Allahpundit hit on much of this yesterday based on a CNN story and also Ronan Farrow’s interviews on the topic with Rachel Maddow and Jake Tapper. However, in those interviews, Farrow was a bit hesitant to go into the timeline of what he had and exactly when he had it, making it hard to judge just how badly NBC bungled this story. Last night the Huffington Post published a more detailed account of what Farrow had and how NBC responded. The story makes it clear NBC simply did not want this story on their network no matter what Farrow brought them:
By April, NBC News had two big scoops in its pocket: an on-record interview with [actress Rose] McGowan and the explosive audio of Weinstein admitting to sexual assault. But Farrow was told by multiple NBC News executives and producers that the reporting and interviews he had conducted weren’t sufficient for a televised story. According to four sources, Farrow and McHugh also prepared a lengthy text story to run on the NBC News website, but Farrow was told it wouldn’t run.
By July, Farrow was ready with a bombshell story about Weinstein that included on-camera interviews with accusers and interviews with four female and male former Miramax and Weinstein Co. executives.
Under legal pressure from Weinstein, Rose McGowan, who has signed a settlement with him in the 1990s, reluctantly decided NBC could not use her interview. But Farrow caught another big break in August. Another woman came forward who was willing to go on camera and accuse Weinstein of rape, albeit with her identity concealed. NBC tried to kill the interview before it happened:
In mid-August, Ronan Farrow, an NBC News contributor, had secured an interview with a woman who was willing to appear on camera, in silhouette, her identity concealed, and say Harvey Weinstein had raped her, according to four people with close knowledge of the reporting…
But at that moment Farrow was also caught in the pincers of an NBC News edict. He had been told by executives at NBC News that he didn’t have enough reporting to go on air with his Weinstein story, according to four sources, and he had been told by the network to stop reporting on it. NBC tried to put a stop to the interview with the woman accusing Weinstein of rape. The network insisted he not use an NBC News crew for the interview, and neither was he to mention his NBC News affiliation. And so that was how Ronan Farrow wound up paying out of his own pocket for a camera crew to film an interview.
It wasn’t until late August that NBC, having refused to run the story on air or online and ordered Farrow to drop it, that the network gave him permission to take it somewhere else.
The overall impression you get is that NBC, which was also hearing from Weinstein’s lawyers, delayed this and then tried to bury it despite having plenty of material that could have run as individual news stories. Just the NYPD tape of Weinstein was a solid stand-alone story, but NBC balked. At one point Farrow interviewed Ken Auletta, a media reporter who had tried to put together his own story on Weinstein. After reviewing what Farrow had put together he said on camera, “If NBC News sits on this evidence Ronan has, it is a black eye for the organization and a huge scandal.”
And that’s the bottom line. NBC News’ President has already proclaimed his network’s innocence saying, “we encouraged him to report that story.” To be fair, they do seem to have encouraged him at some point, but ultimately they wound up sitting on scoops, refusing to air or publish credible allegations, cutting off funds and demanding he stop investigating. Whatever credit they deserve for getting him going they used all of it up when they tried to shut him down.
And as HuffPost reporter Yasher Ali pointed out last week, even after the NY Times broke its story on Weinstein last Thursday, NBC was the one network that failed to cover it on its evening news broadcast:
Both CBS and ABC covered the story during their evening news broadcasts. But “NBC Nightly News” conspicuously did not give time to the story about a powerful media and political figure ― a story that had dominated social media throughout the day and was based on a New York Times report that clocked in at nearly 4,000 words.
The next day both CBS and ABC ran segments on their morning news programs while NBC devoted one minute to the story:
“Today” on NBC did cover the Weinstein story, but not in its own reported segment. NBC News anchor Craig Melvin, who was filling in for Matt Lauer, read a story that ran just under a minute and was dominated by Weinstein’s pushback against the accusations. It mentioned that unnamed sources said Weinstein had reached settlements with eight different women, but didn’t feature any of the specific accusations made in the Times article.
So to sum all of this up, NBC News sat on this story, refused to run it on air or online, told the reporter to stop working on it, cut off his funding and barely reported it even after it broke at another outlet. That certainly sounds like a black eye for the network.