Tina Tchen's comments come after Rachel Maddow interviewed Ronan Farrow and said she was independently confirmed that NBC News executives halted his Weinstein story leading him to take it to The New Yorker.
In the wake of bombshell reporting by Ronan Farrow, NBCUniversal came out with a statement that basically said former employees who want to speak out about any issues of harassment they may have experienced can now contact the company to be released from their non-disclosure agreements, but Time's Up president Tina Tchen says this isn't enough.
At issue for Tchen is the prerequisite that anyone seeking to speak out about their experiences with the company must first contact NBCU. "This is an example of the burdens that perpetuate fear and silence, no matter what new policies and trainings may say," she wrote in a series of tweets demanding more.
In a statement read on Rachel Maddow's show Friday, NBCU 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."
First, NBCU is carefully qualifying this statement to say it is a "perceived obligation," implying that perhaps there is nothing legally prohibiting these people from coming forward. But the real problem for Tchen is that people who feel like they were victims of harassment at NBC News, and perhaps did not get a satisfactory result from the company if they did complain, must now reach back out to NBCU before they go forward.
Also, if the obligation is just "perceived," then what would NBCU have to release them from? This implication is that these women and men may just be free to speak anyway. If the obligation isn't real and is just perceived, then why have them contact the company at all. Just tell them it's all in their heads and they're free to speak to whomever they want about whatever they want.
As for Tchen, she wants NBCU to do just that, blanket release everyone from NDAs that may or may not be really keeping them from speaking out and while you're at it, take it a step further and allow for outside investigations into the NBC News divisions.
There is no reason to place the burden on those who choose to speak to reveal themselves in advance to @NBCUniversal. This is an example of the burdens that perpetuate fear and silence, no matter what new policies and trainings may say.
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, @NBCUniversal should want to know the unvarnished truth.
In regards to Farrow's book "Catch and Kill," NBC News chairman Andy Lack and president Noah Oppenheim have denied the allegations in it and called the book a "smear" job. Oppenheim also denied that the network pushed back against Farrow's Weinstein story when he began to suggest allegations against Matt Lauer as well.
The network says that an internal investigation found "no claims or settlements relating to allegations of inappropriate conduct by Matt Lauer that pre-date his firing." Lauer was fired in November 2017 over allegations of sexual misconduct. Lauer denies the allegations brought against him.
Farrow told Maddow he was pleased with NBC executives for freeing women from their severance agreements so they can speak. "The fact that they are ending that and releasing these women is significant," he said. "It should be a model for other companies."
According to Deadline, Maddow confirmed Farrow's claim that NBC News executives told him to "pause in any new reporting" on Harvey Weinstein, but NBC denies this was because of any fears relating to Lauer or anything else. Instead, the network claims it was simply a matter of Farrow's reporting not being up to their standards.
Credit where due: @maddow, independently confirming my reporting that Weinstein story was halted by NBC execs and calling her bosses to account on their own air—not an easy thing, for her or her staff— did this. https://t.co/KW75by4oJT
But Maddow had her team do their own independent reporting on Farrow's claims that NBC News executives stopped his investigation, and was able to verify his claims. Fox News had that angle. She also described "consternation" that NBC went with an internal investigation after allowing the story to leave its office before it could be told.
"The Weinstein story having to leave the building in order to get told and combine that with another previous gigantic story on a related subject, the 'Access Hollywood' tape-Billy Bush story also having to leave this building in order to get told, the amount of consternation this has caused among the rank-and-file people who work here would be almost impossible for me to overstate," Maddow told her viewers.
Farrow famously took his story to The New Yorker and ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on a story that is largely credited with launching the #MeToo movement, and subseqently Time's Up.