Could this explain yesterday’s shake-up at NBC News? Late in the afternoon, NBCUniversal announced a restructuring of the executive office in the news division, with chair Andrew Lack getting the heave-ho. Lack had previously announced he’d leave after the presidential election, but NBCUniversal apparently couldn’t wait that long:
The new boss of NBCUniversal announced a surprise shakeup Monday that will include the ouster of longtime NBC News chairman Andy Lack.
Jeff Shell’s restructuring means Lack — who came under fire after Ronan Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill” accused NBC News executives including Lack’s right-hand man Noah Oppenheim of killing his Harvey Weinstein reporting — will leave at the end of the month, instead of after the 2020 presidential election as previously planned.
Lack, who has also been accused of downplaying an explosive rape allegation against former “Today” host Matt Lauer, will be replaced by Telemundo chief Cesar Conde, who will oversee NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.
“There had been talk of management changes for a while,” said a source close to NBC. “Andy is so past his prime. Between the Ronan debacle, the Lauer debacle and even before that the Megyn Kelly and Brian Williams debacles, it’s no wonder he’s out.”
The Farrow revelation might be even more on point than first thought. According to the Daily Mail, New York’s attorney general Letitia James has opened an investigation into sexual assault and discrimination allegations at NBC News, and Lack has become a subject of interest to the probe. The name of the AG’s investigative team sounds like a direct slap at Lack himself, in fact:
More than a dozen women have been interviewed by officials from a Civil Division department dubbed ‘The Weinstein Unit’ following its investigation into the disgraced movie mogul who was jailed earlier this year after being convicted of rape.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, former NBC News anchor Linda Vester said she was one of the women interviewed about alleged violations at the network. …
Sources told DailyMail.com the unit has been looking into claims of sexual harassment and discrimination at the network for at least six months.
Vester told the Daily Mail that investigators have taken a very granular interest in Lack. In particular, they want to know about his involvement in attacking the public reputation of those who tried to blow the whistle, if any:
[Vester] added: ‘They asked me to re-tell, not just the initial harassment I had experienced but also more importantly, they wanted to know about [chairman] Andy Lack and what I knew about his involvement in retaliation against me and by NBC News once I came forward with my story.
‘They wanted to know as many details as I could offer about what Andy Lack’s involvement was in orchestrating a public response against me and a defense or cover-up. He was one of many.’
That sounds more like a civil than criminal matter, but the state’s laws likely gives the AG room to pursue civil damages in such cases. The timing of all this is curious, though. Vester’s work with the AG’s investigators took place in January. Why push Lack out now? Perhaps NBCUniversal got word that the probe had leaked to the Daily Mail or other news outlets, which would make it look like Lack had bigger problems than just killing Farrow’s reporting on Big Harv and taking too long to kick Matt Lauer to the curb.
In fact, Tucker Carlson discussed the probe last night when Fox’s Rich McHugh revealed the investigation into NBC News. Tucker offers up some I told you so’s before turning to McHugh. This conversation took place just after NBCUniversal announced its shakeup. McHugh says that the probe is coming out of its civil division, but that doesn’t preclude criminal charges, either.
As McHugh notes, booting Lack gives NBC a chance to start over fresh, but McHugh says victims from NBC’s ranks are not going to be satisfied — especially while Noah Oppenheim remains in the executive suite. “If they’re going to clean house,” McHugh says, “they need to really clean house.” Indeed.