In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published early Wednesday morning, journalist Ronan Farrow discussed revelations in his new book, Catch and Kill, that Hollywood mogul and accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein tried to blackmail NBC News into silence about his alleged crimes by threatening to go public with similar accusations against former Today show anchor Matt Lauer.
Despite Farrow being employed by NBC in the fall of 2017, when he broke the bombshell Weinstein scandal, the network mysteriously refused to air the scoop. Farrow was forced to go to The New Yorker to get his story published. According to Farrow, the reason for NBC’s inexplicable decision to pass on such important journalism may have been that news organization had skeleton’s its own closet involving Lauer – skeletons Weinstein apparently knew about.
“Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it,” Farrow writes in the book. Based on anonymous sources from NBC and National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. (AMI), Farrow describes a meeting between Weinstein and AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard in which the two men strategized about how to keep NBC from airing Farrow’s reporting. The dirt on Lauer apparently came up in that meeting and Weinstein later used it to pressure NBC.
Amid coverage of the rape allegations made against Lauer in Farrow’s book, NBC’s 3rd Hour Today show on Wednesday briefly acknowledged the claim that Weinstein tried to extort the network. Correspondent Morgan Radford emphasized denials from her employer:
And just this morning, The Hollywood Reporter came out with a new story based on Farrow’s book in which Farrow claims that Harvey Weinstein attempted to use knowledge of Matt Lauer’s alleged behavior as leverage to pressure NBC into keeping stories about his own improprieties quiet. NBC denies that claim, saying in part, “It was never made aware, in any way, of any threats.”
The network further told Hollywood Reporter: “NBC News was never contacted by AMI, or made aware in any way of any threats from them, or from anyone else, for that matter. And the idea of NBC News taking a threat seriously from a tabloid company about Matt Lauer is especially preposterous, since they already covered him with great regularity.”
Despite those denials, Farrow asserted in the interview: “The [book documents] a period in which secrets at NBC were under threat of exposure. And it is very clear from the conversations I document how heavily those secrets weighed on their [reporting] judgment.”
In an October 2017 exchange on the Today show that was awkward at the time – and especially awkward now – Lauer actually congratulated Farrow on the Weinstein scoop that NBC refused to air.
If NBC’s decision not to green light the Weinstein scandal story had anything to do with Weinstein threatening to go public with accusations against Lauer that would journalistic malpractice of the first order.