Ronan Farrow Speaks out After Bombshell Book Reveals Matt Lauer Rape Allegations
Ronan Farrow is standing by his reporting about NBC News in his new book, despite chairman Andy Lack’s insistence that Farrow’s account is “fundamentally untrue.”
During an appearance on Good Morning America on Friday to promote Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow maintained his claim that NBC News killed his bombshell 2017 article about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct after the disgraced producer spooked the network with reports of Matt Lauer‘s own sexual misconduct allegations.
“Look, I’m confident in the reporting in the book. I’ll let it stand on its own,” Farrow began. “But the point here is not that we did indeed have multiple named women in every draft of this story, we did indeed have a taped confession from Harvey Weinstein, the point is that they ordered a hard stop to reporting. They told me and a producer working on this that we should not take a single call, they told us to cancel interviews.”
“The question, for years, has been why,” he continued. “Because every journalist at that institution didn’t understand why. And I think the book answers that question. This was a company with a lot of secrets.”
(In a statement to PEOPLE, Lauer’s attorney Elizabeth M. Locke says: “In 25 years at NBC, Matt Lauer did not have a single complaint brought to his attention until November 28, 2017. NBC has already stated this for the record after an internal investigation. I am sure NBC will have much to say about Ronan’s claims.”)
“What we show in this book, with a paper trail, with documents, is that there were multiple secret settlements and non-disclosures being struck with women at NBC News, years before — over period of six to seven years, a period in which NBC had previously denied any settlements — there were seven non-disclosure agreements,” he said. “Multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers. This is years before this incident with Brooke Nevils and the firing. And I spoke to senior executives who were told about those earlier incidents [with Matt Lauer].”
“It is indisputable, based on the evidence in this book, that there was a chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up, with victims of harassment and assault. Some of them about Lauer, some about others in the company,” Farrow added. “This was a pattern, it was concealed from journalists there. That’s bigger than NBC, it’s bigger than these executives.”
Earlier this week, Lack denied Farrows claims the network quashed his story in an internal memo to NBC staff, obtained by PEOPLE.
“As you know, our news organization is filled with dedicated, professional journalists, including some of the best and most experienced investigative reporters, as well as others who support our reporting with exceptional talent, integrity and decency,” Lack, 72, wrote on Wednesday. “It disappoints me to say that even with [the] passage of time, Farrow’s account has become neither more accurate, nor more respectful of the dedicated colleagues he worked with here at NBC News. He uses a variety of tactics to paint a fundamentally untrue picture.”
Lack wrote that as Farrow began reporting his Weinstein story, NBC News “completely supported it over many months with resources — both financial and editorial.”
“After seven months, without one victim or witness on the record, he simply didn’t have a story that met our standard for broadcast nor that of any major news organization,” he continued. “Not willing to accept that standard and not wanting to get beaten by the New York Times, [Farrow] asked to take his story to an outlet he claimed was ready to publish right away.”
NBC News gave Farrow the “go ahead” to publish his investigation with The New Yorker in late 2017, Lack said, five days after the Times broke the story first.
Farrow’s article, he claimed, “bore little resemblance to the reporting he had while at NBC News.”
“Let me remind you of who we really are. Our journalists have been at the forefront of blockbuster investigations into sexual harassment and abuse on many stories — many pre-dating Weinstein — including USA Gymnastics, Silicon Valley, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein and more,” Lack wrote. “To get across the finish line on big stories like these takes exceptional work, collaboration, patience, and a commitment to a set of standards and practices that ultimately lends our work great credibility.”
In his memo, Lack also denied Farrow’s claims about the previous “secret settlements.”
“Matt Lauer’s conduct in 2014 was appalling and reprehensible — and of course we said so at the time,” he said. “The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours. Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive.”
“Following Lauer’s firing, NBCU’s legal team did an exhaustive investigation of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff,” Lack said. “They uncovered no claims or settlements associated with allegations of inappropriate conduct by Lauer before he was fired. Only following his termination did NBCU reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time, and those women have always been free to share their stories about Lauer with anyone they choose.”
An NBC News spokesperson added: “The first time we learned about Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct in the workplace was the night of November 27, 2017 and he was fired in 24 hours. Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening, paid any ‘hush money,’ or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s appalling behavior is absolutely false.”
“NBCU’s legal team has done an exhaustive search of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff, and uncovered no claims or settlements relating to allegations of inappropriate conduct by Matt Lauer that pre-date his firing,” the spokesperson continued. “Only following his termination did we reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time and those women have always been free to share their stories about Lauer with anyone they choose.”
A rep for Farrow denied NBC’s account and told PEOPLE in a statement, “The claims by NBC’s senior management about Ronan Farrow’s reporting are simply not true, as his book will methodically demonstrate.”
“In fact, relevant sections of the book confirm not only how many women were named, but also how much proof Ronan had gathered,” Farrow’s rep adds. “Importantly, it documents the lengths to which NBC executives went to thwart the reporting efforts of Ronan and his producer Rich McHugh and why they did so. That is why it is called Catch and Kill, out on October 15.”
Meanwhile, an attorney for Weinstein — who has denied allegations of non-consensual sex — did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Farrow’s claims.