A former producer at NBC says the left-wing network tried to kill the story Ronan Farrow told in the New Yorker about movie tycoon Harvey Weinstein.
It is the first time, as the New York Times reported, that anyone from the network has publicly accused it of trying to bury the shocking allegations that detailed rapes, sex assaults. and perverted behavior. Police arrested Weinstein on rape charges in May, then filed more charges against him in July. He posted $1 million in bail.
The producer “accused the network of putting a stop to the reporting,” the Times reported, “saying the order came from ‘the very highest levels of NBC.’”
NBC denies the claim, of course, but in the end it doesn’t much matter what NBC did with the story. The network’s credbility was nearly destroyed because of its scandal, and Weinstein’s finished in Hollywood.
NBC Blocked Farrow
Ron McHugh told the Times that NBC tried to nip Farrow’s story in the bud when the two were reporting the story for NBC. “Mr. McHugh, 43, described NBC as ‘resistant’ throughout the eight-month reporting process, a characterization disputed by the network,” the Times reported. “Last August, he said, it seemed that the network was no longer supporting the story.”
“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,” Mr. McHugh said. “And to stand down on the story altogether.”
The producer would not disclose which executives had given him that direction. But by doing so, the network was, in his view, “killing the Harvey Weinstein story.”
Not surprisingly, NBC denied McHugh’s claims, saying that Farrow hadn’t nailed down the story, despite having Weinstein’s admission of one assault on tape. “He was never told to stop in the way he’s implying,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told the Times.
One problem, in Mr. Oppenheim’s view, was the lack of on-the-record, on-camera interviews.
“We repeatedly made clear to Ronan and Rich McHugh the standard for publication is we needed at least one credible on-the-record victim or witness of misconduct,” Mr. Oppenheim said. “And we never met that threshold while Ronan was reporting for us.”
When Farrow requested permission to finish the story for a magazine, Oppenheim told the Times, the network granted it. The network refused Farrow’s request to use an NBC film crew to record interviews.
For his part, Farrow praises McHugh as the “unsung hero of this entire story.”
McHugh also told the Times that Weinstein directly pressured NBC to kill the story. “Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly,” he told the newspaper. “I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”
NBC denied Weinstein influenced the network’s story.
Charges Against Weinstein
Whether NBC tossed obstacles in Farrow’s way under pressure from Weinstein, or whether it simply fumbled the story, the debacle was a major embarrassment for the network, given what Farrow disclosed about the movie magnate in the New Yorker.
Three of the women ... told me that Weinstein had raped them.... Four women said that they had experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault. In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015, Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to.” Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.
Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies ... witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace.... All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
The Times published a major story about Weinstein’s crimes a week or so before Farrow, revealing that the lubricious, out-of-control movie mogul paid off his victims for decades.
Later, it divulged another revolting detail: Assistants “were required to procure his penile injections for erectile dysfunction.”
As for NBC, it had a problem of its own: Matt Lauer. The network was forced to fire the leftist faceman because of his sexual misconduct. Not surprisingly, an internal investigation found that the network did nothing wrong in the way it handled the matter.