In a tweet this morning, Trump said the news division “is now fumbling around making excuses for their probably highly unethical conduct” in handling the Weinstein story. He capped the message with the question, “Look at their license?” Although there wasn’t a specific reference to the FCC, the implication was plain. Trump was suggesting federal regulators review their sanctioning of a major network (or, more specifically, its owned-and-operated stations) because of his complaints about its news division. And once more the nation entered uncharted waters.
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NBC and former correspondent Ronan Farrow have been trading charges and counter-charges over the past 24 hours over the network’s handling of Farrow’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein. The New Yorker magazine wound up publishing a more complete version of what Farrow had undertaken for NBC, with his resulting series of articles earning Farrow a Pulitzer Prize and galvanizing the #MeToo movement.
Last week, Trump assailed NBC News from a different angle. He accused the network of “fudging” the Lester Holt interview that included his admission that he fired James Comey because the former FBI director was co-operating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. The acrimony with NBC has disrupted years of coziness between the then-candidate and his former Apprentice home. The mutually advantageous — if questionable — relationship even extended into the fall of 2015 when he hosted Saturday Night Live and got a hair-tousling by late-night host Jimmy Fallon.
The NBC-Farrow storm, meanwhile, showed no sign of letting up this morning. On Megyn Kelly’s NBC talk show, the network’s handling of the Weinstein story took center stage. Kelly said Weinstein victim Rose McGowan and former NBC producer Rich McHugh had told her that McGowan had gone on the record but NBC News opted not to run the story. That account and a similar one from Weinstein victim Emily Nestor clash with Lack’s memo, which asserted that no women had agreed to go on the record, leading NBC to cut ties with Farrow.
“Late last night,” Kelly said during the live show, the pair had affirmed to the show that “McGowan did go on the record with NBC in February 2017, after that on-camera interview with Farrow, and that she did name Harvey Weinstein as her rapist.”
After the comments during Kelly’s show and the Farrow-counter-attack, NBC issued a set of statements in response, sticking to its guns in terms of standards and legal czars deeming the summer 2017 version unfit for air. Nestor “at no time” indicated a willingness to be named, NBC said, while McGowan did not name her attacker when she initially made her claims.
An FCC spokesperson did not immediately respond to Deadline’s request for comment.
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