Comcast chairman Brian Roberts has rejected multiple proposals from investors to order an outside investigation into sexual harassment at NBC News, including who knew about former "Today" host Matt Lauer's behavior.
Roberts was confronted over ongoing frustration over NBCUniversal parent Comcast's decision not to seek an independent review of NBC News during a shareholders meeting on Wednesday, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times and confirmed by Fox News.
“Comcast urged shareholders to reject the independent review, saying ‘our company has been built on a foundation of respect, integrity and trust, and we are committed to creating a work environment that promotes those values,’” the Times reported.
National Center for Public Policy Research general counsel Justin Danhof was on the webcast and confirmed that Roberts shot down a request from investors to enlist an outside investigator.
“It was a shareholder proposal from the far-left group Arjuna Capital. Comcast's board recommended voting against it and it was rejected,” Danhof told Fox News.
NBCUniversal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Comcast and NBC have been fending off calls for an outside probe for years.
The Peacock Network has been accused of botching a variety of sexual misconduct issues, ranging from a claim that Ronan Farrow’s award-winning coverage of Harvey Weinstein wasn’t fit to print to insisting the investigation into Lauer’s workplace sexual misconduct be piloted by fellow NBC executives instead of an outside entity.
Lauer was fired for his own sexual misconduct shortly after The New Yorker published Farrow’s Weinstein reporting. NBC famously refused to allow outside counsel to investigate who knew about Lauer’s sexual wrongdoings. Instead of enlisting a top, outside law firm – as other news organizations dealing with internal sex harassment issues, including Fox News had done – NBC allowed in-house General Counsel Kim Harris to conduct the review.
Harris’ internal review eventually declared that NBC management was completely oblivious to Lauer’s lewd behavior. The results of the NBC review were mocked by media watchdogs and NBC employees alike, while former NBC News star Ann Curry declared she did not participate despite expressing publicly to the Washington Post that she had complained to senior NBC News executives about Lauer’s behavior.
Lauer was back in the news recently for criticizing Farrow’s reporting.
Lauer – who has denied non-consensual claims against him -- argued in a recent column that Farrow failed to confirm stories from his main sources, "failed" to provide evidence of communication between Lauer and his accusers, and used misleading language "to manipulate readers into believing things that could easily be false, or were at least unprovable" when writing his 2019 book “Catch and Kill.”
Last year, a group of high-powered women in media sent a harshly worded letter to NBC parent company Comcast demanding answers.
The letter urged its board of directors to “override NBC’s decision and launch a full investigation of sexual misconduct within the news division,” allowed current and former staffers to speak out despite non-disclosure agreements and have an in-person meeting with sexual harassment victims and advocacy leaders.
“Certain network executives have enabled a corporate culture of widespread sexual harassment and abuse, and are still trying to cover it up today,” the letter said. “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.”
A different women’s group even protested outside NBC’s New York City headquarters to no avail.
Calls for NBC News to be held accountable for its "toxic culture” grew so loud that then-presidential candidates Tom Steyer and Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren signed a 2019 letter urging the Democratic National Committee to take action ahead of a primary debate on MSNBC, but no public action was taken.
Last month it was reported that the New York attorney general's office was looking into NBC News over reported claims of sexual harassment
The office of the New York attorney general has declined to confirm the matter, but Linda Vester, a onetime NBC correspondent and former Fox News anchor, told Fox News that she was interviewed by the New York attorney general office about NBC on January 7.
The New York attorney general's office declined comment when asked for confirmation on Thursday.