In his soon-to-be-released book “Catch and Kill,” journalist Ronan Farrow claims that Harvey Weinstein used allegations against Matt Lauer as leverage to suppress stories about himself, by making it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s alleged behavior and capable of revealing it.
One of the stories NBC allegedly suppressed was Farrow’s own Weinstein expose. Farrow eventually took the story to The New Yorker.
In a memo to employees, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack defended the network’s handling of the Weinstein story, saying Farrow “simply didn’t have a story that met our standard for broadcast.”
“Catch and Kill” also reveals new allegations against Lauer, who previously worked as an NBC News anchor. Almost two years after he was fired from the network, Lauer broke his silence Wednesday to respond to Farrow’s allegations.
In a fiery public letter, Lauer stated that his silence has been a mistake, writing, “For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations.” Lauer directed most of his sharp denials toward Brooke Nevils, who told Farrow in “Catch and Kill” that Lauer raped her in his hotel room during the Sochi Olympics in 2014. “There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter…” Lauer wrote. “She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent.” Lauer also called her allegation “categorically false,” and said the relationship was “completely consensual.”
In a statement to NBC News on Wednesday, Nevils called Lauer’s open letter an attempt to bully a former colleague into silence. “I am not afraid of him now, regardless of his threats … and the shaming and predatory tactics,” she said.
Nevils also broke her silence on Twitter Wednesday, writing that she wanted to “thank the many survivors who shared their stories” with her and “offered their support.”
In “Catch and Kill,” Farrow also writes that he uncovered seven allegations of workplace sexual misconduct against Lauer that pre-dated his November 2017 firing. In his memo to employees, Lack said any suggestion that executives knew of allegations against Lauer before his firing are “absolutely false and offensive.”
“The NBC News bosses … tend to be very supportive of their executives…” said Stephen Battaglio, a media reporter for the Los Angeles Times. “Unless there is flagrant wrongdoing, I doubt that we are going to see any type of executive changes because of this.”
In a statement, NBC called Lauer’s conduct “appalling, horrific and reprehensible,” adding he was “fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint” from Nevils.