NBC News Chief Andy Lack Allegedly Covered Up Matt Lauer's Sexual Misconduct

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Who Is Andy Lack? New Details On NBC News Chief Who Covered Up Matt Lauer's Sexual Misconduct

Ronan Farrow's new book Catch and Kill details the process of reporting the story about Harvey Weinstein's systemic sexual abuse of dozens of women. One of the largest obstacles in bringing the story to press was the leadership of NBC News, where Farrow worked. The top executives of the news division kept demanding Farrow slow or halt his reporting. Farrow learned later that many of them were caving to pressure from Weinstein himself.

One of the executives pushing back on the story was Andy Lack, the president of NBC News. A veteran TV executive, Lack also has a history of committing and enabling workplace harassment of women. He has had multiple workplace affairs where he turned on women after the relationship ended, sometimes ruining their careers. And he has a documented track record of allegedly ignoring or covering up misconduct by other men in organizations where he works. Farrow's writing about Lack is a stark illustration of the way some powerful men will do anything to protect other powerful men. 

Who is Andy Lack? Read on for all the details. 

1. Andy Lack's career

Lack started his media career as a producer at CBS, where he won multiple Emmy and Peabody awards. He was hired as president of NBC News in 1993, eventually rising to be president of the entire network, and remained there until 2004 when he took over as CEO of Sony Music. He was removed by the board at Sony in 2008. He spent a few years as CEO of Bloomberg News before returning back to NBC's news division in 2015. 

2. He was almost unrelenting

Jane Wallace was the co-anchor of the now-defunct CBS show "West 57th" in the 1980s. Andy Lack was the executive producer at the time. Wallace recalls that he was almost unrelenting in his invitation to take her out to celebrate her new job. “If your boss does that, what are you gonna say?” Wallace told Farrow, according to PageSix. “You know if you say ‘I don’t want to celebrate with you,’ you’re asking for trouble.” Not long after that, Wallace recalls she and Lack began a sexual relationship that was "ultimately consensual, but I didn’t just get flirted with. I got worked over.”

Once the affair ended, Lack drove her out of her job at CBS through relentless bullying. “As she left the show, she recalled him yelling, ‘You will never get credit,’” Farrow wrote. “Then the network deployed a tactic that the public was barely conscious of at the time: it offered her a substantial payout to sign a binding nondisclosure agreement.”

“It wasn’t till I really got out of there that I felt the full force of it. Of how disgusted I was,” she told Farrow. “The truth is, if [Lack] hadn’t been like that, I would have kept that job. I loved that job.”

RELATED: Meet The Israeli Spy Harvey Weinstein Hired To Get Close To Rose McGowan To Undermine Actress' Case

3. There's a reason why you don't get involved with your boss

Wallace wasn't the only co-worker Lack pursued sexually. Farrow spoke with Jennifer Laird, an associate producer who worked with Lack in his first stint at NBC and who also had an affair with him. As with Wallace, the affair ended and Lack turned hostile towards her. “When Laird asked to be reassigned, Lack wouldn’t allow it,” Farrow wrote. “He compelled her to work longer hours, and on weekends, and proposed she cancel vacations.”

“There’s clearly a reason you don’t get involved with your boss,” Laird told Farrow.

RELATED: 'Marco Polo' Producer Alleges Harvey Weinstein Sexually Assaulted Her For Years, Threatened Her Career

4. Sexual harassment cover-up at Sony

When Lack was at Sony Music, he reportedly failed to act when he found out that a music executive named Charlie Walk routinely harassed women. The Daily Beast reports that multiple women made complaints about Walk over the course of years. "Kate Harold, for one, said in 2006 Walk forcibly kissed her and rubbed his penis through clothing against her during a business dinner. Pam Kaye, who was a promotional manager working under Walk at Columbia Records, said he tried to put his hands down her pants while they were in a car together in 2004," the outlet notes.

Walk also stood accused of sending harassing messages, including graphic pornography, to female employees using his company email. Executives who knew about the behavior implored Lack to take action. “I kept telling him: ‘You must do something about this. It’s imperative,’” one of the executives said. “Andy would turn a blind eye to making difficult decisions.”

Lack never did anything. Walk continued to work in the music industry until women went public with their allegations against him this year. 

5. Why would you do that?

In 2015, NBC lured Lack back to 30 Rock to help deal with the fallout from false statements made by Brian Williams. The anchor had claimed he was in a helicopter forced down by enemy fire. He wasn't and the lie cost him a six-month suspension and trashed NBC's reputation as a news provider. Lack's return was supposed to be a guiding light through the credibility crisis but people who had known him in his earlier years at the network worried he would bring an escalation of the already sexually hostile atmosphere many female employees faced. “‘Why would you do that?’ one executive recalled asking [NBCUniversal CEO] Steve Burke upon learning of his decision to reinstate Lack,” Catch and Kill said. “‘The reason you have those cultural problems down there — he created that!’”

RELATED: MSNBC President Allegedly Shared Naked Photo Of Maria Menounos With Staff

6. Matt Lauer worship

Lack was close with Matt Lauer in the 1990s and he was the one who put Lauer in the Today anchor chair after Bryant Gumbel retired in 1997. That move was a watershed moment for Today, which would become a $25 million annual ad revenue generator. Even after he left NBC to work at Sony then Bloomberg, Lack would brag to people about how close he was to Lauer. The Daily Beast reports that he talked about Lauer all the time at Bloomberg. "He had total Matt Lauer worship,” said a former Bloomberg executive. “I asked him ‘Are the rumors true? And he responded by saying ‘Matt can’t help himself. He loves people. Matt’s a very friendly guy.’”

The rumors that the Bloomberg executive referenced related to Lauer's well-known history of having sexual contact with women in the workplace. Ann Curry says she talked to NBC leadership about Lauer as early as 2010 after finding a coworker crying after being "physically sexually harassed" by Lauer. He had allegedly exposed his erect penis to her and when she declined to have sexual contact with him, he said “You’re a f–king tease. This is not good. You led me on.”

“She was afraid of losing her job… I believed her,” Curry said later, according to Variety. “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women.”

Variety notes that the New York Times reported on an incident wherein Lauer brought a female coworker to his office, locked his door via remote button, and sexually assaulted her until she passed out. One of his staff had to take her to the in-house nurse afterward. 

Lack may have considered all of this the acts of a "friendly guy" but the women involved consider it assault. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Heather McDonald (@heathermcdonald) on Oct 10, 2019 at 8:12am PDT

Lauer had a long reputation for harassment. 

7. "I bled for days"

Lack, despite his alleged career-long aversion to instituting consequences against sexual harassment, finally had to fire his good friend Lauer in 2017 when news broke that Lauer had assaulted an NBC reporter in Sochi while covering the Olympics. Brooke Nevils told Ronan Farrow her story about being invited to Lauer's room where he began making sexual advances. He asked if she liked anal sex and she said she didn't want to do that with him. She went on to described a brutal anal rape that left her injured. She told Farrow "I bled for days."

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“It was non-consensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she tells Farrow in the book. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”

Lack claimed he only learned of this incident in 2017 and he immediately called Lauer in to discuss it. Lauer was fired hours later. Lack insisted that the complaint was the first he had ever heard about Lauer. The assertion that Lack had never before heard any complaints about Lauer has been met with skepticism by employees at NBC who have long known that he was sexually aggressive with staff. 

8. Catch and Kill

In Farrow's new book Catch and Kill, he described a concerted effort by NBC higher-ups to slow — or even halt — his reporting on the story that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial rapist. In his reporting for the book, Farrow learned that Lack had been in direct contact with Weinstein himself multiple times and that Weinstein was pressuring him to kill the story. Lack was part of the senior management team that was standing in the way of running the story. The excuse he used then and now was that it wasn't ready to be published when Farrow brought it to management for approval. 

Farrow ultimately took his reporting to The New Yorker where it was published 53 days later. The story won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Ronan Farrow (@ronanfarrow) on Oct 20, 2019 at 3:00pm PDT

Catch and Kill presents a devastating condemnation of Andy Lack. 

The revelations about Lack's obstruction of a story that important have led some to suggest that he is responsible for perpetuating a system of abuse in media and entertainment industries and that his employment at the network should be reconsidered. 

As of this writing, Andy Lack is still president of NBC News. Catch and Kill currently sits at the top of multiple bestseller lists. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.