NBC Threatened Ronan Farrow Over Weinstein Story, 'New Yorker' Publishes Instead

The story of how Ronan Farrow’s expose on Harvey Weinstein ended up at The New Yorker is long and widely known. After working on the story at NBC and seeing little hope in having it broadcast, Farrow took the piece to the magazine, where he found willing editors and eventually won a Pulitzer for his work.

Now, new and conflicting information is emerging about Farrow’s time at NBC.

On Monday, NBC News released a 10-page internal report that was sent to employees following a New York Times story last week claiming NBC impeded Farrow and Rich McHugh, NBC News’ former supervising producer of investigative reporting and Farrow’s ex-producer, from pursing the story.



According to Variety, an NBC spokesperson stated: “While [Farrow] was told by his editors that several elements of the draft script were technically ‘reportable,’ he was consistently advised that – even taken together – they were not yet sufficient to air a story alleging serial sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein without at least one victim or witness on the record.”

In a follow-up statement released by Farrow, he said the story “was twice cleared and deemed ‘reportable’ by legal and standards only to be blocked by executives who refused to allow us to seek comment from Harvey Weinstein.”

As reported by The Daily Beast, several sources at the network also say a top lawyer for NBC threatened to “smear” Farrow if he published the piece.

What hasn’t been revealed: Why NBC would want to thwart what became a bombshell investigation that changed the culture in both the entertainment world and beyond.

Is this another example of a powerful man being protected by a large news organization or publisher?

Ironically, Donald Trump spoke out against NBC on Tuesday via Twitter, calling its behavior “unethical” and threatening to revoke its license. (Fact check: Trump has no power over the FCC and news delivered by cable isn’t controlled by the government.) 

Trump’s attack comes as tabloid publisher American Media Inc CEO David Pecker is busy spilling details about his “catch and kill” story tactics to protect powerful individuals. The intention is to cash in favors later.

For over a decade, Pecker has collected stories that would cast Donald Trump in a poor light, possibly hurting his chances for political office, if he chose to run. According to a report by The New York Times last week, Trump hoped to buy those stories back from Pecker in an attempt to protect himself in the event something happened to Pecker or he left AMI.

So, while NBC didn’t take part in a traditional “catch and kill” a la Pecker, it agreed with Farrow that he should take the story elsewhere. Was it trying to protect Weinstein in the process? Did NBC hope the story would be rejected elsewhere, so it wouldn't take  the heat for exposing the movie mogul?

Hiding information from the public, particularly during a presidential campaign, is an unforgivable breach of professional ethics. But denying a voice to an important story that exposed a habitual and powerful sexual predator is despicable.

1 comment about "NBC Threatened Ronan Farrow Over Weinstein Story, 'New Yorker' Publishes Instead".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 5, 2018 at 12:11 p.m.

    Fact check:  According to a Reuters story, Trump was "suggesting a “look at their license,” without specifying what exactly he was calling for" -- that's hardly "threatening to revoke" licenses for O&O stations, although it certainly constitutes an attack. To be fair, attacks move in both directions.

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