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Accusations Fly Over NBC News and a Bombshell Story

Producer who worked with Ronan Farrow speaks out
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2018 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Soon after Ronan Farrow's Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on Harvey Weinstein ran in the New Yorker came word that he had originally been working on the piece for NBC News. Farrow said the network dropped the story, and when initially asked why, he said, "You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details." Now, those details may be emerging, at least via a former producer with the network who spoke to the New York Times and via the Daily Beast's sources. NBC News very vocally denies the new claim that it tried to kill the story, and Farrow had no comment.

  • The Beast lays out a timeline dating to November 2016, when Farrow and producer Rich McHugh decided to report on Hollywood's infamous "casting couch" and were reportedly advised by NBC News President Noah Oppenheim to look into Rose McGowan's October 2016 tweet about rape at the hands of a Hollywood exec.

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  • The men secured interviews and an NYPD audio recording, but by the spring, Oppenheim was allegedly cooling to the story. The Beast's sources say Farrow started to think Oppenheim was possibly in communication with Weinstein (Oppenheim is also a screenwriter); that summer, Oppenheim allegedly told Farrow that Weinstein had issues with his reporting—which Farrow hadn't discussed with Weinstein.
  • Both stories say things came to a head in August 2017, when Farrow and McHugh secured an interview with an alleged Weinstein victim in LA. The Beast reports NBC News wouldn't allow them the use of a camera crew. McHugh tells the Times three days before they were to depart "I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman. And to stand down on the story altogether." He did not specify who gave the order.
  • In comments to the Times, Oppenheim says that timeline isn't quite right: that the day before the trip Farrow asked him to take the story to a magazine and he said yes. Oppenheim says he only subsequently denied the men the camera crew because Farrow had already asked to depart with the story.
  • McHugh, who is speaking out two weeks after getting a new job and leaving NBC News, says "the very highest levels of NBC" put the story on ice in what he sees as "a massive breach of journalistic integrity."
  • The Beast's sources share some more extreme allegations: that Weinstein's attorney alleged he had an agreement with NBC News that Farrow's reporting wouldn't be used, and that NBC News general counsel Susan Weiner made threatening comments to Farrow in a bid to get him to drop the story.

  • Per CNN, NBC News had this to say in a statement: "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."
  • NBC News has maintained the story just wasn't buttoned up enough, chiefly because Farrow had plenty of interviews but no victim ready to go on the record. The LA Times reports Oppenheim said NBC lawyers did indeed contact Farrow, but not in an effort to silence him. "All our legal department was trying to do was to act responsibly, which is to say, 'We can’t defend your reporting because you're not doing it for us anymore, so please don't cite NBC as you reach out to sources.'"
  • As for Oppenheim's connection to Weinstein, he says he met him a single time at Time's "Time 100" dinner in New York in April 2017, and that Weinstein used the opportunity to tell him he wasn't a fan of Jackie, which Oppenheim wrote.
  • ABC News reporter Chris Francescani tweeted the Times story and added this: "I worked in the @NBCNews Investigative Unit in the fall of 2016. @RichMcHughNBC and @RonanFarrow are telling the truth. @NBCNews executives are not."
(Read more Ronan Farrow stories.)

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