While many of the headlines from Ronan Farrow’s bombshell book relate to the shocking allegation of rape against Matt Lauer, the NBC News division is in chaos with its leadership Andy Lack and Noah Oppenheim “quivering in their suits,” according to multiple insiders.
The book “Catch and Kill” details how NBC decided to kill the Harvey Weinstein exposé after the movie mogul effectively “laid siege” to NBC News chairman Lack and NBC News president Oppenheim during Farrow’s investigation. Farrow reports that in a September 2017 phone call, Lack told Weinstein’s attorney, “We’ve told Harvey we are not doing a story.”
The following month Oppenheim pressured Farrow to sign a “compromise statement that conceded the story … failed to meet the network’s standards” to contradict his claim that NBC News killed his Weinstein story, then tried to cover it up. Oppenheim disputes this account and insists when Farrow brought the story to the network he had nobody on the record and it was not ready for air. Farrow’s book also claims that NBC News brass knew about Lauer’s behavior long before he was fired and took no action.
One NBC insider told Page Six, “Either Lack or Oppenheim are going to have to take the fall for this — or both of them. Oppenheim may have been trying to protect his Hollywood interests, while Lack maintained a cordial relationship with Weinstein.”
Farrow also reveals details about Lack’s history of office affairs prior to his NBC job. A second insider added, “Lack has presided over NBC’s decision not to run two of the biggest news stories of the decade — the Trump/Billy Bush tape and the Harvey Weinstein exposé … How much longer can he hold on?”
We’re told this has been incredibly demoralizing for the staff — and that Wednesday, as the allegations from Ronan’s book dropped, was incredibly chaotic at 30 Rock.
Yet another insider said, “It is bad — there’s a lot of people that are upset that they work at NBC, there’s a bewilderment that we are still hearing from NBC executives that Ronan didn’t have the Weinstein story.
“There were a number of relationships at the top of NBC News that were cozy with Weinstein, and nobody has been fired because this goes all the way to the top. But this has to stop, somebody has to go because Comcast has a duty to its shareholders.”
Other sources pointed out that broadcast rivals CBS and ABC both reported that the book claims senior staff at NBC had been told about Lauer’s alleged behavior at Sochi, but that NBC left that part out of its coverage. “They totally white-washed how they handled it this morning,” an NBC insider told us.
“CBS This Morning” led their report by saying the book “reveals a rape allegation … and a claim it was ignored” by network brass and said Farrow’s work “accused executives of not taking action.” It went on to say that Lauer’s accuser Brooke Nevils — a former NBC producer — “told colleagues and superiors about the encounters” and that “after Lauer was fired, she learned that NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and chairman Andrew Lack were quote ‘emphasizing that the incident had ‘not been criminal’ or an ‘assault.’’’
ABC’s “Good Morning America,” meanwhile, reported that “after the encounter … Farrow says [Nevils] told colleagues and superiors at NBC but nothing happened” until she went to [her boss, NBC anchor] Meredith Viera.
NBC’s “Today” show, meanwhile, reported only that Nevils “eventually told Viera in 2017, several years after the Games” and that “Viera urged her to go to NBC Universal’s human resources department with a lawyer, which she did. The day after that meeting, Lauer was terminated by NBC for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
“They’re trying to re-write history as if NBC brass didn’t have some responsibility here,” said an industry insider, “For a news organization that’s supposed to stand for truth and transparency, that’s a pretty glaring omission.”
But an NBC insider pointed to the fact that an investigation into the Lauer scandal concluded, “We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or ‘Today’ show leadership, News HR or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to November 27, 2017.”
Lack issued a statement stating that: “Our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality. There can be no exception.” Lauer also issued a statement, denying all alleged wrongdoing.
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