NBC News on Thursday night denied an accusation by a former producer that top executives tried to block Ronan Farrow’s 2017 exposé of Harvey Weinstein, calling the claim “an outright lie.”
“The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie,” read the NBC statement.
Earlier Thursday, Rich McHugh, a producer formerly of the NBC News investigative unit, told the New York Times that people at “the very highest levels of NBC” worked to quash the story at the network.
McHugh said the network was “resistant” during the eight months or so that he and Farrow investigated Weinstein for the story. But in August 2017, when they were set to begin recording the accounts of Weinstein accusers on video, McHugh said the network abruptly pulled support.
“I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman, and to stand down on the story altogether,” McHugh told the Times.
Farrow left NBC in August 2017, taking the Weinstein story to The New Yorker, which would go on to publish an award-winning series of articles detailing accusations against the mogul of repeated sexual misconduct, including assault and rape. (Weinstein has consistently denied engaging in nonconsensual sex.)
In the Times, NBC News also disputed McHugh’s version of events, saying that Farrow began videotaping Weinstein accusers after he’d already left. That, the network said, is why it told McHugh, who still worked for the network, not to assist Farrow.
Also on Thursday a Daily Beast article suggested that NBC News went even further to prevent Farrow’s investigation. According to the unnamed sources, NBC News general counsel Susan Weiner threatened to smear Farrow if he didn’t stop reporting on Weinstein even after he had left the network.
NBC denied those accusations, telling The Daily Beast, “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.”
The Daily Beast also cited multiple sources who said that Weinstein’s attorney, Charles Harder, made legal threats to Farrow claiming that the firm had received “written assurances” from NBC News that Farrow would not use any of what he obtained about Weinstein while working for the network.
An NBC spokesperson also told The Daily Beast, “We immediately were clear with Weinstein’s legal team that we disputed the characterizations.”
In its statement Thursday night, NBC reiterated previous statements that Farrow’s story on Weinstein wasn’t ready for broadcast when Farrow was at NBC, and that it allowed Farrow to take his reporting elsewhere without hassle.
In its statement, the network called Farrow’s reporting for The New Yorker “a strong piece,” but said none of the women featured in the magazine story were included in what Farrow had earlier presented to NBC News.
Read the network’s full statement below.
“The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News, or even more ludicrously, after he left NBC News, is an outright lie.
In August of 2017, after NBC News assigned Ronan Farrow to investigate Weinstein and supported his reporting efforts for eight months, Farrow believed his reporting was ready for air. NBC disagreed because, unfortunately, he did not yet have a single victim of — or witness to — misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified. Dissatisfied with that decision, Farrow chose to leave for a print outlet that he said was willing to publish immediately. NBC News told him “we will not stand in your way,” and allowed him to take his reporting to The New Yorker, where, two months later, he published a strong piece that cited the following victims by name: Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Lucia Evans, Emma de Canes, Jessica Barth, and Sophie Dix. Not one of these seven women was included in the reporting Farrow presented while at NBC News.”