. Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow confronted her network's parent company, NBCUniversal, on Friday night over its handling of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and former NBC anchor Matt Lauer.

"I've been through a lot of ups and downs at this company since I've been here. It would be impossible for me to overstate the amount of consternation inside the building around this issue."

What she's saying: Before interviewing investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, Maddow also questioned why NBC News executives chose not to pursue an independent investigation into the Weinstein events and accusations against Lauer.

  • In a statement that Maddow read live Friday evening, she revealed that NBCUniversal would release former employees from “perceived obligation” to remain silent about harassment in the workplace, referring to nondisclosure or non-disparagement clauses in ex-employees' exit agreements.

Why it matters: Maddow's on-air comments were "likely to increase pressure on the NBC News leadership team, including the chairman, Andrew Lack, and the news division president, Noah Oppenheim, who have faced scrutiny from the press and inside network headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza," the Times writes.

The big picture: Farrow's new book, "Catch and Kill," sheds new light on complaints about Lauer, allegations against Weinstein and Farrow's personal fallout with NBC News over his reporting.

  • Reports have surfaced that the network tried to stifle Farrow's 2017 reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein while at the network, saying his work did not NBC's meet journalistic standards.
  • Oppenheim, in mid-October, characterized claims against NBC in the book as a "smear."
  • In a Friday statement, NBC News said it “very much wanted to break this story, which is why we assigned it and supported it editorially and financially for seven months. We’re profoundly disappointed that we weren’t able to do so.”

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios and NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is on our board of directors.

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
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  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.