NBC News chairman Andy Lack is disputing some of the details reported about disgraced studio chief Harvey Weinstein and fired anchor Matt Lauer in Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” calling the account “fundamentally untrue,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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In the book, Farrow wrote about more allegations of sexual misconduct against Lauer which led to speculation that the network could have known about Lauer’s behavior earlier than the company has previously said, including an account from former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, who said Lauer raped her at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, according to multiple reports. Nevils, who weighed in on Twitter Wednesday, said she reported the incident to NBC afterward.
But Lack, in a memo to employees obtained by THR, wrote that Lauer was fired within 24 hours after NBCUniversal leaders learned of his “appalling and reprehensible” conduct.
“Following Lauer’s firing, NBCU’s legal team did an exhaustive investigation of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff,” the memo states. “They uncovered no claims or settlements associated with allegations of inappropriate conduct by Lauer before he was fired. Only following his termination did NBCU reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time, and those women have always been free to share their stories about Lauer with anyone they choose.”
The memo came the same day that Lauer released an open letter denying the allegations against him, writing that the sexual encounters described in Farrow's book were “completely consensual,” FOX News reported.
Farrow also wrote that Weinstein “made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it” in an effort to get NBC News to stop working on a story about his own sexual harassment allegations. Farrow had been working on the Weinstein story for NBC, which eventually declined to air it. The story was later published in The New Yorker instead.
Lack responded in the memo that NBC News “completely supported” Ronan’s reporting on the Weinstein story “over many months with resources — both financial and editorial,” THR reported.
However, Lack wrote that Farrow didn’t meet the network’s standards after seven months, with no victims or witnesses on the record, according to the report.
“Not wanting to accept that standard and not wanting to get beaten by The New York Times, he asked to take his story to an outlet he claimed was ready to publish right away,” the memo states. “Reluctantly, we allowed him to go ahead. Fifty-three days later, and five days after The New York Times did indeed break the story, he published an article at The New Yorker that bore little resemblance to the reporting he had while at NBC News.”
A representative for Farrow disagreed with the memo, calling statements by NBC senior management “simply not true,” according to THR.
“In fact, relevant sections of the book confirm not only how many women were named, but also how much proof Ronan had gathered,” the rep said. “Importantly, it documents the lengths to which NBC executives went to thwart the reporting efforts of Ronan and his producer Rich McHugh and why they did so.”