PBS host Christiane Amanpour appeared puzzled as to why NBC spiked Ronan Farrow’s investigation into powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Discussing the disgraced Democratic donor on Monday, Amanpour asked the journalist: “Why do you think the media entities [spiked the story]? Our DNA is to be investigative. What was it about the media that wanted you not to tell these stories?” It's in the DNA of reporters? It wasn't with President Bill Clinton.
Speaking of NBC, Amanpour noted: “The network that you were working for spiked it.” She allowed: “The press had a role itself in suppressing some of these stories for a long, long time.” Farrow explained: “The questions about the role of the media over the years of silence around the Harvey Weinstein story are absolutely correct.”
He concluded: “But you're absolutely right to suggest that, you know, what happened here is contrary to the spirit of investigating the truth, and that's a real problem.”
It’s odd that Amanpour would be confused about why journalists wouldn’t reflexively investigate sex scandals. Here’s how the networks reacted to Juanita Broaddrick’s rape allegations against another powerful Democrat, Bill Clinton:
When Broaddrick’s name first surfaced in March of 1998 as a Clinton rape victim, ABC and CBS skipped it, and NBC’s morning and evening newscasts aired just over 7 minutes of coverage. When Broaddrick went public with her charges on February 19, 1999, to Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal (since NBC was still withholding the interview of Broaddrick conducted by Lisa Myers, which would eventually air on Dateline), the coverage in the first three days amounted to just three minutes, 23 seconds.
A partial transcript is below:
Amanpour on PBS
RONAN FARROW: But as I was reporting on this, I was very, very fearful that this story was going to be fully shutdown and these women would never be heard so I'm relieved.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You were essentially — you didn't know whether you would get this Me Too story out. The network that you were working for spiked it. The press had a role itself in suppressing some of these stories for a long, long time.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about it.
FARROW: The questions about the role of the media over the years of silence around the Harvey Weinstein story are absolutely correct. And one of the ways in which I have conducted this reporting is to focus on the systems that it exposes, the way in which law enforcement became an avatar for the interests of powerful men and this revolving door between the D.A.’s office in New York and high-priced private investigation firms that do the work of influencing the D.A.’s office, you know, media entities became a force for suppression and —
AMANPOUR: Why do you think the media entities? Our DNA is to be investigative. What was it about the media that wanted you not to tell these stories?
FARROW: Well, you know, I have to be careful about what I say at this point. I think there will be more to come later and I've been very focused on the underlying allegations. I don't want to distract from what these women did and said. But you're absolutely right to suggest that, you know, what happened here is contrary to the spirit of investigating the truth, and that's a real problem.
FARROW: It turned out to be profoundly risky, you know? Really for a time my television career ended when I refused to stop reporting this story. He made devastating personal threats, you know. I had some unsavory characters following me and staking me out. None of that is all commensurate with the tremendous trauma that these women, these sources went through.