The president of NBC News is not here for Ronan Farrow’s alleged second-rate conspiracy theories about the network’s news division.
As we reported, the Pulitzer Prize winner accused the company of covering up sexual misconduct allegations made against disgraced anchor Matt Lauer for years, calling NBC News a “company with a lot of secrets” in his new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.
Now, a week after the explosive allegations were made, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim has penned a memo in defense of the company — and he insists Ronan’s claims fall apart under the slightest bit of scrutiny.
In the memo, the division’s president insisted to staffers at NBC News and MSNBC the company has “no secrets and nothing to hide” concerning the rape and sexual misconduct allegations against the former Today show host.
Blasting Lauer’s alleged actions as “abhorrent,” he wrote:
“Matt Lauer’s actions were abhorrent, and the anger and sadness he caused continue to this day. As we’ve said since the moment he was fired, his abuses should never have happened. Ronan Farrow’s book takes that undeniable fact and twists it into a lie — alleging we were a ‘company with a lot of secrets.’”
During an appearance on GMA last Friday to promote his book, the 31-year-old reporter defended his investigation into NBC News, claiming network higher-ups were privy to the reports of Lauer’s alleged misconduct, and there “was a chain of secret settlements” the company “covered up” long before the news of the allegations broke.
The memo argued that this allegation, which the NBC boss claimed was made without any evidence to back it up, was categorically false — and therefore discredits Farrow’s additional claims about the company.
“Now that we’ve read Farrow’s book, it’s clear — his smear rests on the allegation that NBC’s management knew about and took steps to hide Matt Lauer’s misconduct before his firing in November of 2017. Without that, he has no basis on which to rest his second conspiracy theory — that his Harvey Weinstein reporting was squashed to protect Lauer.”
This “second conspiracy theory” is a reference to Farrow’s claim that NBC News killed his 2017 article about Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct because the disgraced producer threatened the network with a report of Lauer’s alleged misdeeds.
The memo added:
“Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior to November of 2017 and were paid settlements to silence them. Not only is this false, the so-called evidence Farrow uses in his book to support the charge collapses under the slightest scrutiny.”
Oppenheim went on to dissect three accounts Farrow highlighted in his book, insisting there is “no evidence of any reports of Lauer’s misconduct before his firing.” He explained:
“I feel absolutely terrible that these three employees were subjected to Matt Lauer’s horrific behavior, but the facts do not support Farrow’s allegation of a ‘cover-up,’ and he offers no further evidence… In fact, [Kim] Harris and the Legal team have determined that nothing in the book undermines any of the conclusions of the May 2018 investigation conducted by NBCUniversal in the wake of Lauer’s firing. There is no evidence of any reports of Lauer’s misconduct before his firing, no settlements, no ‘hush money’ — no way we have found that NBC’s current leadership could have been aware of his misdeeds in the past.”
Oppenheim admitted “we can all agree those misdeeds should have come to light sooner and that we should have had a culture in which anyone who knew about his abuse would have felt comfortable telling management,” but said he believes “we cannot undo mistakes that may have been made by people who have long since left the company.”
He did, however, highlight how far NBC News has come in its efforts to improve the company’s culture since Lauer’s ousting, adding:
“We can make sure the culture today ensures this can never happen again. And that is what we have tried to do, each and every day since the moment Matt’s offenses first came to light. Our senior leadership is now 63 percent women, a 20 percent improvement in the last two years. Almost every significant senior editorial role is now held by a woman. We have instituted in-person training for all employees (2,135 of you participated), developed a new training course for managers focused on trust (562 of you have completed it), significantly raised awareness of the multiple ways to lodge complaints, built a new team within NBCUniversal (outside of NBC News) to take and investigate concerns, and worked hard to create an environment that is safe and respectful in every way.”
The exec went on to blast Farrow’s allegedly false reporting, continuing:
“Farrow takes the first false allegation — that we knew about Lauer’s offenses — and uses it to sustain another: that we obstructed his reporting on Harvey Weinstein. Attached is the detailed accounting of that reporting, which we released in September 2018. Once, again, we stand by every word of it.”
Going on to allege there were many “CLAIM” versus “FACT” examples in Ronan’s book regarding the Weinstein case, Oppenheim continued:
“In the meantime, Farrow’s effort to defame NBC News is clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind. It is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines, and outright inaccuracies.”
Hmm… whose story do YOU buy, Perezcious readers? The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, or the mostly respected news organization?
The evidence does seem to side with NBC News, but perhaps Ronan has something else up his sleeve.
[Image via WENN]