It’s been almost a year since the New Yorker published Ronan Farrow’s first major exposé on Harvey Weinstein, in which three women came forward, on the record, to accuse the Hollywood mega producer of sexual assault. Farrow eventually won a Pulitzer for his reporting on the topic, which finally codified decades of rumors about Weinstein into a series of concrete, well-researched accusations, and kicked off the wider #MeToo movement in the process.
And while most of the focus in the intervening months has, rightly, been on the women who experienced the trauma that Farrow reported on, there’s also been an ongoing thread tracing how difficult it was to get that story in front of the American people in the first place. We’ve previously reported on the fact that Farrow says Weinstein—infamous for his tenacity in creating leverage to keep people quiet about his alleged actions—threatened to personally sue him over it. But there’s also the wider question of why Farrow—who was, up until last year, a correspondent for NBC’s Today—ended up publishing the story with the New Yorker, and not at his home network.
At the time, Farrow simply noted that “You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details. I’m not going to comment on any news organization’s story that they did or did not run. I will say that over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so.” NBC, meanwhile, has always contended that no pressuring took place, and that Farrow’s story simply didn’t meet its burden of provable truth to run. (And that the network was perfectly happy for him to take it to the New Yorker instead.)
Now, a former NBC News producer who worked with Farrow on the story has questioned those claims, asserting that the network outright ordered Farrow to stop his Weinstein reporting, and attempted to block him from interviewing some of the women accusing the film mogul of assault. Producer Rich McHugh blasted his former network in a New York Times interview that ran today, accusing them of conducting “a massive breach of journalistic integrity” that reached “the very highest levels of NBC.”
McHugh—who left NBC two weeks ago—says that the network was frequently “resistant” to the story, and that, at one point, he and Farrow were set to fly to Los Angeles to interview a woman ready to accuse Weinstein, on the record, of assault, when NBC ordered them “to stop, not to interview this woman. And to stand down on the story altogether.” McHugh categorizes the network’s efforts as an attempt to kill the story, and said he only stayed with the company for the last few months out of a desire to support his family.
NBC disputes McHugh’s characterization aggressively. According to NBC News boss Noah Oppenheim, by the time the interview in question was being arranged, Farrow had already asked him about taking his reporting on Weinstein to a magazine. As such, he was concerned that Farrow was attempting to use NBC resources to acquire material for an outside publication, and shot the request down (severing the company’s relationship with Farrow in the process). He also loudly pushed back against the idea that NBC was intentionally attempting to kill the story, pointing out that he’d personally encouraged Farrow to interview Rose McGowan—who’s also accused Weinstein of assault—but that, at the time, she was refusing to say the producer’s name on camera.
Farrow, for his part, obliquely commented on McHugh’s story today; he issued a statement for the Times piece noting that “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.”