Former NBC News investigative producer Rich McHugh, who worked with journalist Ronan Farrow on the explosive Harvey Weinstein report, is now claiming that the network attempted to effectively kill the story in the middle of their investigation.
According to a statement McHugh released to CNN on Thursday, he was ordered to kill the Weinstein story "from the highest levels of NBC," which adds was "unethical" and a "massive breach of journalistic integrity."
"At a critical juncture in our reporting on Harvey Weinstein, as we were about to interview a woman with a credible allegation of rape against him," McHugh said in the statement, "I was told not to do the interview and ordered to stand down, thus effectively killing the story."
McHugh also spoke out about the resistance he and Farrow faced from the network in a recent New York Times article published on Thursday, in which he said, "We were told to put the story on the back burner."
According to McHugh's article, he was ordered to halt the investigation just days before the pair were scheduled to conduct an interview with a woman, who appeared to have a "credible rape allegation against Harvey Weinstein," claiming that, at one point, the disgraced Hollywood mogul had even talked to NBC executives over the phone while McHugh was present in the room.
NBC News, however, has vehemently denied these allegations, accusing both Farrow and McHugh of "outright lying." A spokesperson for NBC released a statement on Friday morning, claiming that, "The assertion that NBC News tried to kill the Weinstein story while Ronan Farrow was at NBC News...is an outright lie." Instead, NBC says that Farrow chose to take the story elsewhere upon being told by the network that his report wasn't ready to air due to a lack of evidence.
"NBC News told him 'we will not stand in your way,' and allowed him to take his reporting to The New Yorker," the statement continued, "where, two months later, he published a strong piece that cited the...victims by name," none of whom were "included in the reporting Farrow presented while at NBC News."
The President of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim, claims that he never ordered McHugh to put an end to the Weinstein investigation "in the way he's implying," adding that Farrow asked him directly if he could take the story to a different news outlet prior to the scheduled interview with one of Weinstein's accusers.
"Something else must have been going on," McHugh told CNN. "As a journalist for 16 years I do know that when you have an explosive story you never let it walk out the door."