NBC News honcho now leading man in Lauer scandal over Hollywood ties
While Matt Lauer is a household name, there's a lesser-known name emerging in the salacious sex saga rocking America's favorite breakfast show. Noah Oppenheim is on his second tour at the beloved "Today" show and his role in the scandal may leave Peacock Network execs tarred and feathered.
The 41-year-old Oppenheim is a key figure in the highly-anticipated Ronan Farrow expose due out next week called "Catch and Kill."
The Harvard grad began his career in the NBC family as a producer on MSNBC's "Hardball" and "Scarborough Country" in Secaucus, New Jersey. But soon enough, the young gun was called up to the big leagues and brought across the river to 30 Rockefeller Plaza where he quickly climbed his way up the ladder to senior producer at "Today," mirroring the ascent of fellow Harvard grad Jeff Zucker, the current president of CNN.
But it wasn't long before Oppenheim got the Hollywood itch and headed to Los Angeles where he led a string of successful television and film projects, including writing the critically-acclaimed "Jackie," starring Natalie Portman.
Oppenheim was wooed back to "Today" in 2015, and in 2017 he was tapped NBC News president by Andy Lack following the unceremonious ousting of Deborah Turness. Turness was sent packing back to London despite shepherding the news division through the brutal career tailspin of anchor Brian Williams, who earned the nickname Lyin' Brian for his tall tales from the battlefield.
And that's where the potential problem begins for Comcast, the parent company of NBC News and NBC Universal.
Farrow alleges Oppenheim had a serious conflict of interest between his main career in news and his side career in Hollywood screenwriting. Farrow claims this conflict of interest may have influenced Oppenheim's decision not to air his story about the rape and sexual assault allegations made against Hollywood honcho Harvey Weinstein. At the time, Farrow was a reporter at NBC News.
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Farrow's story was subsequently published by The New Yorker and he won a Pulitzer Prize for the reporting. But Oppenheim maintains Farrow's story was not ready to be published, as it was not up to NBC News standards.
"We repeatedly made clear to Ronan [Farrow] and Rich McHugh the standard for publication is we needed at least one credible on-the-record victim or witness of misconduct. And we never met that threshold while Ronan was reporting for us.”
NBC sources told Fox News on Thursday that Oppenheim found himself under fire with "Today" staffers, who are now demanding answers as explosive new details emerge about Lauer's lewd tenure at 30 Rock and an alleged coverup.
“They’re throwing each other under the bus,” another insider told Fox News. “It’s hilarious.”
“Noah sat there and lied to our faces again. He wants credit for taking our questions but is still dodging. I feel like he’s gaslighting us.”
And apparently nowhere to be found Thursday was Lack, no stranger to sexual harassment himself. According to Farrow's new book, when Lack was an executive producer at CBS News, he had an “almost unrelenting” pursuit of correspondent Jayne Wallace. Eventually, she succumbed to Lack’s “charms” and Wallace says the sexual relationship was “ultimately consensual, but I didn’t just get flirted with. I got worked over.”
Oppenheim could be yet another messy connection for star anchor Savannah Guthrie, who apologized for Lauer's behavior again on Wednesday in a tear-filled segment.
Guthrie has penned a children's book with Oppenheim's wife, Allison, called "Princesses Wear Pants" that's been heavily promoted on the show.
NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Fox News' media reporter Brian Flood contributed to this story.