Ronan Farrow — who famously left NBC News after the network refused to publish what would eventually be his award-winning exposé on sexual assault allegations against mega-producer and Democratic mega-donor Harvey Weinstein — has leveled new accusations of an extensive “cover-up” by the news giant involving Weinstein, former NBC host Matt Lauer and the publisher of National Enquirer.
The Hollywood Reporter, which was given a chance to review Farrow’s new book detailing the accusations, highlights some of the journalist’s new claims, including “secret payouts” to accusers and the potential role Lauer may have played in NBC’s decision to squash Farrow’s Weinstein report.
Farrow claims in “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” (available October 15) that in September 2017, Weinstein met with Dylan Howard, chief content officer of American Media Inc, the publisher of national Enquirer, at New York’s Loews Regency hotel.
Having become “increasingly alarmed” about reports of Farrow’s developing exposé, Weinstein, who had “worked to suppress variations of that story for decades,” was huddling with Howard to find some sort of “leverage” to help him “bully NBC News into killing the story,” THR reports.
That “leverage” came in the form of “several thick manila envelopes” allegedly presented by Howard to Weinstein involving Lauer.
“Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it,” Farrow alleges.
“Citing anonymous sources at NBC and AMI, Farrow, 31, claims that Weinstein was using the Enquirer‘s accumulated dirt on the Today show star’s alleged workplace misconduct to pressure NBC executives to kill Farrow’s long-gestating Weinstein exposé,” THR explains.
NBC has vehemently denied the accusation to both Farrow and THR.
“NBC News was never contacted by AMI, or made aware in any way of any threats from them, or from anyone else, for that matter,” a network spokesperson told THR. “And the idea of NBC News taking a threat seriously from a tabloid company about Matt Lauer is especially preposterous, since they already covered him with great regularity.”
But Farrow stands by his claims, insisting that his book has been rigorously fact-checked and that he interviewed more than 200 sources and reviewed “hundreds of pages of previously undisclosed contracts, emails and text messages,” THR notes.
The book also claims that Weinstein had such frequent contact with NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and MSNBC President Phil Griffin that his assistants referred to them as “the triumvirate.”
The most explosive claims in the book, THR underscores, are “seven allegations of workplace sexual misconduct by Lauer that seem to contradict the network’s stance that management had no knowledge of his behavior as well as seven nondisclosure agreements — many with hush-money payouts — to accusers of Lauer and others at NBC.”