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NBC threatened to smear Ronan Farrow over Harvey Weinstein: report



ronan farrow
Ronan Farrow at the 2018 Time 100 Gala in New York in April

(Daily Beast, citing unnamed

  • Journalist Ronan Farrow was not allowed to publish his
    reporting on the sexual harassment allegations against movie
    producer Harvey Weinstein while working at NBC News.
  • A new report in The Daily Beast said that NBC News’
    general counsel called him multiple times and threatened to
    launch a “smear” campaign against him if he kept
  • Rich McHugh, a producer Farrow worked with on the
    story, also said he was “ordered” by NBC executives to stop
    reporting on the story.
  • NBC News has denied all those allegations, saying
    instead that it was concerned about Farrow’s sourcing.
  • The reasons behind NBC’s refusal to publish Farrow’s
    reporting are not clear. 
  • Farrow ultimately took his reporting to The New Yorker.
    His stories won him a Pulitzer prize.

NBC News executives allegedly threatened to launch a smear
campaign against the journalist Ronan Farrow if he continued
reporting on sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein,

The Daily Beast reported on Thursday

Farrow, who at the time worked at NBC News, had started
investigating allegations of Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior
toward women as early as November 2016, The
Beast said,
 citing unnamed sources.

The network refused to let Farrow produce those stories for NBC
News, but allowed him to take his reporting to another news
outlet instead. Farrow ended up publishing his stories in The New
Yorker, which won him a Pulitzer
prize in public service
 last year.

Now, new details have emerged about NBC News’ alleged cover-up of
the Weinstein story.

Susan Weiner, the network’s general counsel, made multiple phone
calls to Farrow and threatened to smear him if he continued
reporting on Weinstein,
the Daily Beast reported on Thursday
, citing multiple unnamed
sources. The Beast did not provide any further details about the
nature of the alleged smear.

Rich McHugh, a producer Farrow worked with at the
network, also
told The New York Times
that he was “ordered to stop”
reporting on the story by executives. He reiterated those claims
in a statement, which was published on Friday morning.

McHugh left NBC News about two weeks ago, claiming in a Friday
morning statement that it was over NBC’s refusal to publish
Farrow’s reporting. Read his statement below.

NBC News has denied both the allegations outlined in the Beast
and those by McHugh.

A spokesperson for NBC News, who was unnamed, told the Beast that
the allegations of Weiner’s threats were “absolutely false.”

The spokesperson said: “There’s no truth to that all. There is no
chance, in no version of the world, that Susan Weiner would tell
Ronan Farrow what he could or could not report on.”

Farrow told the Times in a statement, in response to McHugh’s
claims: “Rich is a fantastic producer and journalist. He’s a
person of integrity, and he cared deeply about the investigative
stories we worked on together and the importance of seeing them

Chris Francescani, a journalist who worked with McHugh at NBC
News in 2016, also corroborated the claims. “McHugh and Farrow
are telling the truth,” he
. “NBC News executives are not.”

Business Insider has contacted Farrow and NBC News for comment on
the allegations against Weiner, as well as McHugh’s claims.

NBC News logo
outside of NBC News studios in New York


Why NBC News refused to publish the story

Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, has said that the
network refused to publish Farrow’s reporting because he didn’t
have a source that would speak on the record at the time.

He told the Times in response to McHugh’s claims: “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. And we never met that threshold while
Ronan was reporting for us.”

He added that McHugh “was never told to stop in the way he’s

Oppenheim also claimed at the time that Farrow had a
conflict of interest in the story because Weinstein had helped
revive the career of Farrow’s estranged father, the director
Woody Allen, according to a
report by HuffPost published last November

woody allen
Woody Allen, Farrow’s estranged

Pascal Le

But the network’s critics believe there’s more to it. As McHugh
said in his Friday statement: “Something else must have been
going on.”

Farrow suspected that Oppenheim might even have been
communicating with Weinstein directly about the story, the Beast
reported, citing its sources. Oppenheim had been moonlighting as
a screenwriter in Hollywood, having written for
including “Jackie.” It’s not clear whether Oppenheim
had been working on any films with Weinstein at the time.

In summer 2017, Oppenheim had mentioned to Farrow that Weinstein
objected to Farrow’s reporting — before Farrow had even asked
Weinstein to comment on the allegations, the Beast reported. The
anonymous NBC News spokesperson said Oppenheim never had a
conversation about Farrow’s investigation. Business Insider has
contacted Farrow and NBC News for comment on this.

NBC News appeared so unwilling for Farrow to continue his
reporting that it refused to let him mention his affiliation with
the network or use its crew to interview Weinstein’s accusers,
HuffPost reported last November. Farrow paid for a TV crew out of
his own pocket, the news site said. Business Insider has
contacted NBC News for comment on this report.

The Times also noted that NBC did not devote any airtime to
covering Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations on
the day the Times broke a story about them
, while other
national news broadcasters like CBS and ABC did.

Weinstein going to court earlier this year.


Alleged threats from Weinstein’s people

Both McHugh and the Beast’s sources also described threats from
Weinstein’s associates to NBC News, McHugh, and Farrow.

McHugh told the Times: “Externally, I had Weinstein associates
calling me repeatedly. I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC
executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in
the room.”

According to the Beast’s sources, Charles Harder, an attorney for
Weinstein, also sent legal threats to Farrow and other NBC News
producers, claiming that the network had assured him that Farrow
would use any of the reporting he obtained from Weinstein while
working for the network. Business Insider has contacted Harder,
NBC News, and Farrow for comment on this.

The anonymous NBC News spokesperson told the Beast: “We
immediately were clear with Weinstein’s legal team that we
disputed the characterizations.”

Weinstein has repeatedly denied all allegations of
nonconsensual sex. He was
charged with rape, criminal sex conduct act, sex abuse, and
sexual misconduct
in New York this May, and is not allowed
out of the states of New York and Connecticut.

Farrow is currently writing a book,
named “Catch and Kill,
” which is expected to detail NBC News
executives’ refusal to publish his story on Weinstein.

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