Following criticism inspired by Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill,” NBCUniversal said Friday it will release former employees from nondisclosure agreements so that they may publicly discuss sexual harassment or misconduct accusations.
In a statement first made public by Rachel Maddow during her MSNBC show on Friday, the network 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.”
Maddow read the statement while speaking to Farrow about his nonfiction book, which details not just serious accusations of sexual misconduct but the lengths taken by powerful figures to keep the accusations from becoming public. During the interview, Farrow said NBCUniversal deserved praise for the NDA decision, and that many women he spoke to while writing the book “felt constrained” and “agonized” by their confidentially agreements.
“I think this will go a long way towards making them feel that they can discuss this openly,” he added.
Farrow originally worked on what would become his bombshell Harvey Weinstein expose for NBC News, but the network killed the story in August 2017. Farrow subsequently took it to The New Yorker, which published the report just two months later. NBC said it killed the story because the reporting was incomplete, and that Farrow had no accusers willing to go on the record. However, multiple women went on the record for the New Yorker article; Farrow eventually won a Pulitzer prize.
Farrow and his producer at the time, Rich McHugh, said NBC News executives instructed him to stop reporting on Weinstein’s behavior because of pressure on the network from the disgraced mogul. In his book, Farrow also insinuates that NBC may have killed the story because Weinstein attempted to leverage accusations of sexual misconduct against former “Today” show host Matt Lauer. Both NBC News and Weinstein have denied this claim.
Since the book’s release, there have since been widespread calls for NBC to release employees from their nondisclosure agreements, including from former NBC personality Megyn Kelly, who also called on the network to submit to an outside investigation into how it handled accusations against Lauer. So far, the network says it will not do so.
NBC Universal did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment from TheWrap.