NBC tried to block Ronan Farrow’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein, according to a former producer with the network’s investigative unit.
Former producer Rich McHugh told The New York Times that the attempt to stop Farrow’s reporting came from “the very highest levels of NBC.”
Farrow began investigating sexual assault and harassment allegations against the famed Hollywood movie producer early last year. His reporting on Weinstein was eventually published in The New Yorker, and Farrow later alleged that NBC had passed on the explosive report. (RELATED: NBC News Passed On Weinstein Story)
Now, McHugh is alleging that NBC was effectively “killing the Harvey Weinstein story” by ordering him and Farrow to stop the investigation.
“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, and to stand down on the story altogether,” McHugh said.
NBC News denies that they tried to stop Farrow, instead claiming that his work was not ready for publication because it did not have an on-the-record source. NBC News president Noah Oppenheim also says Farrow asked for permission to take the story to a different outlet before ever going to L.A. to interview the woman.
“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,” Oppenheim said. “We said, ‘You’ve asked for permission to go elsewhere. You can’t use an NBC camera crew for another outlet. You can do whatever you want to do. And you don’t work for us.’”
“He was never told to stop in the way he’s implying.” Oppenheim asserted.
The Daily Beast alleged in a Thursday report that NBC attorneys were also responsible for trying to handcuff Farrow. Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that NBC News General Counsel Susan Weiner called Farrow on several occasions and threatened to smear him if he didn’t kill his investigation.
NBC called those allegations false, stating, “There is no chance, in no version of the world, that Susan Weiner would tell Ronan Farrow what he could or could not report on.”
Farrow touted McHugh’s integrity in a statement responding to the allegations: “Rich is a fantastic producer and journalist. He’s a person of integrity, and he cared deeply about the investigative stories we worked on together and the importance of seeing them through.”
NBC News has faced a number of their own sexual harassment scandals, including serious allegations against anchor Matt Lauer and senior political analyst Mark Halperin. (RELATED: Lauer Scandal Adds To NBC’s Awful Record On Sexual Harassment)
Multiple women “complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding ‘Today,’” Variety Magazine reported this past November.
In the course of investigating alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse of staffers by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, multiple sources told The Daily Caller that the HR department at NBC is completely unhelpful to staffers. (RELATED: Sources: Chris Matthews Runs An Abusive Work Environment)
“Their common first instinct is to protect the talent, no matter what the complaint, and then turn the victim into the problem,” a former NBC producer said. “No other workplace like this exists where you can get away with that.”