Ronan Farrow: NBC ‘Ordered A Hard Stop to Reporting’ About Weinstein

Listen to the Article!

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday to discuss his new book, Catch and Kill, journalist Ronan Farrow described how NBC News executives ordered him to cease all reporting on allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017. That revelation came following another bombshell in the upcoming book that Weinstein may have used knowledge of disgraced Today show host Matt Lauer’s wrongdoings to blackmail NBC into killing the story.

Prior to Farrow sitting down for an interview with co-host George Stephanopoulos, correspondent Linsey Davis detailed some of the news made in the book: “In Ronan Farrow’s upcoming new book, Catch and Kill, the investigative reporter details what he says were powerful attempts to stifle the reporting that ultimately sparked the explosive [Weinstein] scandal and the Me Too movement.”

 

 

Davis explained that “In August of 2017, Farrow says he thought he had enough of a story, including secretly recorded audio of Weinstein provided by an alleged victim willing to be named....Farrow also says he had an accuser in shadow, anonymous corroborating witnesses, and he believed he could convince some accusers to go on the record.” In the audio recording, Weinstein could be heard admitting to groping Ambra Gutierrez, after she confronted him about being “aggressive” and touching her “breast.”

Despite all of that evidence against Weinstein, Davis noted that “instead of airing the story or encouraging more reporting, Farrow writes he was told by NBC News executives to ‘pause’ on all reporting, cancel interviews...” The reporter specifically highlighted:

...and according to Farrow, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim questioned whether Harvey Weinstein’s comments on the tape they were even newsworthy. Reportedly saying, “I don’t know what it proves. He is trying to get rid of her. People say a lot of things when they’re trying to get rid of a girl like that. Harvey Weinstein grabbing a lady’s breasts a couple of years ago, that’s not national news.”

Later in the interview with Farrow, Stephanopoulos pointed out denials from Oppenheim and NBC chairman Andrew Lack, summarizing: “They’re basic point is they assigned you the story but you didn’t come back with one that met they’re standards, including an on-the-record accusation.”

Farrow completely dismantled those claims:

Look, I’m confident in the reporting in the book, I’ll let it stand on its own. But the point here is not that we did indeed have multiple named women in every draft of this story, we did indeed have a taped confession from Harvey Weinstein. The point is that they ordered a hard stop to reporting. They told me and a producer working on this that we should not take a single call, they told us to cancel interviews. The question for years has been why? Because every journalist at that institution didn’t understand why. And I think the book answers that question. This was a company with a lot of secrets.

Moments later, Stephanopoulos followed up by asking: “Well, that is the big question, why? I mean, you lay out the suggestion that Harvey Weinstein was blackmailing NBC News.” Farrow replied:

Multiple sources do say that and the way in which that’s framed is very careful. All of NBC’s denials are in the book. We fact-checked for many hours with them. That said, it is indisputable, based on the evidence in this book, that there was a chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up with victims of harassment and assault. Some of them about Lauer, some about others in the company. This was a pattern, it was concealed from journalists there.

The journalist added: “The reason this reporting was important is because this is a pattern in media, in law, in politics, institutions that conceal abuse of this type let people get hurt and that’s something we should all care about.”

Stephanopoulos again asked: “But did they allow it because they were afraid information about Matt Lauer was gonna get out?” Farrow simply stated: “That is what the extensive conversations, transcripts, and documents presented in this book suggest.”

Earlier in the conversation, Stephanopoulos wondered about Farrow’s reporting that NBC News executives knew about accusations against Lauer years before the anchor’s firing in November of 2017 over rape allegations. Farrow laid out the facts:

We spent several years reporting this out, extensively fact-checking it. What we show in this book, with a paper trail, with documents, is that there were multiple secret settlements and non-disclosures being struck with women at NBC News....Years before. Over a period of six to seven years. A period in which NBC had previously denied any settlements. There were seven non-disclosure agreements, multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers. This is years before this incident with Brooke Nevils and the firing. And I spoke to senior executives who were told about those earlier incidents.

Stephanopoulos clarified: “So when they say this is the first they heard about any allegations about Matt Lauer, were after the fact, after November 2017?” Without using the word “lie,” Farrow explained the network’s dishonesty: “I’ll let the facts in the book speak for themselves, but I think that this is difficult to believe when you look at the documents and records.”

The scandal surrounding Matt Lauer seems to keep growing, even two years later, now enveloping the top echelon of NBC News.

Here are excerpts of October 11 coverage on GMA:

7:32 AM ET

(...)

LINSEY DAVIS: In Ronan Farrow’s upcoming new book, Catch and Kill, the investigative reporter details what he says were powerful attempts to stifle the reporting that ultimately sparked the explosive scandal and the Me Too movement. In August of 2017, Farrow says he thought he had enough of a story, including secretly recorded audio of Weinstein provided by an alleged victim willing to be named, Ambra Gutierrez.

AMBRA GUTIERREZ: Yesterday was kind of aggressive for. Why yesterday you touch my breast.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Oh, come on, I’m used to that.  

DAVIS: Farrow also says he had an accuser in shadow, anonymous corroborating witnesses, and he believed he could convince some accusers to go on the record. But instead of airing the story or encouraging more reporting, Farrow writes he was told by NBC News executives to “pause” on all reporting, cancel interviews, and according to Farrow, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim questioned whether Harvey Weinstein’s comments on the tape they were even newsworthy. Reportedly saying, “I don’t know what it proves. He is trying to get rid of her. People say a lot of things when they’re trying to get rid of a girl like that. Harvey Weinstein grabbing a lady’s breasts a couple of years ago, that’s not national news.”

Farrow kept going. Ultimately taking his reporting to The New Yorker magazine. Farrow says he was told by Noah Oppenheim that he could take it elsewhere, saying, “Right now we can’t run this...Go with God.” The story won a Pulitzer Prize.

This week, in a memo to NBC News staff, chairman Andy Lack maintained that when Farrow presented his reporting to NBC he didn’t have one victim or witness or victim on the record, saying Farrow, “Simply didn’t have a story that met our standard for broadcast.

Then, with the Me Too movement in full swing, another stunning fall.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning, breaking news overnight.

DAVIS: Matt Lauer fired for what NBC said was sexual misconduct.

(...)

7:36 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s go into how NBC handled this as well. They say they first learned about this in November 2017. Matt was fired, we just saw that, within 24 hours. Here’s what Andy Lack said, “Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive.” And that, they’re saying they did something as soon as they knew.

RONAN FARROW: So, this is an important point, George. This is not what the reporting in the book suggests. We spent several years reporting this out, extensively fact-checking it. What we show in this book, with a paper trail, with documents, is that there were multiple secret settlements and non-disclosures being struck with women at NBC News.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But those were after the fact, weren’t they? The two non-disclosures?  

FARROW: Nope. Years before. Over a period of six to seven years. A period in which NBC had previously denied...

STEPHANOPOULOS: On Matt Lauer?

FARROW: ...any settlements. There were seven non-disclosure agreements, multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers. This is years before this incident with Brooke Nevils and the firing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And –

FARROW: And I spoke to senior executives who were told about those earlier incidents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: With Matt Lauer?

FARROW: Indeed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They definitely know. So when they say this is the first they heard about any allegations about Matt Lauer, were after the fact, after November 2017?

FARROW: I’ll let the facts in the book speak for themselves, but I think that this is difficult to believe when you look at the documents and records.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did Brooke or her attorneys use the words “rape” or “sexual assault” when they went to NBC?

FARROW: We’re very careful about laying out exactly what happened and what she said when she went to them. She unambiguously described a rape or sexual assault. Like many trauma victims, she was not ready to use those words. So her attorney did what is done very often in criminal investigations, in cases like this where someone complains at a company, asked a clear series of questions that elicited answers that, without any doubt, said this is nonconsensual. And even stopped the proceedings to say, “This was nonconsensual, we want to be clear.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: The other big allegation in the book, NBC preventing you from finishing your reporting on Harvey Weinstein. Andy Lack says, “This is a fundamentally untrue picture.” Noah Oppenheim, “I’d have to write my own book to refute all the ways Ronan willfully distorts our interactions.” They’re basic point is they assigned you the story but you didn’t come back with one that met they’re standards, including an on-the-record accusation.

FARROW: Look, I’m confident in the reporting in the book, I’ll let it stand on its own. But the point here is not that we did indeed have multiple named women in every draft of this story, we did indeed have a taped confession from Harvey Weinstein. The point is that they ordered a hard stop to reporting. They told me and a producer working on this that we should not take a single call, they told us to cancel interviews. The question for years has been why? Because every journalist at that institution didn’t understand why. And I think the book answers that question. This was a company with a lot of secrets.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is their point bolstered by the fact that it took you, what, another seven weeks to get this story in shape for The New Yorker?

FARROW: That’s inaccurate. We lay out the timeline in the book, it was briefer than that. There was actually a very brief period of about a month where The New Yorker green-lit the story and then got it out as quickly as humanly possible. But the argument has never been that the story had no room to grow, that there couldn’t be additional reporting, it’s that they halted reporting and this book explains why.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that is the big question, why? I mean, you lay out the suggestion that Harvey Weinstein was blackmailing NBC News.

FARROW: Multiple sources do say that and the way in which that’s framed is very careful. All of NBC’s denials are in the book. We fact-checked for many hours with them. That said, it is indisputable, based on the evidence in this book, that there was a chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up with victims of harassment and assault. Some of them about Lauer, some about others in the company. This was a pattern, it was concealed from journalists there. And, George, that’s bigger than NBC. It’s bigger than these executives. These are not highly public figures. The reason this reporting was important is because this is a pattern in media, in law, in politics, institutions that conceal abuse of this type let people get hurt and that’s something we should all care about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But did they allow it because they were afraid information about Matt Lauer was gonna get out?

FARROW: That is what the extensive conversations, transcripts, and documents presented in this book suggest.

(...)

NB Daily Media Scandals ABC Good Morning America NBC Video Harvey Weinstein Ronan Farrow Matt Lauer Georg Stephanopoulos

Sponsored Links