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Democratic Presidential Candidates Call on Comcast to Investigate NBC For ‘Toxic Culture’

On the eve of an MSNBC-hosted Democratic primary, four candidates have signed a letter requesting that Comcast, the parent company of MSNBC, to investigate NBC News’ handling of recent sexual misconduct allegations reported in Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill.

The letter, organized by anti-sexism activist organization UltraViolet and signed by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, was sent to DNC Chair Tom Perez.

The letter reads in part “We, the undersigned candidates, are very concerned about the message it would send to sexual assault survivors if our next debate is sponsored by MSNBC without clear commitments from Comcast, the parent company of NBC and MSNBC, to conduct an independent investigation into the toxic culture that enabled abusers and silenced survivors.”

“The troubling reports about management’s role to cover up abuse demonstrate that Comcast should have and needs to do more to shift the work culture and pursue significant structural changes in order to prevent future harassment and abuse at NBC and MSNBC,” the letter states.

NBC News leadership, namely Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheimer,  have received criticism for allegedly spiking Farrow’s initial report on Harvey Weinstein, which was later published by The New Yorker, and helped launch a generation-defining shift in social mores better known as the MeToo movement.

The letter also demands that NBC:

  • Fire NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, MSNBC executive Phil Griffin, and every person in leadership that enabled abusers, silenced survivors and failed to protect employees from abuse.
  • Release all Comcast/NBCUniversal survivors from non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts and settlement agreements. Terminate the use of non-disclosure clauses in employment contracts and settlement agreements and end the use of clauses mandating arbitration to resolve claims involving pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or other protected statuses.
  • Commission an independent, outside organization with expertise on sexual violence to conduct a comprehensive internal audit and release the findings of the results to the public and to shareholders.
  • Implement structural disincentives to harassment and abuse.
  • Provide sexual harassment, anti-sexism, and anti-harassment training at every level within your corporation and its subsidiaries.
  • Ensure safety for survivors through anonymous reporting channels, protections against retaliation and ending the use of mechanisms to silence survivors.

UltraViolet also sent an open letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts calling on him to commit to proactively develop a safe, equitable work culture that truly addresses abuses of power and laid out the crucial steps that the organization should take to do so. Comcast has yet to respond.

Since then, Farrow has released more salacious details surrounding former Today anchor Matt Lauer, including the allegations of raping an underling with whom he had engaged in a consensual relationship.

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