NBC News allegedly had the goods on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in August, but decided against airing the story reported by Ronan Farrow.
Many on social media are now questioning why NBC executives apparently held back the information.
Farrow, now an NBC News contributor who was previously the host of a canceled MSNBC show, took his lengthy scoop based on a nearly year-long fact-finding process to The New Yorker magazine, where it was published online yesterday.
NBC sources apparently told The Daily Beast that Farrow’s story didn’t meet its standards that would allow it to go forward because Farrow’s investigation lacked enough on-the-record, on-camera interviews from alleged Weinstein victims. The network gave Farrow the green light to take it to a print outlet, however.
Last Thursday, the New York Times published a bombshell report containing accusations that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed actresses, staffers, and other women over three decades and allegedly entered into confidential financial settlements with eight of them. The alleged behavior by Weinstein was apparently an open secret in the film industry. The well-connected Weinstein reportedly has a history of aggressively trying to suppress any negative stories about him in the media.
In The New Yorker piece, Farrow provided more details about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct with various women, including rape allegations.
“In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them, allegations that corroborate and overlap with the Times’ revelations, and also include far more serious claims. Three women—among them [Asia] Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex…Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace…”
For career reasons, particularly Weinstein’s powerful influence throughout the film industry, most people in the Oscar-winning producer’s orbit (some of whom were subject to legally binding nondisclosure agreements) kept quiet about what they knew until now. In fact, celebrities have been slow out of the gate in disavowing Weinstein, although they seem to be more vocal now that he has been banished from his production company. Many victims, in particular, are now also coming forward.
Farrow’s story also included what purports to be audio from an NYPD sting of a disturbing encounter between Weinstein and a model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez.
In a town hall meeting with employees today, Noah Oppenheim denied that the network “tried to cover for a powerful person,” and described that implication as “deeply offensive,” BuzzFeed reported. He also insisted that Farrow’s New Yorker piece was ultimately far more detailed than what he had put together for NBC.
When asked on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show last night why the Weinstein story never ran on the parent network, Ronan Farrow seemed to deflect to some degree.
“You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about that story…I will say over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so. And there are now reports emerging publicly about the kinds of pressure that news organizations face in this, and that is real. In the course of this reporting, I was threatened with a lawsuit personally by Mr. Weinstein…”
Ronan Farrow added that he walked into The New Yorker with “an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier…In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
“Farrow’s comment, delivered on the company’s own network, raised the question as to whether NBC News buckled under legal pressure from the notoriously aggressive Weinstein — or whether the company’s entertainment connections to the mogul inhibited the investigation,” BuzzFeed added.
Twelve unnamed insiders “detailed a months-long struggle within NBC News during which Oppenheim and other executives slow-walked Farrow’s story, crippling it with their qualms and irresolution,” the Huffington Post claimed.
Eyebrows were also raised when NBC’s Saturday Night Live ignored the Weinstein scandal.
Parenthetically, The Wrap CEO Sharon Waxman says that she investigated Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct back in 2004 as a New York Times reporter, but the paper gutted the story. “I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.”
Harvey Weinstein is also a well-known fundraiser and donor for the Democrats with close ties to the Clintons, and after five days of silence, Hillary Clinton issued a statement through her publicist condemning his behavior.
Information about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and what role the media industry including NBC News may or may not have played in bringing it into the public domain, seems to be unfolding by the minute. Watch this space for updates.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]
Added: In the video below, Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz suggests that NBC may have had a conflict of interest because of its business ventures with Weinstein’s company and also because he is a liberal Democrat.