Ronan Farrow authored The New Yorker‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning series exposing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s criminal harassment of women colleagues, but he publicly thanked those who aided his investigation last fall. This included his “wonderful producer” at NBC, Rich McHugh, whom Farrow said “refused to bow to pressure to stop, through numerous shoots, even when it meant risking his job.”
Now, McHugh is speaking out, saying that NBC attempted to bury the Weinstein story, with orders coming from “the very highest levels of NBC,” The New York Times reports.
Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, denies all allegations, saying the network’s issue with the story was grounded in a lack of on-the-record victims willing to speak on camera, not the story’s direction.
“We repeatedly made clear to Ronan and Rich McHugh the standard for publication is we needed at least one credible on-the-record victim or witness of misconduct,” said Oppenheim, according to the Times. “And we never met that threshold while Ronan was reporting for us.”
McHugh, however, says this is not the case. The former NBC producer left the network two weeks ago, allowing him to feel he can speak openly about his experience without repercussions.
“At a critical juncture in our reporting on Harvey Weinstein,” recounts McHugh, according to CNN, “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 also said Weinstein’s associates were calling him throughout the eight months of investigation work. “I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly,” he added. “One time it even happened when we were in the room.”
But Oppenheim told the Times that Weinstein had no influence on the network’s decisions. He said he actually assigned the Weinstein story to Farrow when rumors circulated that actress Rose McGowan might have had an experience she’d be willing to talk about. According to Oppenheim, the network supported Farrow’s work for eight months, but disagreed when he said his work was ready for air.
“Unfortunately, he did not yet have a single victim of—or witness to—misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified,” said Oppenheim, CNN reports.
Farrow, a contributor to NBC, requested to take the story elsewhere, wanting to go public sooner than NBC would allow. Oppenheim granted permission, and Farrow took the story to The New Yorker, where he published specific names on the record that Oppenheim said were not in his NBC reporting.
Despite the network’s defense, McHugh maintains that NBC mishandled the groundbreaking story.
“I don’t believe they’ve told the truth about it,” said McHugh, according to the Times. “That’s my opinion. I’ve asked that question, and to this day I still have not been given a good answer.”