Ronan Farrow’s new book, Catch and Kill, details Harvey Weinstein’s efforts to kill a damning story about him at NBC by threatening to divulge Matt Lauer’s history of alleged sexual harassment at the network.
“Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it,” Farrow writes in the book, new details of which were published in The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. Weinstein reportedly huddled with Dylan Howard, chief content officer of publisher American Media, Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, at a New York hotel in September 2017, just days before the New York Times published its initial story on the disgraced producer. Howard reportedly produced several manila envelopes, which contained information about Lauer that could be used as leverage.
In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC denied the claim: “NBC News was never contacted by AMI, or made aware in any way of any threats from them, or from anyone else, for that matter. And the idea of NBC News taking a threat seriously from a tabloid company about Matt Lauer is especially preposterous, since they already covered him with great regularity.”
In the end, NBC did not broadcast Farrow’s story, for reasons that Farrow says had more to do with Weinstein’s financial and personal coziness with top network executives than it did with journalistic standards.
Farrow instead took his scoop to The New Yorker, which published it days after a competing investigation in the New York Times went live. NBC maintains that the New Yorker version of the story was markedly different than the version it had seen, which it claims was not sufficiently reported.
Lauer was accused of sexual harassment by multiple NBC employees, and fired by the network in November 2017. Farrow’s book includes details of seven workplace-harassment allegations against Lauer in the years before his firing, as well as seven nondisclosure agreements signed by alleged Lauer accusers — painting a picture of a network that knew about Lauer’s behavior, despite its claim to the contrary two years ago.
It also includes details of the allegation that ended Lauer’s career at NBC: a former employee, Brooke Nevils, claims the anchor raped her in a hotel room while at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. In a letter published Wednesday, Lauer denied that charge, and any claims of impropriety beyond extramarital affairs.