Katie Couric has spent a good deal of her career getting to know those who walk the power corridors of the media business.
On Wednesday, she put that knowledge to use, sharing her views on the actions of former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, who left that company in April after acknowledging his role in a sexual misconduct complaint.
“Clearly someone in a position of power cannot be involved in a sexual relationship with someone whose fate depends on said person,” Couric said, speaking on Kelly Ripa’s podcast with SiriusXM, “Let’s Talk Off Camera.” “And so that’s why I was just so shocked that Jeff Shell would do this. And what is it? Is it kind of the power dynamic? Are they so surrounded with ‘Yes’ people they think the rules don’t apply to them?”
She added, “It just amazes me that a powerful executive like that would be so dumb, just be so stupid and reckless. I think reckless is the word. You can see how it happens. But I think you have to be smart and disciplined and know that unless you tell your supervisor, and unless you’re not a direct report, that having a relationship with a colleague isn’t cool.”
Couric allowed that the power of being a C-level executive can sometimes could judgment.
“It is hard. It’s very heady being in an industry and being a quote-unquote ‘celebrity,’ whatever that means,” she said. “It does do weird things to your head and you have got to kind of remind yourself that, you know, you put your pants on the same way as everyone else.”
Shell was investigated by an outside firm over a sexual misconduct complaint in the workplace. He was fired for an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee, according to a statement from parent company Comcast.
Shell himself acknowledged his situation in a farewell note.
“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, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”