On Thursday night, The New York Times and The Daily Beast published complementary accounts reporting that Rich McHugh, who until recently worked in the investigative reporting unit of NBC, maintains that senior executives tried to kill an investigation by former NBC reporter Ronan Farrow into multiple allegations of sexual harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. NBC disputes McHugh’s claims.
Farrow’s reporting was eventually published in The New Yorker, and played a pivotal role, along with earlier reporting in The New York Times, in Weinstein’s fall from grace. Farrow shared a Pulitzer prize for his Weinstein reporting.
“At a critical juncture in our reporting on Harvey Weinstein, as we were about to interview a woman with a credible allegation of rape against him, I was told not to do the interview and ordered to stand down, thus effectively killing the story,” McHugh alleges in a public statement. “Those orders came to me from the highest levels of NBC. That was unethical, and a massive breach of journalistic integrity.”
As The Daily Beast reports, “According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, NBC News general counsel Susan Weiner made a series of phone calls to Farrow, threatening to smear him if he continued to report on Weinstein.” A spokesperson for NBC News, speaking off the record, denied the allegations. “There’s no truth to that all,” The spokesperson told NBC News. “There is no chance, in no version of the world, that Susan Weiner would tell Ronan Farrow what he could or could not report on.”
McHugh claims Weinstein associates put pressure on the network. “Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly,” he told The New York Times. “I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”