Comcast, the Philly cable/phone/internet company, took over NBCUniversal in 2011 and it’s been a bumpy ride since for NBC–especially the news division. NBC is a respected and long-running news institution, with well-known anchors Ann Curry, Brian Williams and Lester Holt as some of the company’s shining stars. It’s not only the news division in NBC that has tongue wagging; the company has weathered its share of hits in past and current scandals involving anchors, stars, and businessmen. This is especially a larger image problem for the news organization that needs to be trusted and respected to retain viewership. How they can turn it around remains to be seen.
Ann Curry Kicked Off of the Today Show
Ann Curry was thrilled to be named co-host of NBC’s Today Show, one of the largest shows on the network. Less than a year later, she was out.
US Magazine quoted a prominent NBC staffer, “Everybody at NBC, everybody at The Today show, everybody understood that Ann was kicked out of her position because Matt didn’t want her there. That’s why it was so personal between Ann and Matt.” Ann Curry’s last filmed show was tearful, and she infamously avoided a cheek-kiss from Matt Lauer, who she was furious with, as she felt he was singularly responsible for her firing.
Leslie Jones Tells Slave Jokes on SNL
Leslie Jones is a black stand-up comedienne and actress, hilarious and frequently inappropriate. She took it too far for many when she made jokes about slaves.
In an SNL segment called “Weekly Update,” Jones joked that if she were a slave, she’d be a hot commodity, being tall and strong. She said, “I would be the number one slave draft pick. All of the plantations would want me.” She also joked, “I do not want to be a slave. I don’t like working for all you white people now and you pay me. But back in the slave days, my love life would have been better. Master would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation and every nine months I’d be in the corner popping out super babies.” The jokes brought immediate public outcry.
Chris Farley and Adam Sandler Fired
Adam Sandler and Chris Farley came up on Saturday Night Live in the 90s as two of the show’s biggest stars, bringing in huge laughs.
Both Farley and Sandler were let go suddenly from Saturday Night Live, at the same time, with no real reason given. Both comedians were starring in movies by then, Sandler with Billy Madison, and Farley in the hilarious Tommy Boy came out. Neither ever went on record as to why they were let go, and Farley died of a heart attack in the years after. Adam Sandler still claims he has no idea why they were fired, but after the firing, Sandler went on to star in a series of hit comedic movies, making him a wealthy man.
NBC Executives Cover up Knowledge in the Richard Engel Kidnapping
In 2012 five journalists working for NBC News, including star international reporter Richard Engel, were kidnapped inside Syria, held for five days, threatened with death, treated inhumanely, and forced to in video to call for an end to U.S. involvement in Syria.
Egnel and the other captives were eventually rescued by anti-Assad (the President of Syria) forces, after being held by Assad supporters. Or so it was said. It was eventually revealed that this was entirely wrong, and not only had Sunni (not Assad associated) kidnapped and held them, but that NBC knew from the beginning that there was clear reason to doubt the identity of the kidnappers, but kept quiet about the information and allowed the story to be propagated.
David Gregory Fired From ‘Meet The Press’
David Gregory was the host of Meet the Press for six years, considered the most coveted position in political journalism–until he was fired, in 2014.
Gregory was hired to fill the shoes of the beloved previous anchor of Meet the Press (Tim Russert), who had died suddenly of a heart attack. After Gregory took over, problems began mounting; the ratings for the show were in decline, and someone was planting negative stories about Gregory in the press, weakening the brand and power of the show. Gregory was fired, and Chuck Todd was put into his place. Ratings never went back up.
NBC Cut Ties With Trump
NBC announced they were ending “their business relationship” with Donald Trump after horrid remarks on immigrants.
Donald Trump defiled Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug pushers, so NBC took the step of ending its run of the Miss USA Pageant and Miss Universe. Donald Trump called NBC’s actions “weak” and “politically correct.” NBC stated that “respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.” NBC also stated that Trump had already offered that he would not be participating in Celebrity Apprentice due to his run for president.
Coming up: has Megyn Kelly already gotten on the bad side of her new NBC coworkers?
Billy Bush Leaves, Entangled in Trumpian Scandal
Billy Bush, first cousin to the former President George W Bush, was a part of NBC’s Today team. In 2016, a tape of Bush and Trump speaking was released that proved deadly to Bush’s career.
In the video, Mr. Trump says in a braggish voice, “you can do anything” to women “when you’re a star” as well as using lewd, aggressive language about grabbing women. Bush’s remarks included, “the Donald has scored” and also comments about a woman’s “good legs.” After the video was made public, Bush said he felt “embarrassed and ashamed” over his words, and he was suspended, after which he left The Today Show for a private settlement agreement.
Andrew Dice Clay Causes Boycott
Andrew Dice Clay was one of the most controversial comedians of our time: sexist, crude, aggressive and purposefully dumbed down, he could be hilarious and had enough fans to win a spot guest-starring on SNL.
Cast member Nora Dunn would not work with Clay on the show, as well as the night’s musical guest, Sinhead O’Connor.
Even some fans in attendance were very unhappy with Clay’s presence. When Clay took his place on stage, several chants from the audience were heard, calling for Clay to “go away”. Other civil rights and activist groups also protested Andrew Dice Clay everywhere he went, picketing his shows and speaking out against his material. After this SNL performance, Clay never was invited back to the show.
Megyn Kelly Leaves Fox For NBC
Megyn Kelly has risen through her field to become a star as a broadcast journalist for Fox, which she is now leaving for NBC…to some dismay.
The word is that Kelly will host her own daytime talk show as well as anchor a Sunday-night news show on NBC. The main concern is over comments Kelly has made that are perceived as racist. In 2015 Kelly said that the Obama administration would force “too white [and] too privileged” communities to embrace diversity “whether the communities want it or not.” In 2010 while covering the New Black Panther Party, she greatly exaggerated the threat of the party to white people and played into stereotypes of black men. She once described a young, female, black victim of police crime as “no saint.”
Conan and Leno at it Again
Late night NBC drama to the hilt: Conan and Leno both had NBC shows, but only one would be left standing.
NBC announced it was returning Leno to 11:30 pm for a half-hour show following the evening news. O’Brien was offered an hour-long show at 12:05, which he declined. Social media exploded with opinions, including Facebook groups and Twitter’s hashtag #teamconan in support of Conan O’Brian, asking NBC to keep his show alive. NBC did not, and O’Brien left, with Leno taking his place and time slot. Many celebrity comedians weighed in on the controversial opinion, including Jimmy Fallon and Patton Oswald.
Jamie Horowitz Fired
Jamie Horowitz was hired by NBC to oversee the entire production of the floundering Today show.
Only ten weeks later, he was fired. Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, said that she and Mr. Horowitz both had “come to the conclusion that this is not the right fit.” Although she did not use the word ‘fired’, other sources stated that it was a firing. It was later said that his dismissal came after he reviewed an elaborate, five-hour plan proposed to Turness which included either letting him go or making dramatic scheduling changes for most of the Today cast. Matt Lauer was said to also disagree with Horowitz’s vision. Horowitz went on to work at ESPN.
Chris Matthews Favors His Wife
Chris Matthew’s wife Kathleen ran for Congress, and he vowed to help “However I can,” but that may have included shady ethical practices.
The Intercept reported that Hardball guests made donations to Kathleen’s campaign, some long after they were on the show, and some immediately after her candidacy was announced. The donations were not disclosed. The Federal Communications Commission prohibits hosts from receiving payments in exchange for guesting on the show, but Matthews’ didn’t receive the donations, his wife did. Technically, it was not illegal. Kathleen Matthews lost the race.
Wayans Fired For Breaking Orders
Damon Wayans was a rising comedian in the 90s and hired to work on Saturday Night Life after the departure of Eddie Murphy.
Lorne Michaels had specific instructions for Wayans on the show–namely, that he not act in any way like his predecessor, Murphy. Wayans felt suffocated by this, so in a sketch where he was supposed to play a straight cop, he played the policeman as outrageously flamboyant. This was on live television. After the sketch was over, Wayans was promptly fired. Damon Wayans went on to star in numerous movies and television shows, recently as Coach in New Girl.
Brian Williams Lies About Experience As War Journalist
Brian Williams is the face of NBC news, so it was a crushing blow to the organization when the humiliating truth came out: he had been exaggerating his 2003 experience coming under fire in a U.S. Army helicopter.
Williams had gone on the record and admitted he hadn’t been telling the truth, not only on a Nightly News broadcast the previous week but also over the years at public appearances and on talk shows. Williams on-air apology did not help: his language was vague, he didn’t admit to lying, and simply said “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago.” Williams was suspended for six months, and took an enormous blow to his professional reputation. He now serves as a breaking news anchor on MSNBC.
Dateline Fabricates Exploding Cars
In 1992, NBC’s show Dateline was running strong, and did a segment on certain types of General Motor pickup trucks, showing that they were inclined to explode in crashes.
G.M. then did their own investigation showing that Dateline had purposefully set up the exploding trucks in the program’s climax by attaching model-rocket engines to a truck’s underbody. As the scandal unraveled, three Dateline producers were fired and the president of NBC News, Michael Gartner, resigned. NBC’s reputation took an enormous blow and their news department was in shambles for long afterward.
The Biggest Loser Loses Public Support
The Biggest Loser winner of Season 15 was Rachel Frederickson, who lost a whopping 60 percent of her body weight over six months.
Fans and critics were vocal about their concern that the weight loss was much too much, too fast. The loss had brought her down to 5’4” and 105 pounds, with a BMI of 18. Her training consisted of a mind-blowing six hours of exercise a day, with only 1600 calories of food. “Too enthusiastic,” Frederickson described her training. In response to the public outcry, she asserted that she does not have an eating disorder, and will be training and eating like a normal girl in the world after the show.
Ashlee Simpson Fakes it
Ashley Simpson, little sister of then popular singer Jessica Simpson, was a musical guest star on Saturday Night Live when she had the embarrassment of a lifetime.
Other than the SNL disaster you’re about to read about, Ashlee Simpson is best known as Jessica Simpson’s little sister. The younger Simpson nabbed a spot as the musical guest on SNL which could have given her career a jolt. Ashlee Simpson was a rising pop star, yet clearly unsure of herself, when she starred on SNL as the musical guest. She performed her hit single, “Pieces of Me” well, but as she was about to perform her second song, “Pieces of Me” again played. It turned out, the performance had been recorded, and Ashlee was lip syncing. Ashlee made an awkward dancing motion and left the stage–the only time in SNL history this has happened. For reasons known only to our national psyche, this became headline news, with the whole country weighing in on everything from SNL‘s complicity in the event to the state of modern music. Her music career never recovered, but Ashlee seems very happy now, married with kids.
The Twenty-One Scandal
Charles Van Doren was a star on the popular NBC game show in the 50’s, Twenty-One. He was also the poster-boy for the show’s national deception.
Van Doren had a winning streak of 14 weeks on the show, which landed him on the cover of Time magazine. He won $129,000 and was hired afterward to be a co-anchor on The Today Show. After other contestants had come forward, Van Buren was brought before the Grand Jury and testified that he had cheated on the show. He admitted he was “deeply involved in a deception.” Van Buren lost his job and eventually worked as an editor. Robert Redford made a movie called Quiz Show based on the NBC scandal.
NBC was set and ready to showcase Bill Cosby’s new comeback show, long after the success of the famous NBC hit The Cosby Show.
And then the scandal broke: Bill Cosby was being accused by tens of women of drugging and then raping them over a period of decades. The Chronicle Herald asked if NBC would never work with Cosby again, and “That’s safe to say,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt replied. Cosby now faces numerous lawsuits against him for drugging and sexually assaulting women. He also lost a planned Netflix special.
Offending the Pope
Sinhead O’Connor was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Her powerhouse, beautiful voice was at the height of its popularity, and she was becoming famous.
On SNL, O’Connor sang the Bob Marley song, “War.” During the song, she pulled out a photo of the Pope, Pope John Paul ll, and ripped it up as the word “evil” comes up repeatedly in the song. O’Connor wanted to make a statement against child abuse.
Thousands of complaints flooded NBC. SNL brought up the incident the next week on the show in order to address the furor. Guest host Joe Pesci was so rattled by the event that he had taped the pieces of the photo back together.
Tamron Hall Ousted From Today By Megyn Kelly’s Arrival
Ever since word got out that Megyn Kelly was leaving Fox News for NBC, rumors began swirling that certain personalities at her new network were not happy to have Ms. Kelly joining them. Those rumors quickly came to a head on February 1, 2017 when NBC announced that they had axed Today favorite Tamron Hall’s morning segment, Today’s Take, in order to make room for a new segment starring Kelly.
Hall, who had co-hosted with Al Roker, quit the network immediately despite “multiple millions” in offers from NBC. At this moment, plans are for Roker to stay on Today as a weatherman, but he is said to be disappointed. And many fans are confused by the network’s decision to replace their first black female anchor with a white woman who has expressed racist opinions in the past. One source told Page Six that “[p]eople are pissed.”
Under Fire For Spiking Weinstein Expose
In September 2017, Harvey Weinstein’s career when up in flames after numerous sexual assault allegations were made against him. Not long after, NBC’s ethics came into question after word got out that they had the story on Weinstein (left) months ago, but didn’t follow up on it. Although NBC News boss Noah Oppenheim (right) told staffers, “the notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive for us all,” this wasn’t enough for people to let the matter go. Many speculate that Oppenheim had any ties to Weinstein resulting in biased stories about the film executive.