Comcast’s investigation into ousted NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell stemmed from a complaint filed by CNBC anchor and senior international correspondent Hadley Gamble.
“The investigation into Mr. Shell arose from a complaint by my client of sexual harassment and sex discrimination,” Gamble’s attorney Suzanne McKie of Farore Law said in a statement. “Given these circumstances, it is very disappointing that my client’s name has been released and her privacy violated.”
Gamble, who is based from CNBC’s Middle East headquarters in Abu Dhabi, covers energy, geopolitics and financial markets and is the anchor of “Capital Connection.” She also presents CNBC’s popular documentary franchise ‘Access: Middle East’, where she speaks to world leaders, international CEOs and philanthropists. She has worked at CNBC since 2010.
Two sources familiar with Gamble’s situation at CNBC told TheWrap that her contract was up and had not been renewed, a decision she learned of prior to her decision to pursue a complaint against Shell. McKie did not respond to a request for comment about Gamble’s status at the network, while a CNBC representative declined to comment.
Gamble was the last Western journalist to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin in October 2021 before the war in Ukraine. She has continued to cover the Russia-Ukraine conflict, speaking to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, EC President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson live on CNBC. She was also the first international journalist to report live from Saudi Aramco following the 2019 terror attacks and the first journalist to speak live to a Saudi official following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Prior to CNBC, Gamble worked for ABC News and Fox News in Washington, producing news programs and covering national and international political events, including the 2008 presidential debates, election night 2008 and the inauguration of former President Barack Obama.
In a memo to employees on Sunday, Shell apologized for having “an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.”
“I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege,” he added.
Comcast confirmed in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that it retained outside counsel to investigate allegations that Shell engaged in inappropriate conduct with a female employee.
“During the investigation, evidence was uncovered that corroborated the allegations,” the media conglomerate added. “As a consequence, on April 23, 2023, the Company terminated Mr. Shell’s employment With Cause under his employment agreement, effective immediately.”
Shell, who first joined Comcast in 2004, took power as NBCUniversal CEO at the start of 2020 after working for the previous five years as the chairman of Universal Film and Entertainment Group. He is the second executive in the past three years to depart NBCUniversal over inappropriate conduct, as former vice chairman Ron Meyer left the company in August 2020 over an extramarital affair with actress Charlotte Kirk.
Comcast president Mike Cavanagh will serve as Shell’s permanent replacement, an insider confirmed to TheWrap, assuming responsibility for Shell’s direct reports while retaining his title as president of Comcast.
“We are disappointed to share this news with you. We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace. When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here,” Cavanagh and Comcast chairman Brian Roberts said in a memo to employees. “Please know that NBCUniversal is performing extremely well operationally and financially, and we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about our position and prospects going forward. We are fortunate to have an experienced, world-class group of executives leading this incredible company.”
Shell’s termination comes as Comcast is gearing up to report its first quarter earnings for 2023 on Thursday. Shares of Comcast are trading flat following news of the executive shakeup.
Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.