NBC News Chief Apologizes to Staff for 'Asleep' Slam

Image: NBC News Chief Apologizes to Staff for 'Asleep' Slam NBC News President Deborah Turness. (Rob Kim/Stringer/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 07:24 AM

By Elliot Jager

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NBC News President Deborah Turness has apologized for saying in a weekend New York Times interview that her predecessors had been "asleep" while the division lost viewers, the New York Post reported.

Turness, a former ITV executive, was imported from Britain a year ago to revamp NBC News. Since her arrival, ratings have risen by 6 percent, the best viewer totals since 2006, according to the Times. For the week ending Aug. 18, NBC News led the network pack with 8 million viewers, TVNewser reported.

"People in the organization from top to bottom recognized that NBC News hadn't kept up with the times in all sorts of ways, for maybe 15 years," she told the Times. "I think the organization had gone to sleep."

Those in charge while the division was purportedly asleep included Tom Brokaw (1982-2004) and Steve Capus (2005-2013) in the news division, and former network president Jeff Zucker.

According to the Post, they were "apoplectic" over her criticism. Her comments also created an "uproar" in the news division. "Turness is making enemies. Her 'asleep' comment is incredibly disrespectful to many of NBC's top journalists, especially Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, and her predecessors Steve Capus, Andy Lack, Neal Shapiro and Jeff Zucker," said an unnamed source quoted by the Post.

Critics complained that she "discounted" the division's successes prior to her arrival.

Colleagues are also concerned about where she is taking the division. There are fears of layoffs. "This notion [that] she is swooping in from England to save a snoozing news organization is simply wrong," an unidentified source told the Post.

Turness has dispatched "apologetic e-mails to staff addressing her comment," the Post reported.

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