Harvey Weinstein threatened to expose Matt Lauer in 2017 if NBC didn't kill misconduct story: Ronan Farrow

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Ronan Farrow was a guest on Katie Couric's podcast to promote his new book Catch and Kill where he further discussed the troubling workplace culture at NBC and the outside forces that apparently influenced the news organization. On Next Question with Katie Couric, Farrow explained how he started working on his exposé about Harvey Weinstein for NBC News but was "ordered to stop under suspicious circumstances." (He eventually published his Pulitzer Prize-winning article in the New Yorker.) Couric, who spent nearly two decades at the network where she worked alongside Matt Lauer, didn't share any personal stories of her time at NBC and stuck to asking questions.

"Let’s talk about the relationship, the connection between Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer," Couric said. "Explain the evidence you have that Harvey Weinstein was working with the tabloids, specifically the National Enquirer, to exert pressure on NBC not to go with this story about him. What was he using as leverage and what evidence do you have of that?"

"It is indisputable that Harvey Weinstein had a deal with the National Enquirer," Farrow replied, citing his previous reporting. "That [Harvey] was huddled with Dylan Howard, the top editor at the National Enquirer, and Dylan Howard was being used as an attack mechanism and secretly recording people on Harvey Weinstein's behalf and running items on Harvey Weinstein's behalf. It's also indisputable that those items included an escalating chain of stories about Matt Lauer."

The stories American Media Inc. (AMI) had gathered about Lauer were allegedly about the broadcaster's affairs and misconduct in the office.

"Items about things like 'NBC executives getting fed up with [Matt's] misconduct around the workplace,'" Farrow said, explaining Lauer's behavior was "an area of focus for [AMI]."

"We also uncover in the reporting in this book that the National Enquirer was among the first to obtain the resume of Brooke Nevils, the woman who ultimately got Matt Lauer fired," Farrow added. "They had pursued Matt Lauer's accusers for years."

As Farrow was working on his Weinstein story in 2017, he alleges Howard simultaneously pulled out their Lauer "kill file" and threatened NBC with releasing damaging stories about the network and their morning star.

The "kill file" consists of "stories that they've gotten rid of about Matt Lauer," Farrow clarified. He said Howard "begins besieging NBC and his reporters begin besieging NBC with calls about Matt Lauer. "

"A threat was explicitly delivered here," Farrow declared. (NBC has denied any such threat was delivered.) "There is an indisputable juxtaposition of a situation where Harvey Weinstein was laying siege to [NBC] and this organization's secrets were very much under threat of exposure."

Couric asked how the threat was explicitly delivered to NBC.

"I'll leave it at the exact, precise reporting in the book," Farrow replied. "But there are multiple sources at both at NBC and at AMI who say that that's the case."

Howard, who is Australian, has called the claims defamatory and is attempting (somewhat successfully) to keep the book out of stores in Australia. He is now a top executive with AMI.

In the book, Farrow also details AMI and Howard's close relationship with President Trump and how the company used the "catch and kill" method to protect him during his run for president. The company apparently tried to help Trump bury allegations he raped a teenager in 1994, an accusation the president has called "categorically untrue." According to Newsweek, Farrow alleges Howard assured Trump's then-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, "that they would track down the woman with the rape allegation and see what they could do about her." (An AMI spokesperson said Tuesday that Farrow's claims are "completely untrue.")

Farrow's Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators is out now.

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