NBC News insisted last year that the Comcast Corp.-owned network did all it could to help Ronan Farrow's investigation into Harvey Weinstein's rumored sexual assaults on Hollywood starlets over decades, but that Farrow didn't have the story nailed down before he took it to the New Yorker magazine — launching the #MeToo movement.
Now, ex-NBC producer Rich McHugh, who worked with Farrow on the Weinstein expose, has broken his silence.
McHugh claimed in a New York Times article on Friday that NBC effectively killed the Weinstein story by being "resistant" to the reporting on the powerful movie mogul, with the network even canceling a planned trip by Farrow and McHugh to travel to Los Angeles to interview a woman with a rape allegation.
McHugh recently left NBC to do a documentary on climate change. He called NBC News' actions on the Weinstein story "a massive breach of journalistic integrity."
NBC News responded to McHugh's claims on Friday by calling them an "outright lie."
"In August of 2017, after NBC News assigned Ronan Farrow to investigate Weinstein and supported his reporting efforts for eight months, Farrow believed his reporting was ready for air. NBC disagreed because, unfortunately, he did not yet have a single victim of — or witness to — misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified," an NBC News spokesperson said.
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told the Los Angeles Times that he had no regrets about not airing the story in its then-current form and agreeing with Farrow's request in August 2017 to take it to another media organization — ultimately the New Yorker.
"Any responsible media organization would have concluded what we did, which was that it was not yet ready for air," Oppenheim told the Los Angeles Times.
Farrow's New Yorker story, published last October, identified Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Lucia Evans, Emma de Caunes, Jessica Barth, and Sophie Dix as alleged Weinstein victims. But NBC News noted that "not one of these seven women was included in the reporting Farrow presented while at NBC News" in August. An NBC News spokesperson also noted that Oppenheim was the one who said that Farrow should look into Weinstein in 2016, further indication that Oppenheim supported the expose.
The controversy is not likely to fade for NBC News, which has faced a barrage of scandals in recent years. These include NBC News' failure to air the Access Hollywood tapes featuring then-candidate Donald Trump talking about groping women, and the firing and subsequent NBC investigation into Today anchor Matt Lauer's inappropriate sexual behavior.