The Shame of NBC News

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

One of the more bizarre twists in the ongoing story of Megyn Kelly’s ignominious exit from NBC News was the report that Kelly’s lawyer demanded to NBC executives that Ronan Farrow be present when the two sides meet about Kelly’s departure.

This is not going to happen, obviously. Farrow is not some magical avatar of justice who can be deployed by anyone at any time, and NBC is surely not in the business of letting random people attend highly sensitive contractual negotiations. But it’s grimly appropriate that Farrow and Kelly are now being linked together, because they are the two people who most symbolize both the rot at the heart of NBC News and the catastrophic failures of its chairman, Andrew Lack.

Let’s just go through some of them.

It was Lack who led the push to bring Kelly on; who threw a reported $69 million at her; who ignored her well-documented history of racism; and who shoved two well-liked, successful black hosts aside for a morning show that nobody with any grip on sanity thought was a good idea.


It was also Lack whose network reportedly threw up so many barriers to Farrow’s #MeToo reporting—for reasons that have never made any legitimate sense—that Farrow walked out the door. His former producer called it “a massive breach of journalistic integrity” and said that NBC had ordered him to “stand down” on his reporting about Harvey Weinstein. (The network denies this.)

It was also Lack who presided over the sordid boys club which produced a series of powerful alleged sexual harassers, including Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw, and who has been accused of repeatedly letting sexual harassment slide at companies he oversees, a charge he denies. (The one thing that rings true about Kelly’s version of her time at NBC is that she’s partially being punished for her relatively merciless coverage of the network’s sexual harassment scandals.)


It was also Lack whose network sat on Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape—a tape from an NBC show!—for so long that it lost its own scoop.

To sum up: NBC News decided that it wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars on a racist Fox News host. At the same time, it decided that it didn’t want to produce historically important journalism on sexual harassment and assault at the same time as it was employing people with a rampant history of alleged sexual misconduct. And it couldn’t even beat its competitors on a major story about footage it owned. I haven’t even mentioned its continued employment of Brian Williams, another Lack buddy.


This is a record of deep shame. It was a wonder that Lack, and NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, still had their jobs even before the Kelly crisis. It’s hard to see how they can look anyone who works for them in the eye, let alone carry on in their jobs, now that the Kelly situation has blown up in their faces so spectacularly.

Update, 2:27 p.m. ET: That’s a wrap, folks.