Matt Lauer has penned a lengthy op-ed, venting his thoughts about Ronan Farrow’s reporting and, once again, denying that he raped Brooke Nevils, the former NBC employee who said she was raped by Lauer in Farrow’s best-selling book, “Catch and Kill.”
Writing a piece for Mediaite, in which Lauer goes into meticulous detail, fact-checking Farrow’s book himself, the former “Today” show host says Farrow was “hardly an unbiased journalist” whenever he reported on NBC, calling his stories “salacious” and accusing him of using his reporting to promote his book, which went on to become a New York Times best-seller.
“What I found when I read the book was frankly shocking, and it should concern anyone who cares about journalism. This is not just about accusations against the former host of the ‘Today’ show,” Lauer writes. “It’s about whether changing social attitudes can be allowed to change the most fundamental rules of journalism. It’s about whether, as journalists, we have a responsibility to check facts and vet sources. It’s about understanding the difference between journalism and activism. It is about whether we are putting far too much trust in journalists whose publicly stated opinions impact their ability to remain objective.”
Aside from scrutinizing Farrow’s reporting, Lauer took the opportunity to deny the rape allegation made by Nevils, who first came forward in Farrow’s book. It was Nevils’ complaint that lead to Lauer’s swift firing in 2017, which was followed by Variety‘s exclusive report, detailing numerous accusations of sexual harassment made by multiple women.
Lauer says Nevils’ allegation was part of a “promotional rollout” for Farrow’s book, which was “outrageously…used to sell books.” He says Nevils never used the word “assault” or “rape” when she made her complaint to human resources and that NBC never informed him of those specific accusations. Lauer says he was “shaken” by the media’s response to Nevils’ allegations, writing, “The rush to judgement was swift,” noting that some journalists were calling Nevils “brave” and “courageous” before doing their own reporting on her claims.
NBC declined to comment on Lauer’s op-ed. Representatives for Nevils did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment, although, without mentioning Lauer by name, Nevils took to Twitter and posted, “DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.”
Farrow responded to Lauer’s piece on Twitter, writing, “All I’ll say on this is that Matt Later is just wrong.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist added that his book was “thoroughly reported and fact-checked,” noting that he fact-checked the book with Lauer.
A spokesperson from the publishing company behind Farrow’s book tells Variety: “Little, Brown and Company fully supports Ronan Farrow and his reporting in ‘Catch and Kill.’ Ronan’s dedication to a deep and thorough fact-check of his reporting, his commitment to the rights of victims, and his impeccable attention to detail and nuance make us proud to be his publisher.”
Lauer has always denied any accusations of harassment, instead admitting to a consensual relationship in the workplace. More than two years after Variety‘s report and his termination from NBC, the former TV anchor is sticking to his story. “I was fired from my job at the ‘Today’ show after admitting to having a consensual, yet inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee in the workplace,” Lauer writes. “I am sorry for the way I conducted myself. I made some terrible decisions, and I betrayed the trust of many people.”
Lauer’s op-ed was published the day after the New York Times published a piece questioning the accuracy of Farrow’s reporting, titled “Is Ronan Farrow Too Good To Be True?” authored by media columnist Ben Smith, formerly editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed. Echoing the NYT’s headline, Lauer’s piece is titled “Why Ronan Farrow Is Indeed Too Good to Be True,” and in his piece, Lauer appears to draw parallels between Smith’s column in an effort to back up his own claims about Farrow. (Smith declined to comment on Lauer’s op-ed when contacted by Variety.)
Lauer says he was considering publishing his thoughts back in November 2019, but never did. He says the New York Times piece “prompted me to move forward with my own findings.”
It was impossible for Farrow to be unbiased when covering NBC, according to Lauer, because of his own feelings toward the company, which canceled his MSNBC show. Lauer notes Farrow’s repeated stance that NBC News quashed his Harvey Weinstein reporting (which NBC has repeatedly denied), and proposes that Farrow cultivated many sources who also had ill feelings toward NBC or were fired by the company. Lauer states that Farrow did not hold up journalistic standards because of his personal activism.
The former “Today” show host lays out numerous examples, citing specific page numbers from “Catch and Kill” where, Lauer writes, Farrow “betrayed the truth in writing his book.” Farrow did not reach out to numerous people referenced in his book, Lauer claims, adding that he reached out to those individuals himself who verified that Farrow never contacted them.
Lauer calls out Farrow for offering “zero proof” of text messages and emails between him and Nevils, and calls Farrow “manipulative” for playing word games, such as leading readers to believe that there were seven allegations of sexual misconduct raised by women. “There were not,” Lauer writes. Aside from denying the claims made by Nevils, Lauer brings up the story told by former “Today” production assistant Addie Zinone, who shared her account of a consensual relationship with Lauer, and also attacks former “Today” show booker Melissa Lonner, who claimed in Farrow’s book that Lauer exposed himself to her in his office.
Lauer says Lonner was simply a disgruntled employee who was fired, did not leave the company on good terms and held a grudge against him and NBC. Lauer notes that Lonner is a good friend of Lauer’s former co-host Ann Curry, and suggests she and Curry have remained bitter, due to Curry’s 2012 departure from the morning show, in which Lauer says he played no role. (“They both blamed me, and they did little to hide their feelings,” Lauer writes.)
Mediaite, the outlet that published Lauer’s piece, is owned by Dan Abrams, who was formerly employed by NBC News, and now is a prominent journalist at ABC News, which has frequently invited Farrow onto their broadcasts to discuss his reporting.