April 16, 2024

Hadley Gamble — the CNBC reporter whose “inappropriate relationship” with NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell forced the media mogul to resign this week — also had a romantic relationship with California billionaire Tom Barrack that triggered an internal investigation at the network, The Post has learned.

Gamble’s romance with 76-year-old Barrack — a staunch backer of Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns — sparked a human-resources probe at CNBC after she secured a high-profile interview in August 2020 with Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to sources close to the situation.

An attorney for Gamble confirmed the investigation to The Post, saying Gamble believes an HR complaint was filed following the Kushner interview and that it alleged that Barrack — who was known for his close ties to the White House at the time — had “organized the interview between Kushner and Gamble” while the pair were dating and that it hadn’t been disclosed.

Sources said Gamble — whose sexual harassment complaint against Shell led to the NBCUniversal CEO’s ouster late Sunday — flew on Barrack’s private jet to the Kushner interview in Washington, DC. Gamble also repeatedly broadcasted her show “Capital Connection” from Barrack’s posh New York penthouse, sources said.

Gamble’s attorney, Suzanne McKie of Farore Law in London, told The Post that Barrack “did not organize an interview” between Gamble and Kushner, adding that Gamble had previously met Kushner at the Peace to Prosperity Summit in Bahrain in June 2019. McKie said the probe cleared Gamble of any wrongdoing.

“Hadley understands, although she was not party to the talks, that a Kushner representative approached the Middle East producer for CNBC to pitch a sit-down interview with Miss Gamble as the CNBC Middle East correspondent,” McKie added.

“We believe the claims to be the result of a deliberate smear campaign by bad actors,” the lawyer added. “Miss Gamble has never had inappropriate relationships with journalistic sources and has always maintained the highest ethical standards in her reporting.”

The results of the HR investigation did not satisfy angry staffers. Some noted that, in an unusual move, the probe was spearheaded in 2021 by NBCUniversal rather than CNBC itself. Sources pointed to the company’s code of conduct handbook, which warned that employees are “expected to avoid conflicts of interest.”

“While the rest of us were fighting to get any opportunity, she would fly first class and brag about it on Instagram, wearing Louboutins, staying in five-star hotels,” said a source close to the matter. “We also hated how that reflected on the [CNBC] brand and our journalistic credibility by association but our complaints fell on deaf ears.”

“Nobody could figure out why she was being protected,” the source added. “Any normal employee would be fired.”

Representatives for NBCUniversal, CNBC and Barrack declined to comment.

Sources said CNBC staffers first caught wind of the relationship after a video of the pair together inside a massive hotel suite that was leaked across the newsrooms.

The video, which was obtained by The Post, reveals Gamble prepping to host her show “Capital Connection,” where she was broadcasting remotely from Bodrum, a resort town in southwestern Turkey on the Aegean Sea.

In the nine-second clip, Gamble, wearing a hot pink dress, appears to be prepping for a CNBC broadcast while a man — barefoot and wearing shorts and a white T-shirt — is standing at what looks like the entrance to an outdoor balcony.

Gamble then begins attempting to shoo the man — who three sources identified as Barrack — out of the camera shot.

After unsuccessfully waving him away with her hand, she then scoots her seat over in an apparent attempt to block the camera’s view of him.

Finally, Gamble turns back to face Barrack, pointing for him to exit back onto the balcony, which he eventually does as she turns back to the camera flashing an amused, toothy grin.

The Bodrum video led staffers to question whether Gamble, then 39, had been dating the then-74-year-old Barrack, at the time of her interview with him in February 2020, and why it hadn’t been disclosed on air. Barrack was unmarried at the time.

Inside CNBC, word of the Bodrum video spread like wildfire, with angry staffers also pointing to a notably “softball” interview by Gamble of Barrack in February 2020 and questioning whether the pair hadn’t been in an undisclosed relationship at the time.

“Tom Barrack, it’s great to see you on CNBC. Thanks so much for joining us.” Gamble said opening the Abu Dhabi-based sitdown.

The 48-minute interview covered the 2020 presidential race, Kushner’s Middle East peace plan and the likelihood of Lebanon solving its fiscal crisis.

Everything you need to know about Jeff Shell’s departure from NBC

What happened?

Jeff Shell, NBCUniversal’s now-former CEO who is also married, left his position on Sunday after admitting he had “an inappropriate relationship” with a co-worker.

It was revealed Shell had an affair, which reportedly lasted about a decade, with CNBC International anchor Hadley Gamble.

The anchor accused Shell, who has worked at NBCUniversal’s parent company Comcast, of “sexual harassment and sex discrimination,” according to her lawyer.

Comcast said Shell left his position after a company investigation “led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct.”

As of Monday, the media titan has yet to announce who Shell’s successor will be.

NBCUniversal, however, did announce that the organization’s senior managers will directly report to Comcast President Mike Cavanagh.

Who is Gamble?

Gamble is a veteran journalist who has worked with CNBC since 2010.

She worked as a CNBC anchor in Dubai and has interviewed the likes of Pope Francis, Jordanian King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Before Shell’s bombshell departure, Gamble was best known as one of the last Western reporters to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin before the invasion of Ukraine last year.

The anchor was accused by Russian state media of acting “as a sex object” who was out to distract Putin while interviewing Putin at an energy conference in Moscow.

Gamble allegedly began a tryst with Shell “11 years ago and [it] continued sporadically up until a couple of years ago when it ended,” according to Deadline.

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Gamble’s lawyer McKie responded that Gamble met Barrack for the “first time” at the February 2020 interview for CNBC in Abu Dhabi, and that a relationship blossomed some time after.

Gamble disclosed her Barrack relationship to her manager in the summer of 2020 and was transparent about the private jet and her New York broadcasts from Barrack’s penthouse, a source close to Gamble said.

Gamble’s relationship with Barrack ended around the time the real estate tycoon was arrested by the FBI in July 2021 on foreign-agent charges.

He was acquitted of all charges in November.

As for Shell, a source close to the situation said Gamble began a consensual affair with the media mogul 11 years earlier and that it ended in a year or two later, but that the CEO had continued to contact her, sending her texts until more recently.

On Sunday, Comcast said it had terminated Shell after a company investigation “led by outside counsel into a complaint of inappropriate conduct” with the CNBC journalist.

Two years ago, Gamble grabbed international attention after she interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin while wearing a tight black dress at an economic conference in Moscow, drawing a suggestion from Putin that she was “too beautiful” to understand some of his answers.

Meanwhile, The Post revealed earlier this week that Gamble was also romantically linked to 80-year-old billionaire David Bonderman, a married Texas buyout tycoon, who is the chairman of private equity firm TPG.

“She has a thing for geriatric billionaires,” said a source with knowledge of Gamble’s dating history. “That’s her preference.”

Bonderman counted Gamble among his “female companions” and treated her to frequent trips on the firm’s private jet, according to a whistleblower complained filed by a former TPG exec in 2015.

According to a source with knowledge, Bonderman and Barrack are “close friends friends who do a lot of business together.”

In the 1980’s oil tycoon-heir Robert Bass hired the investment pros, who made a fortune for him.

While Bonderman would later form TPG, Barrack made real estate investments for Bass and then in 1991 formed real estate investment trust Colony Capital.

The source said TPG and Colony looked at some deals together, and often had senior employees moving between each other’s firms.

A rep for TPG and Bonderman did not comment.