The head of NBC News, Andy Lack, will leave the organization at the end of the month after two lengthy stints at the outlet, vacating his position under lingering allegations linked to misconduct and sexual harassment.
“NBC News Group President Andy Lack has decided to step down and will transition out of the company at the end of the month,” NBCUniversal said in a statement on Monday, announcing a sweeping corporate restructuring that will consolidate a long list of networks into one division.
The shake-up at the Comcast-owned media giant will see a number of its television networks – including MSNBC, Bravo, SYFY, Oxygen, E! and USA – collapse into a single division headed by Mark Lazarus, the chairman of television and streaming at NBCUniversal. Lack, meanwhile, will be replaced by Telemundo’s current chairman, Cesar Conde, who will take on oversight of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC.
After leaving NBC’s news division in 2001 for the top echelons of the television network, Lack returned for a second run in 2015, rejoining NBC News and MSNBC in the wake of a ratings-killing scandal surrounding anchor Brian Williams, who falsely claimed on air to have come under rocket fire while reporting from Iraq, resulting in a six-month suspension without pay.
Lack’s long career at the network was not free of controversy. He was accused of mishandling sexual-harassment complaints directed at NBC anchor Matt Lauer – who was ultimately fired in 2017 for inappropriate behavior in the workplace – allegedly outing Lauer’s accuser after vowing to keep her identity confidential. Journalist Ronan Farrow would later cite multiple sources in his book, ‘Catch and Kill’, who said that not only were NBC higher-ups aware of Lauer’s misconduct long before his firing, but that disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein used the story to successfully blackmail the network into halting an investigation into his own sexual harassment scandal.
Update on this: Andrew Lack is stepping down, after public protests calling for leadership change and a unionization effort within the company demanding more transparency about harassment issues there. Grateful to the sources who spoke. https://t.co/gHrDwJRJTX
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) May 4, 2020
Andy Lack is the guy who reportedly killed Ronan Farrow’s reporting on the Harvey Weinstein sex crimes. That means he’ll probably become Joe Biden’s top advisor now.https://t.co/3X2vZ8v4MM
— Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) May 4, 2020
The NBC chief’s resignation triggered a spate of different theories online, with some speculating Lack left the outlet not due to fallout over the Weinstein scandal, but rather because of MSNBC’s more recent reporting on sexual assault allegations dogging Joe Biden, the former vice president and the presumptive Democratic nominee for 2020.
MSNBC now appears to be leaking that it ousted Andy Lack for burying the Harvey Weinstein story. Uh, no. He should have been ousted for that, but it happened forever ago. The timing makes it so obvious that this is about the phony Biden scandal. But by all means, spin it however.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) May 4, 2020
Reade’s story has been unraveling like a roll of toilet paper. Andy Lack @MSNBC just resigned over his decision to do a hit job on Biden. I suggest you do the same.
— Lynn Beckman (@lynn1219) May 5, 2020
Now that Andrew Lack is out maybe @MSNBC will return to decent reporting and reporters.They went so far right and had a devastating impact on the 2016 election being anti-Hillary.And yes, they’ve begun this cycle doing the same to Biden. Too many are BernieBros.#GoBiden
— Corrupt Barr and Trump (@Serendipity7845) May 4, 2020
Others argued that while Lack’s exit came “a few months earlier than expected,” it shouldn’t be seen as a company coup, given that he returned to NBC in 2015 in a more or less “temporary” role and that his contract was due to expire later this year regardless. More puzzling, however, is the fact that Noah Oppenheim, who was expected to take over at NBC after Lack, was not tapped as his replacement, with the position handed to Conde instead.
It’s notable that Noah Oppenheim was long expected to take over for Andy Lack as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC. He did not get that promotion today. (Oppenheim faced heavy criticism in Ronan Farrow’s book and also internally from some NBC employees.)
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) May 4, 2020
While Andy Lack is retiring a few months earlier than expected, I wouldn’t say that he’s being pushed out or anything like that. He came back as a sort of temporary crisis manager to right the ship — it’s an open question whether he was successful.
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) May 4, 2020
A number of critics also weighed in to question the new chairman’s fitness for the role, slamming Conde for his ties to mega corporations Walmart and PepsiCo, where he sits on the board of directors.
“Cesar Conde is even more of a corporate [lackey] than Andy Lack. Conde is on the f**king board of Walmart,” one user observed.
— Ali Van Zee (@alikat747) May 4, 2020
Almost got excited, but after some quick internet research, have found Cesar Conde is just another right wing, corporate schill. This is a PR stunt. Nothing will change.
— margaret smith (@magsnpugs) May 4, 2020
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!