UPDATE with Ronan Farrow’s response: The New Yorker article written by Ronan Farrow about Harvey Weinstein is not the article Farrow brought to NBC News several months ago, NBC News Chief Noah Oppenheim told staff today in no uncertain terms.
“The incredible story that we all read yesterday was not the story that we were looking at when we made our judgment several months ago,” Oppenheim said of NBC News’ decision to let Farrow shop his work elsewhere.
Horseradish, said CNN’s Jake Tapper, who had Farrow on his program a few hours later.
Tapper reported he had learned the investigative report, while at NBC, included Farrow’s interviews with the three named women, the full NYPD audio of the sting operation, and every one of the quoted Weinstein Company execs and employees, former and current.
Farrow declined to jump in, other than to take issue with NBC saying “it was an assignment,” rather than something he had brought to them. “The media piece of this is a conversation that can unfold over time,” Farrow told Tapper, adding. “”I truly do think it’s important to stay focused on the women.”
NBC has been raising eyebrows for days over its Weinstein coverage – or lack thereof. The day the New York Times published its blockbuster report, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight covered; NBC Nightly News did not. Megyn Kelly landed an exclusive interview with a former Fox News reporter who claims Weinstein pinned her in a restaurant hallway and made her watch him masturbate into a potted plant, on her 9 AM NBC program. But, Saturday Night Live noticeably did not do a segment on the Weinstein scandal as the story was exploding in the media landscape. Then Farrow’s needle-moving piece was launched – but not on NBC News.
Hours after New Yorker published his piece, Farrow told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she would have to ask NBC News why the report did not break on NBC, where he originally worked on it. In case she missed his point, he later said, “There were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
At today’s previously scheduled staff meeting, Oppenhiem took a moment to address what he called “ the noise that has been circulating regarding” Farrow’s piece, without saying some of the noise came from the general direction of Farrow. But, Oppenheim said, like he meant it to sting, “The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us.”
And Oppenheim made a point of reminding staff that NBC News had bankrolled much of Farrow’s work on the piece, something of which, Oppenhein said, the company is “proud.”
“We launched him on that story, we encouraged him to report that story. We supported him and gave him resources to report that story over many, many months,” Oppenheim boasted.
“We reached a point over the summer where, as an organization, we didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it,” Oppenheim said. “Ronan very understandably wanted to keep forging ahead. … We didn’t want to stand in his way, and he took it to The New Yorker and did a ton more extraordinary work. He greatly expanded the scope of his reporting.”
In conclusion, Oppenheim told staff, “we should all be proud of being an organization that is at least in the hunt on these things.”