NBCUniversal will release former employees who have experienced sexual harassment and misconduct from non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, Rachel Maddow announced on her Friday night show. Maddow had Ronan Farrow on her show to discuss his new book, Catch and Kill, which demonstrates “there was a pattern at [NBC] in terms of women making allegations against Matt Lauer and of being paid off and signing away their rights to speak about it all before he was fired,” Maddow said.
“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,” NBCUniversal’s statement reads. The network denies that there is any truth to the claims made in Farrow’s book. While speaking to Maddow, Farrow praised NBCUniversal for their statement and for making moves toward greater transparency and the freedom to speak out.
Non-disclosure agreements became a contested topic as more people came forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations. NDAs are often used to protect proprietary information, such as the plot to an unreleased film or what features are coming out on the next generation of iPhones. In light of the #MeToo movement, it was discovered that countless victims and witnesses in multiple cases were given NDAs to keep them from talking about crimes, misconduct, and systematic abuses of power.
The day before the book was published, NBC News’ president, Noah Oppenheim, published a letter denying the claim that Farrow’s story about Harvey Weinstein was sidelined, calling the book a “smear.”
Maddow addressing these allegations, as an employee of NBCUniversal’s cable channel MSNBC, comes with complications for the news anchor. “I have been through a lot of ups and downs in this company since I’ve been here. It would be impossible to overstate the amount of consternation around this issue,” she said. She also discussed Farrow’s claim that NBC News asked him to put a “pause in any new reporting” on Weinstein. “We have independently confirmed that NBC News did that,” Maddow informed viewers. “That did happen. He was told to pause his reporting.”
Unlike the claim that Farrow was asked to put a hold on reporting about Weinstein, his statements about Lauer and the practice of silencing women with NDAs and payouts have not been independently investigated, according to Maddow.