The president of NBC News is facing additional backlash over a series of columns he wrote for the Harvard Crimson in the 1990s.
According to the Daily Beast, Noah Oppenheim's 20-year-old columns began circulating around the NBC office this week, amid allegations he had downplayed the sexual assault claims against Matt Lauer—the embattled former host of Today. The accusations against Oppenheim were ignited by experts from Ronan Farrow's upcoming book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, which suggests NBC executives were aware of the rape allegations against Lauer well before he was ousted.
The resurfaced columns have raised more questions about Oppenheim's moral character, as his writing included jokes about the objectification of women, mocking statements about feminists, and a defense of Marv Albert, a sportscaster who was fired from NBC over sexual assault allegations.
"The trial was a sham and that the network’s action was an injustice,” Oppenheim wrote in his October 1997 column. "... It is certainly a noble goal to protect the victims of sexual assault from mistreatment in the courtroom. But why should Marv’s past conduct have been subject to the closest scrutiny, while [her] character history have remained off-limits? ... All that we know for sure is that Marv liked his sex a little kinky."
In another piece, Oppenheim took aim at those who took issue with the opening of a Hooters near campus, as well as feminists who criticized the Harvard's male-only finals clubs.
"Many women argue that the clubs are objectionable because of their demeaning treatment of female guests—particularly the restriction of movement and the sexually aggressive atmosphere. Well, I would likely not feel comfortable in an S&M club, so I choose not to go for one," he wrote in a 1998 column. "Women who fell [sic] threatened by the clubs' environments should seek tamer pastures. However apparently women enjoy being confined, pumped full of alcohol and preyed upon. They feel desired, not demeaned."
An anonymous NBC staffer told the Daily Beast they considered quitting the network after Oppenheim's columns re-emerged.
"Our boss thinks women enjoy being ‘confined, pumped with alcohol and preyed upon’—those are his own words—and now he runs one of the largest news divisions in America," the NBC employee said. "I can’t believe I work for him. How can this person be president of a network news division?"