Disgraced former “Today” show host Matt Lauer reemerged out of nowhere on Tuesday and penned a scathing op-ed in which he denied the rape allegations and blasted journalist Ronan Farrow, the man who brought the claims against him to the attention of the world.
Lauer penned his op-ed for Mediaite after The New York Times ran a column by Ben Smith that criticized the reporting of Farrow, who destroyed the careers of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, former CBS CEO Les Moonves, and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein helped to launch the #MeToo movement and earned him the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Reporting.
Titled “Is Ronan Farrow Too Good to Be True?” Smith’s story cites two NBC sources who allegedly said that network executives saw him as “a talented young reporter with big ambitions but little experience, who didn’t realize how high the standards of proof were, particularly at slow-moving, super-cautious news networks.”
Lauer’s op-ed seems to be a direct response to The New York Times piece, as it is titled “Why Ronan Farrow is Indeed Too Good to be True,” and it focuses on Ronan’s 2019 book, “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.”
“What I found when I read the book was frankly shocking, and it should concern anyone who cares about journalism. This is not just about accusations against the former host of the ‘Today Show,'” Lauer wrote. “It’s about whether changing social attitudes can be allowed to change the most fundamental rules of journalism. It’s about whether, as journalists, we have a responsibility to check facts and vet sources. It’s about understanding the difference between journalism and activism. It is about whether we are putting far too much trust in journalists whose publicly stated opinions impact their ability to remain objective.”
Lauer went on to claim that many key figures in Farrow’s book were never spoken to by the reporter himself. Specifically, Lauer said he spent hours talking to two ex-boyfriends of Brooke Nevils, who accused Lauer of raping her in a hotel room in Sochi, Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics. One of the exes was a producer who Farrow alleged Nevils had told about her claim that Lauer assaulted her in a dressing room.
“We spoke by phone for the better part of two hours,” Lauer wrote. “He was very upset at being referenced, even indirectly, in the book, but he was worried that he would face criticism if he spoke out.”
“But he told me that Brooke did not come crying to see him in the control room to discuss any story of an assault involving me,” he added. “It didn’t happen. In fact, that ‘new guy’ in Brooke’s life told me that he wouldn’t have even been in the control room, at the time of day Ronan writes she ran crying to see him.”
Lauer added that this producer allegedly told him that “Ronan Farrow never reached out to him to fact check the story that referenced him in the book.” He then repeated his claim that the assault never happened, and that he instead engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with Nevils.
Farrow responded to Lauer’s op-ed on Twitter, writing, “All I’ll say on this is that Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself.”
All I’ll say on this is that Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself.
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) May 19, 2020
Lauer was fired from the “Today” show at the end of 2017 after the claims against him that Farrow publicized came to light. Over two years later, he made it clear in his op-ed that he is sticking to his story that while he made some poor decisions, he never assaulted anyone.
“I was fired from my job at the ‘Today’ show after admitting to having a consensual, yet inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee in the workplace,” Lauer wrote. “I am sorry for the way I conducted myself. I made some terrible decisions, and I betrayed the trust of many people.”
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