NBC News chief defends network's handling of Weinstein story

MSNBC
Ronan Farrow speaking with Rachel Maddow on Oct. 10

On Tuesday, The New Yorker published its own exposé on allegations of sexual harassment and rape against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, following a blockbuster report in The New York Times.

They spiked the story, which eventually ran on The New Yorker's website. He was sacked from the production company he helped create over the weekend and has admitted he needs to seek counseling, even as he has threatened to sue the New York Times and media companies allege huge pressure from him and his lawyers to kill the stories. He rejected the idea that the story "wasn't ready to go" and alluded to the idea that NBC may have caved to pressure from the accused.

Farrow's piece was originally targeted to air on NBC in February, just as Hollywood was gearing up for the Oscars, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. When asked by Maddow why the story ran in the New Yorker rather than on NBC, Farrow replied: "You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details".

One person familiar with the process suggested Farrow had amassed strong material for NBC News. "I will say that, over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so". "I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier". "And immediately, obviously, the New Yorker recognized that, and it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable".

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Early in his investigation, Farrow told multiple people he was working on the story for NBC. Farrow had the audio recording of Weinstein, for instance, while reporting the story for NBC. As we previously reported, Ronan already opened up about his investigation to NBC's Nightly News and PBS NewsHour.

In any case, sources said that Farrow arrived at the vaunted magazine with lots of reporting, and that they wonder why NBC News wasn't willing to see the story through after so many months.

NBC was lambasted for spiking the story online, and many brought up a similar situation involving NBC previous year. For NBC, the swirling media controversy was immediately reminiscent of another missed opportunity for its news division - the internal leak of its infamous Access Hollywood Donald Trump tape to the Washington Post nearly exactly one year ago. The Post said it took five hours to vet and post the story after receiving the tip.

But NBC News executives have strenuously - and privately - pushed back on the narrative that they spiked the story.

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