How Did NBC Miss Out on a Harvey Weinstein Exposé?


A report by Ronan Farrow on allegations of mistreatment of women by Harvey Weinstein, shown here at the Cannes Film Festival in France last year, began at NBC News but was ultimately published by The New Yorker.

When Ronan Farrow made a guest appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday night, he tried to make it clear that he was the reporter, not the story.

“We are there in service of women doing something really tough,” Mr. Farrow told the host, “and I hope people hear their voices and focus on that.”

The next day, however, the media and entertainment industries were still discussing how and why Mr. Farrow’s story on allegations of sexual abuse levied against the film mogul Harvey Weinstein by numerous women had ended up being published by The New Yorker — after it began as an investigative report for NBC News.

Mr. Farrow, formerly a contributing correspondent for NBC News, told Ms. Maddow he had taken his investigation to The New Yorker only after the network dragged its feet. But Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, disputed the suggestion that the network’s news division had lacked the courage to air Mr. Farrow’s exposé.

“We supported him and gave him resources to report that story over many, many months,” Mr. Oppenheim said during an annual meeting with NBC News staff members on Wednesday at Studio 8H, the home of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” “The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us.”

Mr. Farrow’s 8,000-word article concerned 13 women, several of whom went on the record to accuse Mr. Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape. The story, published on Tuesday, went online days after the publication of the first of two investigative articles by The New York Times on Mr. Weinstein, who was fired from the Weinstein Company on Sunday.

Mr. Farrow, 29, is a son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, and a graduate of Yale Law School who hosted a short-lived show on MSNBC that was canceled because of low ratings. Since then, he has filed pieces for “Today” — Mr. Oppenheim’s last stop before his promotion in February — as part of a series called “Undercover With Ronan Farrow.”

So, why did Mr. Farrow, who had worked for NBC News since 2013, take it to a rival organization?

“I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier,” Mr. Farrow told Ms. Maddow on Tuesday. “And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that, and it’s not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

When Ms. Maddow pressed him to explain what had happened with NBC, he said, “Look, you would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story.”

Ronan Farrow, left, with his mother, Mia Farrow, in 2015. Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

At the annual town hall meeting, Mr. Oppenheim said NBC had determined over the summer that Mr. Farrow’s reporting lacked some elements it needed for publication, but that he had since filled the gaps.

“Ronan very understandably wanted to keep forging ahead,” Mr. Oppenheim said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the network. “So we didn’t want to stand in his way,…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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