The new leader of Time’s Up, the prolific anti-sexual misconduct organization with star-studded backers, is demanding that NBCUniversal break all of its nondisclosure agreements the company has with former employees who have been sexually harassed.
Tina Tchen, the organization’s incoming president and CEO, also urged NBCUniversal to launch an independent investigation into the company’s workplace culture, including its journalistic ethics.
She called out the company on Saturday night, one day after NBCUniversal vowed to let former employees break their agreements with the company ― as long as they first spoke directly with the company’s legal team.
“If NBC is truly committed to letting survivors and employees speak out about sexual harassment at the network, it should simply release them from their non-disclosure agreements,” Tchen tweeted. ”[Time’s Up] calls on [NBC Universal] to announce unequivocally that they are free to speak without any fear of retaliation.”
Tchen, who worked in the Obama administration, stepped in as president and CEO of Time’s Up earlier this month after the organization’s former leader, Lisa Borders, abruptly resigned. Borders was facing pressure to step down while her son faced his own scandal involving sexual misconduct accusations.
Tchen said that NBCUniversal needed to pursue an “independent, outside investigation,” which would include NBC News’ “journalistic decisions made at this important news outlet.”
“Workplace harassment remains hidden not just by direct retaliation, but also when there is a fear that anyone who speaks or reports will be silenced. As an employer and especially as a news organization [NBC] should want to know the unvarnished truth,” she said.
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal declined to respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Tchens’ requests. HuffPost has also reached out to NBC News.
NBC announced its new NDA policy on Friday night’s episode of the “Rachel Maddow Show,” shortly before Maddow interviewed investigative journalist Ronan Farrow about his new book, “Catch and Kill,” which looks into the ways powerful figures evade negative publicity and attention for their misconduct and misdeeds.
NBCUniversal’s statement reads:
Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation.
The media conglomerate’s efforts to release former staffers from their NDAs appear to follow the release of Farrow’s book.
In “Catch and Kill,” Farrow alleges that NBC News tried to block his investigation of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct and attempted to cover up sexual assault allegations against Matt Lauer, the longtime host of NBC’s “Today” show.
Unable to get the network to publish his story, Farrow took his findings to The New Yorker, which eventually published his Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé on Weinstein in October 2017.
His reporting, along with The New York Times’ bombshell report on Weinstein in 2017, propelled the Me Too movement against sexual assault into a national spotlight, eventually leading to the creation of Time’s Up.
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim reportedly denied that his organization did anything wrong before the release of Farrow’s book.
In a memo to employees obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Oppenheim said the company has “no secrets and nothing to hide” and described “Catch and Kill” as Farrow’s effort to defame NBC News.