NBC News reportedly had an opportunity to break a massive story just before the #MeToo era began, but it appears the network withheld it from the public.
The network received a scoop last year that disgraced director Harvey Weinstein had a credible rape accuser; Ronan Farrow and another reporter were set to break the news, but it had other ideas.
“Three days before Ronan [Farrow] 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,” an NBC News whistleblower told The New York Times.
The Daily Beast later identified him as former NBC producer Rich McHugh.
The decision to squash the story came from company executives. NBC News president Noah Oppenheim is the one who made the final decision, according to The Daily Beast and other outlets.
The reason for this is allegedly that Oppenheim did not want to irk prominent Hollywood figures — including Weinstein — because he aspired to get back into the film industry himself.
Back in 2016, Oppenheim earned the Best Screenplay Award at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival for a film he wrote, called “Jackie.” The movie, released in the United States in December 2016, focused on the life of Jackie Kennedy following the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy. It starred Natalie Portman and earned $25.1 million at the box office on a $9 million budget.
Prior to that, he also served as a screenwriter for “The Maze Runner” (2014) and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” (2016).
The timing of this work is relevant because multiple outlets reported that Farrow and McHugh pitched the story to initially investigate Hollywood’s “casting couch” in January 2017. Their plan was to air the story around the time of the Oscars in February of that year.
While the timing of that story’s being shut down is suspicious, Fox News also reported that the higher-ups at NBC had been cautious about burning their connections in Hollywood due to negative tabloid stories about stars within the industry.
Ultimately, Farrow earned a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the major sex abuse scandal in Hollywood — but it was for his work with The New Yorker later in the year.
(Had he done his initial report for NBC as he wished, Farrow would not have won the Pulitzer Prize because broadcast outlets are ineligible for the award.)
NBC also seemingly ignored the allegations made against “Today” show host Matt Lauer over sexual misconduct. Lauer was fired in November 2017 due to charges of sexual misconduct, but the Huffington Post was one of many outlets that pointed out that NBC was likely aware of these claims before the network took any action about them.
For more on how NBC News killed the original Weinstein report, check out the video below:
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.