The producer who worked with Ronan Farrow on his blockbuster reporting into the alleged sexual misconduct of Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein told the New York Times that NBC News actively sidelined the story, prompting Farrow to take it to the New Yorker last year to get it published. Producer Rich McHugh, who recently left NBC’s investigative unit, called the network’s handling of Farrow’s reporting, which originated at the network, “a massive breach of journalistic integrity.”
Farrow spent months reporting the story, in collaboration with McHugh, for NBC News, but reportedly met resistance within the network as he chased down reporting leads that would implicate the powerful entertainment industry rainmaker in multiple sexual assaults and rapes spanning decades. “Three days before Ronan and I were going to head to L.A. to interview a woman with a credible rape allegation against Harvey Weinstein, I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman,” McHugh told the Times. “And to stand down on the story altogether.” McHugh says the order to kill the story came from “the very highest levels of NBC,” leading to Farrow seeking permission to take months and months of reporting to the New Yorker. Nearly two months after doing so, the New Yorker published the first of series of stories on Weinstein that were ultimately awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
Around the time of publication, questions swirled about how NBC News let the story slip through its fingers and whether the network had caved to either explicit or implicit pressure to avoid exposing one of entertainment’s most powerful men. Farrow hinted as much during an MSNBC interview about the story with Rachel Maddow. “I think it’s fair to say that there was a point in our reporting where I felt there were obstacles to us reporting this externally, and there were obstacles to us reporting this internally,” McHugh said. “Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly. I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”
NBC News executives dispute McHugh’s characterization of how the story was handled, saying even after eight months of reporting, it didn’t have sufficient on-the-record testimony for broadcast. “He was never told to stop in the way he’s implying,” Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, told the Times.