NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell had to resign following an investigation after CNBC anchor Hadley Gamble accused him of "sexual harassment and sex discrimination," her lawyer said on Monday. It was reported on Sunday that Shell left his role in the company after an investigation into his behavior began about a month ago.
Although NBCUniversal declined to identify the complainant, media reports claimed Gamble had done so after an on-and-off relationship between the two ended a few years ago. Comcast said on Sunday that it decided to fire Shell, who was paid $21.6 million a year, following an investigation by an outside counsel.
Gamble was behind Shell's ouster, both for having an affair with him and then accusing him of sexual harassment. Gamble's lawyers subsequently confirmed this in a statement.
"The investigation into Mr Shell arose from a complaint by my client of sexual harassment and sex discrimination," said Suzanne McKie, a managing partner of Farore Law, a UK-based firm.
"Given these circumstances it is very disappointing that my client's name has been released and her privacy violated."
However, McKie did not say when the complaint the filed.
Shell, who is married to Laura Fay Shell, admitted having an "inappropriate relationship with a member of the staff," which he claimed he "truly regret[s]".
"Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal," Shell said in a statement Sunday. "I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret.
"I'm truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down," the statement said. "They are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 10 years has been a privilege."
The tryst between Gamble and Shell apparently started "11 years ago and [it] continued sporadically up until a couple of years ago when it ended," according to Deadline. Gamble has been with CNBC since 2010.
The outlet's report late Sunday prompted McKie's to respond.
Sexual Harassment at Workplace
A source told Deadline.com that the affair between Shell and Gamble began 11 years ago and had continued sporadically for years. Shell is married to Laura Fay Shell, a former employee of Zev Yaroslavsky, the Los Angeles County Supervisor. Shell has been with the company for more than two decades.
The source also said that the affair continued for years but the two broke up two years back.
Gamble had earlier gained attention when Russian state media said she was acting like a "sexual object" to distract Russian President Vladimir Putin, with some state media even speculating that she was part of a US "special operation."
The accusations surfaced when she interviewed Putin at a Moscow panel discussion during Russian Energy Week in October 2021.
It was earlier reported that propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov accused the seasoned journalist of acting " behaved boldly, openly positioning herself as a sexual object" while Vladimir Soloviev said on his official radio program at the time that Gamble distracted Putin with her "sex appeal."
Olga Skabeeva reportedly maintained that Gamble must be a member of a US "special operation" to target Putin.
Gamble was even compared to "Basic Instinct" actress Sharon Stone for her body language approaching Putin, which included "casting wistful glances" and acting "shamelessly" by licking her lips and sticking out her tongue.
"Hadley squeezed into a tight black dress, fluffed up her flowing hair, and put on a pair of nude leg-lengthening Louboutin high-heel pumps," a Russian state media commentator said.
"I had just turned 40 and this man was telling me I looked beautiful, instead of answering the question, it made me laugh," Gamble told Harper's Bazaar Arabia when asked about her Putin interview.
She has also hosted the CNBC documentary series Access: Middle East, where she interviews global CEOs, philanthropists, and world leaders. The show's past guests have included Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state of the United States.
Gamble was the last journalist from a Western country to speak with Vladimir Putin in October 2021 prior to the conflict in Ukraine.
"Hadley is a passionate advocate for women in the workplace and their advancement around the world. She moderated the first ever women's business forum in Saudi Arabia and provided exclusive content to CNBC as the Kingdom lifted its decades-old driving ban," her bio on CNBC's website reads.
Gamble recently said that she was searching for "trust, transparency, kindness, [and] the chutzpah to tell it like it is" in a partner.
"Every relationship teaches you more about yourself and the whole point of living is to grow and become a better, stronger and hopefully, more interesting person," Gamble, 41, told Harper's Bazaar Arabia last year when asked about her personal life.
A native of Tennessee, Gamble began working as a horse groomer at the age of 10 on a farm. "I think maybe shoveling manure probably gave me a very different perspective on all of the stuff that we cover," she told Harper's Bazaar Arabia.
"This was not the life prescribed to me," she said of her journalism career.
She covered Florida's gubernatorial race as a stringer for the Associated Press and Reuters after graduating from the University of Miami in 2003.
She was hired at the age of 22 to work as a production assistant for ABC's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." Gamble was next hired by CNBC in 2010 as a reporter and anchor, a position she held for five years.
She was named senior foreign correspondent from CNBC in 2018. Presently, she is the host of "Capital Connections," a business channel show that airs in the Middle East.