New allegations leveled against NBC News and its former anchor Matt Lauer have been met with multiple vehement denials and one particularly harsh rebuke.
On Wednesday, multiple reports based on previews of former NBC reporter Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” (available October 15), detailed explosive claims about Lauer and the network, which Farrow says protected the “Today” anchor amid alleged sexual misconduct.
Among the claims leveled by Farrow — who left NBC after the network refused to run his bombshell Harvey Weinstein exposé — is that the network was cowed by Weinstein and quashed Farrow’s story after the mega-producer “made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it.”
Farrow’s book also lays out new allegations against Lauer, including from former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils. Variety, one of the outlets which obtained an advance copy of the book, reports:
In Sochi, Nevils was tasked with working with former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who’d been brought back to the show to do Olympics coverage. In Nevils’ account, one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who’d had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer’s hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils, Farrow writes, “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.”
Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, Lauer — who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers — pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, “flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,” Farrow writes. “She said that she declined several times.”
According to Nevils, she “was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he ‘just did it,’” Farrow writes. “Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. ‘It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?’ She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow.” Lauer then asked her if she liked it. She tells him yes.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” Nevils told Farrow. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
In response, Lauer released a statement denouncing Nevils’ claims as “categorically false.”
“In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault,” he said. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.”
NBC News, which fired Lauer in November 2017 shortly after initial allegations against him hit the papers, made clear that it does not stand behind its former anchor.
“Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time,” NBC News said in a statement reported by Variety. “That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
While the network is not pushing back on the book’s claims about Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct, it is adamantly refuting Farrow’s claims that the network caved to Weinstein’s pressure, which Farrow says was aided by American Media Inc (AMI), the publisher of Enquirer, digging up “dirt” on Lauer.
“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,” The Hollywood Reporter explained in its own “Catch and Kill”-based report Wednesday.
But NBC says that’s “preposterous.”
“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 the outlet. “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.”