Ronan Farrow’s Ex-Producer Says ‘Highest Levels of NBC’ Nixed Harvey Weinstein Story

Rich McHugh backs Farrow’s account nearly a year after Weinstein story was first published

Last Updated: August 31, 2018 @ 6:40 AM

A former NBC News producer who worked on an iteration of Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein expose told the New York Times Thursday that people at “the very highest levels of NBC” work to quash the story at the network.

Rich McHugh, a producer formerly of the NBC News investigative unit, told the New York Times that he worked with Farrow on the story in the months before it was eventually published at the New Yorker, but NBC News refused the air the package.

According to McHugh, NBC was “resistant” during the eight months or so that he and Farrow worked on the story. But in August, 2017, when they were set to begin recording the accounts of Weinstein accusers on video, McHugh says the network abruptly pulled support.

“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, I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman, and to stand down on the story altogether,” McHugh told the Times.

McHugh did not name the person who gave the order, but told the times he believed that the decision was effectively about “killing the Harvey Weinstein story.”

In a statement to the Times, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim denied McHugh’s version of events, saying that Farrow had already departed NBC at the time of the Los Angeles shoot, and that’s why McHugh was told not to go.

“Ronan reached out to us and said: ‘I want to get this out now. I have a magazine that’s willing to do it. Will you be O.K. if I take the reporting to this magazine?'” the Times quoted Oppenheim. “And we granted him permission to do so.” Oppenheim continued, saying that the Los Angeles trip was weeks later.

“We said: ‘You’ve asked for permission to go elsewhere. You can’t use an NBC camera crew for another outlet. You can do whatever you want to do. And you don’t work for us,'”  Oppenheim told the Times.

“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,” the network added in a later statement.

McHugh’s account appears to back up Farrow’s veiled criticism of the network. Last October, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier and immediately, obviously The New Yorker recognized that. And it is not accurate to say it was not reportable and there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

NBC News has consistently pushed back against Farrow’s assertion, saying that Farrow did not have enough credible reporting to go to air with the package at the time he left NBC to take the story to The New Yorker. Oppenheim repeated that account to the Times, saying that  while Farrow was with NBC his story lacked “the standard for publication,” which was “at least one credible on-the-record victim or witness of misconduct.”

In the Times story, McHugh disputed the network’s assertion, pointing to the fact that NBC gave no attention to the Weinstein story on its evening broadcast the day it was published, despite reports by its competitors CBS and ABC.

“I don’t believe they’ve told the truth about it,” McHugh said. “That’s my opinion. I’ve asked that question, and to this day I still have not been given a good answer.”

NBC did not immediately reply to a request for comment from TheWrap.