Fierce

NBC Says It Will Release The NDAs That Sexual Harassment Survivors Were Forced To Sign

Rachel Maddow announced NBCUniversal will release former employees who experienced sexual harassment and misconduct from non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements. The decision marks a huge victory for survivors. Ronan Farrow revealed in his book, Catch and Kill, that NBC went through great lengths to suppress and cover up sexual harassment allegations against Matt Lauer and other executives. 

“There was a pattern at [NBC] in terms of women making allegations against Matt Lauer and of being paid off and signing away their rights to speak about it all before he was fired,” Maddow said on her show.

While the network vehemently denies the claims in Farrow’s book, Maddow, whose show airs on MSNBC, dedicated an entire episode to interviewing Farrow and even independently corroborated some of his reporting. 

NBCUniversal announces it will release some former employees from NDAs.

“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,” a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said in a statement

In Farrow’s book, the journalist revealed that NBC had made at least seven women sign non-disclosure agreements, some of who filed sexual misconduct complaints about the Today Show host Matt Lauer. 

“Several of the women who signed the nondisclosure agreements had complaints that were unrelated to Lauer, about other men in leadership positions within NBC News,” Farrow wrote, while some of the other agreements “called into question the network’s claim that it had known nothing about women’s allegations against Lauer.”

The revelation contradicted the network, who claimed in 2017, that their internal investigation found that there were no other claims or settlements regarding allegations against Lauer.  

Maddow calls out her NBC employers on her show. 

“I have been through a lot of ups and downs in this company since I’ve been here. It would be impossible to overstate the amount of consternation around this issue,” Maddow said. “But accusations that people in positions of authority in this building may have been complicit in some way of shielding those guys from accountability, those accusations are very, very hard to stomach.”

Maddow was able to confirm Farrow’s reporting that NBC tried to obstruct his article on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations. 

“We have independently confirmed that NBC News did that,” Maddow told viewers. “That did happen. He was told to pause his reporting.”

The day before Farrow’s book was published NBC News’ president Noah Oppenheim published a letter pre-emptively denying the allegations. 

“Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior to November of 2017 and were paid settlements to silence them,” said Noah Oppenheim, NBC News’ president, in a memo to staff. “Not only is this false, the so-called evidence Farrow uses in his book to support the charge collapses under the slightest scrutiny.”

Farrow praises NBC’s decision to release former employees from their NDAs.

“I think this will go a long way towards making them feel that they can discuss this openly,” Farrow told Maddow on her show.

Non-disclosure agreements are typically used to protect proprietary business information but can be weaponized against sexual misconduct victims by forcing them into silence with the threat of legal action. 

Farrow has maintained for years that NBC executives ordered him to shut down his groundbreaking reporting about the misconduct allegations against Weinstein because Weinstein threatened to publicly expose the allegations against Lauer. 

“This is a documented pattern of secret settlements in this company,” he told Maddow.

Lauer was fired in 2017 by MSNBC when a colleague filed a complaint accusing him of sexual harassment during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Two additional women filed reports following his dismissal. Lauer still denies any allegations. 

Farrow alleges NBC had at least seven women sign NDAs.

In one case, Farrow wrote that one unnamed on-air personality signed an NDA in 2012, alleging that, “NBC sought the deal after she showed colleagues messages she took to be propositions, from both Lauer and one of the senior executives who later departed the company.” 

Farrow says the woman didn’t file a formal complaint in fear of retaliation that would harm her career. In another incident, Farrow spoke to a former producer who alleges Lauer exposed his erect penis to her at the office in 2010. Catch and Kill claims that the woman told Ann Curry, Lauer’s co-host, who alerted senior executives that Lauer had a “problem with women,” and they should “keep an eye on him.” 

“Ronan Farrow continues his attempt to monetize the MeToo movement, using salacious allegations as promotional trinkets to sell his book. Matt never exposed himself to anyone,” Lauer’s attorney Libby Locke told NBC News. 

Lauer denies all allegations, while NBCUniversal maintains there were no other claims or settlements regarding Lauer. 

Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

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Uber Says There Were More Than 3,000 Sexual Assaults Reported In Its App Last Year And Here’s What They Plan To Do

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Uber has been grappling sexism and sexual assault controversies for years now. After revealing its first safety report, the car service disclosed that users reported 3,045 sexual assaults, of those 235 were rapes, during rides last year. There were also nine murders and 58 people were killed in car accidents. 

The number of outright tragedies reported is less than one percent of total Uber rides, which reached 1.3 billion rides in the United States in 2018, according to the company. Nevertheless, officials at Uber were unsettled by the number of crimes and tragedies. 

Uber relies on the fact that it is accessible and ubiquitous to drivers and riders.

Like other ride-hailing apps, including Lyft and Via, the lynchpin of Uber’s business model is an egalitarian approach to who can use it. This means regulations are often ditched in favor of allowing any driver with a car to work for the company. It means these drivers aren’t screened, and in New York City they don’t require a Taxi medallion like traditional yellow cab drivers. 

When employees (and customers for that matter) aren’t properly audited, sexual assaults, attacks, and murders can become all too common. Uber maintains that the crimes and tragedies aren’t a reflection of Uber’s policies but of society’s. 

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer told the New York Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

When the New York Times checked Uber’s safety record against the New York Police Department’s registery of sex crimes and rapes on the city’s transit systems, 553 assaults were reported in 2018. 

There were trends among which crimes drivers committed and which were committed against them. 

While 92 percent of rape victims were riders, murder victims tended to be drivers, riders and other parties. However, both drivers and riders reported other forms of sexual assault at about the same rate, according to Uber’s report. The report categorizes sexual assault into 21 categories that range from unwanted touching to attempted rape to rape. 

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” the company’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said in the executive summary of the report. “The moment is now for companies to confront it, count it, and work together to end it.”

In April a woman filed a $10 million lawsuit against Uber claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver and as a result is suing the company for negligence and consumer protection violations, according to The Verge. At least 31 drivers have been convicted of various related offenses like assault, rape, false imprisonment and other crimes, according to CNN. Last year, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a self-driving Uber car. In 2017, an engineer at the company exposed Uber’s corporate culture as sexist leading to an investigation where dozens of employees were fired. 

Uber has begun implementing more steps to protect passengers and drivers.

Uber’s reputation has been overshadowed by seemingly countless incidences of sexual assaults and the report has not pacified all of their critics. Nevertheless, many are praising the company for disclosing such information warts and all. 

“The more that the public is aware, the more the company and everyone else has to respond,” Jeanne Christensen, whose law firm represented rape victims in cases against Uber, told the New York Times. “It’s such a part of daily life that everyone is going to take it. We’re already at that point. So now they just have to make it as safe as possible.”

Uber has been taking steps over the past 21 months to document and prevent more safety violations. In the app, they added a panic button so that passengers can directly call 911 and provide them with their location. Riders can also use check-ins if their driver appears to be taking a suspicious route. 

“All of those steps are starters because these ride-hailing companies have been abjectly failing in their duty to protect against predators or criminals,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the New York Times

The company has partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to determine its best course of action. Since 2017, the company has tripled the staff of its safety team with continued expansion expected. In 2020, it will roll out a hotline with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. 

“The numbers in the report are not surprising because sexual violence permeates all aspects of our society, whether that’s ride-share or Metro or taxi or a workplace,” Allison Randall of the National Network to End Domestic Violence told Washington Post. “This is definitely the start of a conversation.”

We Know It’s Hard To Keep Up, So We Rounded Up The Best Celebrity Beef Of The Year For You

Entertainment

We Know It’s Hard To Keep Up, So We Rounded Up The Best Celebrity Beef Of The Year For You

@billboard / Twitter

If there is something we can always count on from show biz, it’s stars fighting other stars. As 2019 comes to an end, we’re looking back at the year in celebrity beef. It can be hard to keep track of celebrities who hate each other and why, but this list of 2019 celeb feuds will keep you informed on the latest celebrity rivalries and disputes.

Kevin Fret’s Mom vs. Ozuna

Instagram @ozuna

After the Puerto Rican Trap artist Kevin Fret died, his mom accused Ozuna of being involved in the artist’s homicide. Ozuna filed a complaint with the FBI alleging that late queer trapero Kevin Fret was blackmailing the Aura singer over the video. Ozuna confirmed his appearance in the video through a statement released by his manager Vincente Saavedra, and said that he was underage in the video and that it was “an error from the past.”Ozuna was interrogated by the authorities, but according to the police, he was not implicated in any criminal activities. 

Maluma vs. J Balvin

@maluma

The two reggaeton giants have been surrounded by rivalry rumours for years, and they had further enforced them by never working or appearing together. This year, they fired shots at each other in their joint music video for the collab track ‘Qué pena’. In the slick new music video, Maluma and Balvin take turns imitating each others’ Instagram personas: Maluma shouts into his phone, “This is for the culture man! Para la cultura!” Meanwhile, Balvin smooches himself in the mirror and purrs, “Maluma, baby. Mamacita.” So I guess, the air is clear now. There’s no conflict between them anymore, all is good in the universe.

Anuel AA & Bad Bunny Vs. Maluma

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Anuel AA teased at a new song on his Instagram. He talked about the ice on his neck, his enemies and his squad, and went on to rap “Nunca flow Maluma, siempre real G.” Bad Bunny, on his part, is a fan of the line, and he took to twitter to share it.

Bryant Myers vs. Anuel AA

In an Insta Live in April, Bryant Myers challenged Anuel to a fight after the Real Hasta La Muerte brand porter insulted him in his single “Fulete.” “Pero, papi, tu no respetas a nadie, cabrón,” Myers responded.

Reggaetoneros vs. Grammy Latino

@nickyjam

Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, and a number of other famous Latin music artists announced their boycott of the 2019 Latin Grammy Awards due to whitewashing.The boycott was a response to the absence of Reggaeton musicians from the list of nominees for the show’s 10 primary award categories, despite the genre’s monumental rise to global popularity over the decade. 

Don Omar vs. Ozuna

instagram @donomar

Earlier this year, Don Omar took advantage of rumors that were swirling about a sex tape featuring Ozuna by launching some indirect homophobic slurs towards the Aura singer, who is a longtime rival. Don Omar’s initial comments on Tuesday inspired a backlash that even included Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, as well as Bad Bunny. Yesterday, the rey de reggaeton posted a message on both Instagram and Twitter. “Lunch break? Any of you eat ?? Not me,” a reference to the anti-gay slur “pato.” Don Omar also shared a video of a duck humping a teddy bear in his Instagram stories; fans immediately identified both comments as homophobic references to Ozuna, since the Aura singer’s logo is also a teddy bear.

Hailey Bieber vs. Selena Gomez

instagram @selenagomez

Soon after Gomez’s song “Lose You To Love Me” first dropped, Baldwin posted the song “I’ll Kill You” by Summer Walker to her Instagram Story. Fans speculated that Hailey was throwing shade at Selena, but Baldwin quickly shot down the speculation and called it “BS.” 

Nicki Minaj Vs. Cardi B 

instagram @nickiminaj

While Cardi has been trying her best to move past her ongoing beef with Nicki Minaj, the “MEGATRON” rapper didn’t have a problem adding more fuel to the fire. After sharing went down between herself, Cardi, and the Migos back in 2017, Minaj went on to open up about her “authentic come-up,” saying she relied solely on her talent in order to make it in the industry.

“I still had to go through these things because of people like you who made a sport out of tearing down a young, black woman who’s done nothing but come in this game with an authentic come-up, writing raps, and doing what the f**kin’ was really necessary,” she said. “No Instagram, no reality shows, no sucking DJs’ d*cks.”

Bella Thorne vs. Whoopie Goldberg

instagram @bellathorne

After a hacker threatened to release her nude photos, Bella Thorne took matters into her own hands and released them herself. However, when The View spoke about the situation a few days later, Whoopi Goldberg didn’t seem to think the 21-year-old’s actions were quite as brave and strong as the others, who lauded her and shamed the hacker for trying to extort Bella Thorne.

“Listen, if you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are, you don’t take nude pictures of yourself.” Whoopi Goldberg said, seemingly blaming the actress for getting hacked.

But Bella Thorne was not about to take that sitting down. She took to her Instagram stories and first wrote a long note about how “displeased and saddened” she was by Whoopi Goldberg’s stance, before announcing she would be canceling her scheduled appearance on The View, because she didn’t feel like “being beaten down by a bunch of older women.”

Demi Lovato vs. Taylor Swift

instagram @demilovato

If there is one person who is tired of all the non-drama drama, it’s Demi herself, who took to Instagram on Monday morning to set the record straight once and for all. “Life’s too short for women not to support other women,” she wrote. “Especially when women release great music. Great job Taylor Swift.” She accompanied that peace treaty with a screenshot of her phone, showing her playing Taylor’s song “Cruel Summer” from her new album, “Lover,” calling it “a jam.” Swift later took to Instagram herself re-sharing Lovato’s message to her Instagram story and saying, “This is so awesome & put the biggest smile on my face.”

“Thank you Demi Lovato,” she added.

Khloe Kardashian vs. Jordyn Woods

Perhaps the biggest feud of the year kicked off back in February! That’s when it was revealed that Khloe Kardashian‘s boyfriend, NBA star Tristan Thompson, cheated on her (again), this time with someone very close to the family — sister Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods. The affair ended not only Khloe’s romantic relationship with the father of her child , but effectively finished off Jordyn’s previously tight-knit relationship with the whole Kardashian-Jenner clan.

Princess Nokia vs. Kali Uchis

instagram @kaliuchis

The internet dug up the receipts pertaining to Nokia’s “Orange Blossom” song, a 2015 track that bears more than a passing resemblance to Kali Uchis’ 2013 “Honey Baby.” Nokia had previously deleted the “Orange Blossom” video entirely, but someone re-uploaded it with an alternative title if you want to catch the clip.