Did NBC Threaten Ronan Farrow Over His Harvey Weinstein Story?
Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein, alongside Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times, helped to shatter a decades long tale of systemic abuse in Hollywood by exposing the many ills of Harvey Weinstein. It’s been almost a year since their respective stories broke, and each of them walked away with a Pulitzer Prize for their troubles. Farrow, a trained lawyer and journalist who’s also the offspring of Hollywood royalty, was in a very unique position to report on this story, and as a former MSNBC host who was still on the books at NBC-Universal, any story he brought to the network would have been headline news around the world. Yet his Weinstein story didn’t break at NBC. It was a New Yorker exclusive. When asked about this, Farrow graciously avoided making the story about himself but was also clear in noting how NBC didn’t want the story. The network then tried to claim that the story wasn’t ready for prime-time, so to speak. That claim felt very awkward only a few weeks later when the #MeToo movement became a major force and the abuses of a certain Mr. Matt Lauer came to light.
Now, The Daily Beast are reporting that sources claim the network tried to threaten Farrow over his reporting. The producer who worked alongside Farrow at NBC News on his story, Rich McHugh, quit earlier this month, allegedly in protest over Farrow’s treatment.
According to the Beast, many sources claim that NBC News general counsel Susan Weiner made a series of phone calls to Farrow, threatening to smear him if he continued to report on Weinstein. Farrow had noted in interviews how Weinstein’s team had made similar threats but he has never personally accused NBC of doing the same. NBC News deny the claim.
The story goes into detail regarding Farrow’s investigation, paying particular attention to the now infamous audio recording of Weinstein confessing to groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez in 2015. Gutierrez had gone to the police with her accusation and acquired the recording during a sting operation with NYPD, yet prosecutors did not go forward with the case and Gutierrez was smeared in the press by Weinstein powers:
NBC’s reluctance stoked Farrow and McHugh’s concerns about NBC’s commitment to the story, the sources said. Farrow did not respond to a request for comment. Ari Wilkenfeld, McHugh’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that his client “has no comment.”
In spring 2017, according to the sources, Farrow played [NBC News President Noah] Oppenheim the audio of Weinstein with Battilana admitting that he was “used to” groping women’s breasts. At one point during their meeting, according two sources, Oppenheim had asked if people still cared about Weinstein.
Farrow had begun to suspect that Oppenheim—who moonlighted as a Hollywood screenwriter—was potentially communicating with Weinstein directly about the story, according to the sources.
During a meeting in summer 2017, Oppenheim mentioned to Farrow that Weinstein had raised objections to Farrow’s reporting—even though Farrow had not yet asked Weinstein to comment on the allegations, according to individuals briefed on the meeting.
The Huffington Post reported a similar story last year, claiming Oppenheim had relayed concerns from Weinstein’s lawyers, claiming that Farrow could not be an unbiased reporter on this story given the situation with his sister, Dylan Farrow. NBC’s spokesperson also denied that claim.
These are some major accusations to level at a news organization and its team. Farrow, for his part, has not said anything, but he does have a book coming out soon where he’s expected to talk about his reporting of the story and what truly went down. Everyone involved should probably be glad it’s now Farrow himself doing the investigation into NBC News.
James Poniewozik may have said it best.
Live your life like Ronan Farrow's gonna find out what you did eventually.— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) August 27, 2018
Header Image Source: Getty Images.
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