63% of NBC Story on Alleged Weinstein Cover-Up Focuses on Network Denials

On Friday’s Today show, NBC News acknowledged allegations from former investigative producer Rich McHugh that the network tried to kill reporting from McHugh and fellow journalist Ronan Farrow exposing the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal. However, the vast majority of the paltry one-minute-eight-second report, 43 seconds (63%), focused on NBC’s denial of the claim.

“A former NBC producer is accusing the network of trying to kill the Harvey Weinstein story before it went public....McHugh claims NBC News told him to stand down on the story just days before a scheduled interview an alleged rape victim,” fill-in co-host Craig Melvin told viewers. He then quickly turned to his employer’s dismissal of the accusation: “NBC News denies the accusations, saying Farrow’s story was not ready for air.”

 

 

Touting NBC’s excuses for failing to air the story that would spark the #MeToo movement and earn Farrow a Pulitzer Prize, Melvin continued: “The network says, at the time, Farrow did not yet have a single victim of or witness to misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified.”

The anchor concluded the brief segment by declaring: “In a statement, NBC News said, quote, ‘The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie.’”

While most of NBC’s coverage focused on attacking its former reporters, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning each devoted nearly three-minute long reports on the controversy, with only 23% of both stories mentioning NBC’s denials.

On GMA, fill-in co-host Amy Robach proclaimed: “We’re going to turn now to stunning allegations against NBC. A former producer who worked with Ronan Farrow is now accusing the network of effectively killing his story on Harvey Weinstein, which helped catapult the #MeToo movement.” Unlike NBC’s report, ABC correspondent Adrienne Bankert read numerous quotes from McHugh:

Overnight, that producer, Rich McHugh, tells ABC News, “as we were about to interview a woman with a credible allegation of rape against him, I was told not to do the interview and ordered to stand down, thus effectively killing the story. Those orders came to me from the highest levels of NBC”....McHugh, who formerly worked at ABC News, now says, “NBC owed it to those brave women who spoke to us to get their stories out”.... McHugh tells ABC exclusively this morning, “As the father of four girls, I knew that if I did not pursue this story with everything I had, how could I live with myself? And what example would I have set for my daughters? There was only one way forward. And that was to get the story out.”

“Investigative producer Rick McHugh said NBC News displayed a massive breach of journalistic integrity, telling him and Ronan Farrow to stand down on the investigation of Weinstein’s sexual conduct,” announced fill-in co-host Adriana Diaz on CBS This Morning. Moments later, correspondent Jericka Duncan detailed McHugh’s allegations:

In a New York Times article published Thursday night, Ronan Farrow’s former producer Rich McHugh said that during the final stages of their report into Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct he and Farrow felt resistance. “We were told to put the story on the back burner.” McHugh also claimed three days before they were going to interview a woman with a credible rape allegation against Weinstein, he was ordered to stand down on the story altogether from the highest levels of NBC. And that Weinstein allegedly called NBC executives directly once, he says, while he was in the room with him.

Not only has NBC been accused of trying to kill the Weinstein story, but the network was slow to report on it after Farrow wrote up his New Yorker piece.

An obvious question to be asked about all this foot dragging: What influence, if any, did fired Today show anchor Matt Lauer’s own sexual harassment behavior have over NBC’s decisions?

Here is a full transcript of NBC’s brief coverage on the August 31 Today show:

7:14 AM ET [7:14:37 - 7:15:45, 1 min 8 sec] [43 sec on NBC Denial, 63%]

CRAIG MELVIN: A former NBC producer is accusing the network of trying to kill the Harvey Weinstein story before it went public. That’s according to a report in The New York Times. Rich McHugh, who recently left the network, worked on the Weinstein story with former NBC correspondent Ronan Farrow. McHugh claims NBC News told him to stand down on the story just days before a scheduled interview an alleged rape victim.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Producer: NBC Tried to Kill Weinstein Story; Network Denies Accusation, Says Story Wasn’t Ready for Air]

NBC News denies the accusations, saying Farrow’s story was not ready for air. The network says, at the time, Farrow did not yet have a single victim of or witness to misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified. NBC News executives told the Times Farrow then asked if he could take the story to another outlet, and they agreed.

It was published in The New Yorker two months later, after the story was first reported by The New York Times. In a statement, NBC News said, quote, “The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie.”

Here is a full transcript of the August 31 report on ABC’s GMA:

7:11 AM ET [7:11:49 - 7:14:33, 2 min 44 sec] [37 sec on NBC Denial, 23%]

AMY ROBACH: We’re going to turn now to stunning allegations against NBC. A former producer who worked with Ronan Farrow is now accusing the network of effectively killing his story on Harvey Weinstein, which helped catapult the #MeToo movement. ABC’s Adrienne Bankert has the story.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Former NBC Producer Speaks Out About Harvey Weinstein Story; Network Denies Trying to Kill Investigation Into Mogul]

ADRIENNE BANKERT: Overnight, a former NBC News employee is now accusing network executives of effectively killing Ronan Farrow’s story of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, which he had been working on for eight months at the network. The sweeping report spawning the #MeToo movement.

RONAN FARROW: What the women have done coming forward in this article and now far beyond, as you say, industry after industry, is something I could have never fully anticipated. It’s incredibly moving.

BANKERT: Farrow won a Pulitzer for his coverage in The New Yorker of the disgraced movie mogul accused of sexual assault by numerous women. Originally, he worked on the story for NBC, alongside one of the network’s top investigative producers. Overnight, that producer, Rich
McHugh, tells ABC News, “as we were about to interview a woman with a credible allegation of rape against him, I was told not to do the interview and ordered to stand down, thus effectively killing the story. Those orders came to me from the highest levels of NBC.”

McHugh resigned in protest from NBC News last week, nearly a year after Farrow left. The network tells ABC News overnight, “The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie.” Adding that Farrow was allowed by NBC to take the story to The New Yorker.

McHugh, who formerly worked at ABC News, now says, “NBC owed it to those brave women who spoke to us to get their stories out.” But NBC says at that time Farrow “did not yet have a single victim of or witness to misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified.” According to an NBC official who spoke to the Times, one of those women, Rose McGowan, was willing to go on camera, but at the time, unwilling to name Weinstein. She eventually became Weinstein’s most vocal accuser.

ROSE MCGOWAN: I have a visceral need for him to have handcuffs on.

BANKERT: Farrow went on to publish his groundbreaking expose in The New Yorker with on-the-record accounts had on the report accounts from Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, and four other women. NBC says, “Not one of these seven women was included in the reporting Farrow presented while at NBC news.”

And Rich McHugh tells ABC exclusively this morning, “As the father of four girls, I knew that if I did not pursue this story with everything I had, how could I live with myself? And what example would I have set for my daughters? There was only one way forward. And that was to get the story out.” Back to you, guys.

ROBACH: Alright, Arienne, thank you so much.

Here is a full transcript of the August 31 report on CBS This Morning:

7:12 AM ET [7:12:26 - 7:15:22, 2 min 56 sec] [41 sec on NBC Denial, 23%]

ADRIANA DIAZ: NBC News said two of the former journalists outright lying that the network tried to block an explosive report about Harvey Weinstein. Investigative producer Rick McHugh said NBC News displayed a massive breach of journalistic integrity, telling him and Ronan Farrow to stand down on the investigation of Weinstein’s sexual conduct. Jericka Duncan is following the intensifying feud.

CBS GRAPHIC: Weinstein Expose Squashed?

JERICKA DUNCAN: Good morning. McHugh and Farrow spent eight months gathering information on the media mogul, but NBC News said the story wasn't ready for air because not a single witness or victim of Weinstein’s alleged crimes would go on the record. Well, the company said when it told Farrow that, he took the report elsewhere.

RONAN FARROW: I walked into the door at the New Yorker with a explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier.

DUNCAN: In a New York Times article published Thursday night, Ronan Farrow’s former producer Rich McHugh said that during the final stages of their report into Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct he and Farrow felt resistance. “We were told to put the story on the back burner.” McHugh also claimed three days before they were going to interview a woman with a credible rape allegation against Weinstein, he was ordered to stand down on the story altogether from the highest levels of NBC. And that Weinstein allegedly called NBC executives directly once, he says, while he was in the room with him.

FARROW: At a time when I spent months and months in rooms with executives saying this is not a story, you know, pack it up. Why wouldn't you just give up on this?

DUNCAN: In a statement to CBS News, an NBC spokesperson says in part, “the assertion that NBC news tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC is an outright lie.”  Two months after leaving NBC, Farrow published his piece on the new Yorker that included several alleged victims by name, including Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino Rosanna Arqueette. None of whom were included in the reporting he presented at NBC News, according to the New York Times article.

FARROW: To have fellow reporters who got close over the course of 20 years almost say, “Yeah, no. This is real, we came really close. We wanted to get this and we couldn't.”

DUNCAN: Rich McHugh will not disclose which executives had told him to stand down on his reporting. The president of NBC News said Weinstein had no influence on the network handling the Weinstein story. Weinstein denies all allegations of sexual. Norah?

NORAH O’DONNELL: Jericka, thank you.


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