(ANTIMEDIA) — NBC News attempted to shut down journalist Ronan Farrow’s reporting on sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, according to sources cited in the Daily Beast and claims made by Farrow’s producer in the New York Times this week.
Citing “multiple sources familiar with the matter,” the Daily Beast reported 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 ultimately ran his first bombshell story in the New Yorker last year, and though NBC News claims they pushed back on publishing the story because it wasn’t ready, Farrow has insisted it was.
The Daily Beast story relies heavily on anonymous sources, including an NBC spokesperson who denied the allegations against the outlet but still insisted on anonymity. “The sole point of the Susan Weiner’s conversation with Farrow, roughly a month after he had left NBC, was to make sure he wasn’t still telling sources that he was working on the story for NBC since he had moved on to The New Yorker,” the spokesperson reportedly said.
In November 2016, Farrow and NBC News producer Rich McHugh suggested doing a story on Hollywood’s “casting couch,” and NBC News President Noah Oppenheim approved, directing them to a tweet by actress Rose McGowan claiming a Hollywood executive had raped her. Over the next few months, Farrow gathered information suggested Weinstein had a pattern of harassment, a finding corroborated by prior reporting by various mainstream outlets.
McHugh, who resigned from NBC News on August 17 of this year, claimed this week in an interview with the New York Times that “the very highest levels of NBC” worked to kill the story as more evidence implicated Weinstein. McGowan eventually named Weinstein during the NBC investigation but reportedly pulled her accusation after threats from Weinstein. Farrow also obtained an audio recording from an NYPD sting where Weinstein admitted to groping Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.
According to the Daily Beast’s sources, when Farrow and McHugh played that audio for Oppenheim in the spring of last year, he questioned whether anyone still cared about Weinstein.
“That is absolutely false,” said an NBC News spokesperson, “and it is clearly contradicted by the fact that Oppenheim assigned the story on Harvey Weinstein in the first place. Obviously he understood him to be and believed him to be a newsworthy figure.”
But Farrow suspected Oppenheim was quietly communicating with Weinstein. Further, as McHugh told the Times:
“Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly,” McHugh told the Times. “I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”
McHugh cited other roadblocks from NBC News.
“Three days before Ronan and I were going to head to L.A. to interview a woman with a credible rape allegation against Harvey Weinstein,” he told the Times, “I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman. And to stand down on the story altogether.”
“We repeatedly made clear to Ronan and Rich McHugh the standard for publication is we needed at least one credible on-the-record victim or witness of misconduct,” Oppenheim told the Times. “And we never met that threshold while Ronan was reporting for us.”
Both Farrow and McHugh declined to comment on the Daily Beast’s story, but the outlet notes that Farrow is currently writing a book, titled Catch & Kill, “in which he is expected to share his recollection of NBC’s decisions around the Weinstein story and report more broadly on the conspiracy of silence that protects powerful men.”
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