After weeks of Ronan Farrow’s new book making major headlines, with damning claims about NBC News’ handling of his Harvey Weinstein story and the Matt Lauer scandal, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow addressed Farrow’s reporting for the first time on her show Friday night — ahead of her interview with the “Catch and Kill” author.
Maddow opened with a lengthy monologue, giving an overview of Farrow’s reporting, including the resistance he faced from NBC News President Noah Oppenheim in his pursuit of the Weinstein story and the troubling sexual misconduct allegations against Lauer.
She first weighed in on Farrow’s claim that NBC buried his Weinstein story.
“NBC letting this story get away is, I guess the best way I can put it is: When you take NBC’s word for it, NBC letting that story get away is a shame,” Maddow told her viewers. “But in Ronan Farrow’s telling, it’s not a shame, it’s a scandal. NBC is saying essentially, ‘It’s too bad that story got away, we were hoping to get it to air once it was ready.’
“Ronan Farrow is saying, ‘No, you were stopping me from getting it to air and that’s why I had to leave.'”
Farrow later took his reporting to The New Yorker magazine, and his coverage of the Weinstein sexual misconduct case won a Pulitzer Prize.
Maddow then discussed the “consternation” that she said has plagued NBC in the aftermath of the controversies.
“But I’ll tell you, there has been consternation, even inside this building, inside MSNBC and NBC News, that that matter was handled with an internal investigation — with the company, in effect, investigating itself rather than hiring an external firm to do it.”
The liberal opinion host called the Weinstein and Lauer allegations “gut-wrenching,” but called Farrow’s claims that executives at her network were “complicit” in “shielding” the alleged predators from accountability “very, very hard to stomach.”
“And I can tell you that inside this building, this issue, the Weinstein story having to leave the building in order to get told and combine that with another previous gigantic story on a related subject, the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape-Billy Bush story also having to leave this building in order to get told,” Maddow continued. “The amount of consternation this has caused among the rank-and-file people who work here would be almost impossible for me to overstate. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs in this company since I’ve been here. It would be impossible for me to overstate the amount of consternation inside the building around this issue.”
Maddow reported that her team was able to confirm Farrow’s reporting on the resistance he faced at NBC, which Farrow later praised on social media.
“Credit where due: @maddow independently confirming my reporting that Weinstein story was halted by NBC execs and calling her bosses to account on their own air—not an easy thing, for her or her staff— did this,” Farrow wrote about his former colleague.
NBC News insiders previously told Fox News that they believe Maddow is the only person at the network who could ever get away with booking Farrow.
Maddow had Farrow on her show shortly after he broke his Weinstein story with The New Yorker in October 2017 and asked him directly why he didn’t break the story with NBC News.
“You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story,” Farrow responded at the time. “I’m not going to comment on any news organization’s story that they did or didn’t run. I will say that over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so. And there are now reports emerging publicly about the kinds of pressure that news organizations face in this. And that is real.”
However, Maddow wasn’t the first MSNBC host to address Farrow’s reporting. Earlier this month, “All In” host Chris Hayes called Farrow’s claims about his employer “distressing.”
“In Farrow’s view, he was unable to break through what was effectively a conspiracy of silence from NBC News management,” Hayes continued before reading NBC News’ denial. “One thing, though, is indisputable. Ronan Farrow walked out of NBC News after working on the Weinstein story, and within two months published an incredible article at The New Yorker that not only won a Pulitzer, but helped trigger a massive social and cultural reckoning that continues to this day.”
Hayes went on to praise Farrow’s work, saying it’s the “kind of journalism that you want to do as a journalist” and that everyone in the industry “should want to facilitate.”
“Of course, there’s a reason it took so long for the true story about Weinstein to be told, for the many allegations of him to stay locked in a vault,” Hayes said. “And that’s because time and again the path of least resistance for those in power was not to cross Weinstein or his army of friends and lawyers. Same goes for the many, many, many other powerful predators that we’ve come to know about.”
“The path of least resistance is always there. Beckoning seductively, with an entirely plausible cover story, you’ve got bigger fish to fry, this isn’t the hill to die on, the story isn’t ready. But, of course, it’s the very ease of that path that makes it the enemy to the kind of work we, as journalists, are supposed to do.”
NBCUniversal also announced Friday night that it will release alleged victims of sexual misconduct from non-disclosure agreements (NDA) upon request.
“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson said.
The announcement came just days after a group of high-powered women in media sent a harshly worded letter to Comcast’s board of directors demanding former employees be released from their NDAs, and launch an independent investigation into the alleged cover-up of the Harvey Weinstein and the Matt Lauer scandals.
Signing the letter addressed to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and the company’s board were Megyn Kelly, Addie Zinone, Linda Vester, Greta Van Susteren, Eleanor McManus and Gretchen Carlson.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.