NBC News President Noah Oppenheim sent a letter to employees on Monday denying that the organization suppressed reports of sexual abuse by former Today Show host Matt Lauer and movie producer Harvey Weinstein, as is alleged in journalist Ronan Farrow’s forthcoming book.
Farrow, who worked for NBC at the time he was investigating accusations against Weinstein, writes in his upcoming book, “Catch and Kill,” that NBC struck secretive nondisclosure agreements and settlements with Lauer’s alleged victims. He also alleges NBC executives tried to stop him from investigating sexual abuse claims against Weinstein out of fear that the film mogul would expose Lauer’s behavior and their complicity in it.
“Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior to November of 2017 and were paid settlements to silence them,” Oppenheim wrote in his letter. “Not only is this false, the so-called evidence Farrow uses in his book to support the charge collapses under the slightest scrutiny.”
Oppenheim goes on to call Farrow’s allegations a “smear” and a “conspiracy theory.”
Farrow also writes in his book that Weinstein tried to use his connections with Hillary Clinton publicist Nick Merrill to suppress the reports against him. According to Farrow, Merrill told him during a phone conversation that the Weinstein story was a “concern” for the former first lady.
Merrill commented that he had “no idea what Weinstein was saying to people to save himself.”
Lauer was fired from the Today Show in 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct. In his book, Farrow writes of a previously-unknown allegation that Lauer raped an NBC staffer while at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Lauer has denied the allegations.
“Old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made,” Lauer wrote in a statement in response to Farrow’s book.