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Does NBC have a Harvey Weinstein protection problem?
As you may or may not remember, Ronan Farrow used to be an MSNBC anchor. His show got the axe, but he still has a non-exclusive deal with NBC News. What you might not have known, until yesterday at least, is that Farrow intended to run his explosive story of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct at NBC. The network, for reasons that remain nebulous, refused to air it.
They spiked the story, which eventually ran on The New Yorker's website.
From the Huffington Post:
Ronan Farrow’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s long history of alleged sexual misconduct was in NBC’s hands as recently as August, according to multiple sources both inside and outside the network. By then, Farrow, an NBC contributor and investigative reporter, had already obtained damning audio of an encounter Weinstein had with a woman, in which Weinstein admits to having groped her, sources told HuffPost.
Instead, Farrow’s story — and the audio, from a 2015 New York Police Department sting — appeared Tuesday on the website of The New Yorker. Sources told HuffPost that NBC had concerns related to the story’s sourcing and cleared Farrow to take it to The New Yorker.
So far, no one will say what those "concerns" were. However, Rachel Maddow did interview Farrow and asked him why NBC killed the story. He rejected the idea that the story "wasn't ready to go" and alluded to the idea that NBC may have caved to pressure from the accused.
As Farrow put it...
“In the course of this reporting, I was threatened with a lawsuit personally by Mr. Weinstein. And we’ve already seen that the Times has been publicly threatened with a suit. I don’t want to describe any suits levelled at other organizations that I work with, but, you know, certainly this is a considerable amount of pressure that outlets get as well.”
“I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should’ve been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that - and it is not accurate that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
Taken on its own, you'd probably just assume that this was a bad decision on the part of NBC News, or that Farrow's story wasn't in good enough shape to run. The problem is, you can't take this on its own, because this is the second time we've heard of someone at NBC killing anti-Weinstein material.
Two days ago, we learned that Lorne Michaels - the longtime mastermind behind NBC's Saturday Night Live - killed sketches dealing with the Weinstein story. His reason? "It's a New York thing."
From the New York Times:
As it turns out, the show did have jokes about Mr. Weinstein ready — they just weren’t used, according to a person familiar with how Saturday’s episode was prepared.
The absence of any commentary about Mr. Weinstein opened up “S.N.L.” to rebukes from conservative critics who said that the show was covering up for a prominent liberal.
That criticism was hardly alleviated by remarks made early Sunday morning by Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of “S.N.L.” Speaking to a videographer for The Daily Mail who noted that the show had made no mention of Mr. Weinstein, Mr. Michaels said, “It’s a New York thing.”
So, given that at least two arms of the NBC machine have decided to ignore the Weinstein story it's worth asking: Is NBC afraid of the former movie mogul - as Farrow implies - or were they engaged in a pattern of protecting him until the story got to big?
...And what, exactly, is it about the Weinstein accusations that would qualify as "a New York thing?"