2020 Democrats seek investigation into 'toxic culture' at NBC ahead of debate

Four Democratic presidential candidates wrote a letter calling on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ensure that NBC and its parent company Comcast conduct an independent investigation into the network's "toxic culture" after it was roiled by allegations of sexual assault.

The letter signed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) comes ahead of the Democratic primary debate on Wednesday to be broadcast by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

The Democrats, in a letter directed to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, also demanded NBC investigate accusations of "a cover-up" by the network's management and "a work environment reluctant to hold management accountable."

"We, the undersigned candidates, are very concerned about the message it would send to sexual assault survivors if our next debate is sponsored by MSNBC without clear commitments from Comcast, the parent company of NBC and MSNBC, to conduct an independent investigation into the toxic culture that enabled abusers and silenced survivors," they wrote. 

"It is critical that the Democratic National Committee make clear that they support survivors of sexual harassment and abuse by ensuring that Comcast and NBC News take steps to clean up the toxic culture that exists across their networks," they added. 

The four candidates are among 10 who are set to appear in Wednesday's debate in Atlanta. 

The senators' joint letter follows women's advocacy group UltraViolet's push last month for the DNC to cancel the upcoming primary debate at MSNBC and the Post. 

The letter signed by the 2020 candidates does not ask the DNC to cancel the debate. 

An official for the DNC said the committee had not received the letter as of Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. The person declined to comment further.

An official for NBC was not immediately available for comment.  

The letter comes following the release of a book by journalist Ronan Farrow, which details allegations of sexual harassment and assault within the network, including an allegation that former anchor Matt Lauer raped an NBC employee. 

NBC has strongly defended the actions it has taken after the accusations were brought to its attention, including over Lauer, though it has not launched an outside investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.  

Lauer denies the rape allegation saying the sexual relations with the employee had been consensual.