A new report in the Daily Beast accuses Andrew Lack, the NBC News Chairman who oversaw the firing of Matt Lauer, of mishandling an alleged workplace sexual harassment claim before his time at NBC. In 2004, when Lack was the chairman and CEO of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, music executive Charlie Walk was accused of sending pornographic images and other inappropriate missives to his female colleagues, according to executives who worked there at the time—some anonymous, others on record. One unnamed executive said that he or she urged Lack to act, and he wouldn’t. (Walk’s alleged harassment, which he’s denied, was the subject of a Rolling Stone article from earlier this year.) An NBC spokesperson denied the allegation to the Daily Beast, saying, “Lack had no knowledge of any allegations against Charlie Walk in the six years he was at Sony. If he did, he would have acted within minutes.” A Sony Music spokesperson had no comment.
Lack has previously been part two major, and very different, stories that involved sexual harassment and NBC. Most recently, former NBC News producer Rick McHugh told The New York Times that an order came from “the very highest levels of NBC” to stop Ronan Farrow, then an NBC News reporter, from his reporting on Harvey Weinstein. (Farrow eventually published his bombshell report at The New Yorker, ending Weinstein’s career and winning a Pulitzer in the process.) Though McHugh did not name Lack, the executive wrote a memo to employees to attempt to “clear the air.” It read, in part:
We regret the deterioration of NBC’s relationship with Ronan, and genuinely wish we had found a path to move forward together. That is why, in August of 2017, when Farrow objected to his editors’ conclusion we convened an independent group of the most experienced investigative journalists in our organization to review his material with fresh eyes. We asked them—tell us what, if anything, we can broadcast. But their conclusion was unequivocal — this story is not ready for air. (Further, they found several elements in Farrow’s draft script which did not hold up to scrutiny—described in the accompanying document.) It was Farrow’s decision, in the midst of this process, to pursue the story elsewhere.
Months after Farrow left NBC in 2017, Today show anchor Matt Lauer was fired from NBC after accusations of widespread sexual harassment (Lauer denies the allegations); there were questions at the time about how much Lack, a personal friend of Lauer’s, knew and when he knew it. An internal probe done by and for NBCUniversal exonerated its own leadership.
Lack, however, has been credited for swiftly moving to fire of Lauer, despite their close friendship, after the extent of the allegations became public.