MSNBC President Allegedly Shared Naked Photo Of Maria Menounos With Staff

Photo: getty
MSNBC President Shared Naked Photo Of Maria Menounos With Staff

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow has a well-earned reputation of exposing the worst behavior in the entertainment and media industries. His reporting on Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual assault and harassment ripped open the culture of sexual abuse in Hollywood. He followed up that story with investigations into misconduct by Les Moonves at CBS and he reported on allegations that Brett Kavanaugh, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court, assaulted women in his high school and college years. 

Now Farrow has written a book about the process of reporting on the Weinstein story, an assignment he was originally doing for NBC. Catch and Kill describes the atmosphere at NBC and reveals that many of the people at the venerated news institution are not just flawed, but outright foul. One person who comes under Farrow's scrutiny is MSNBC president Phil Griffin who allegedly once showed staff a photo of a naked NBC on-air personality, without her permission. 

Who is Phil Griffin? Read on for the shocking details. 

1. Phil Griffin's career

Griffin grew up in New York and Ohio and went to Vassar College where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in English in 1979. In 1980, he landed a job at CNN and was there when the news network first went on the air. He worked in the sports department and became friendly with Keith Olbermann, who was a sportscaster at the time. In 1983, he got a producing job at NBC. He started working on the Today Show and eventually also worked as a senior broadcast producer for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw and produced NBC News coverage of the O. J. Simpson trial. In 1996, he moved over to MSNBC just as it launched. During his time there, he worked as an executive producer for shows such as Hardball with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann's show. He eventually rose to head of prime-time programming for the network, where he approved the launch of The Rachel Maddow Show and Morning Joe. In 2005, NBC CEO Jeff Zucker appointed Griffin senior vice president of NBC News and in 2008, he was appointed the president of MSNBC.

Griffin at the Essence Music Festival.

2. Farrow's reporting on Weinstein for NBC

Ronan Farrow was familiar with Griffin personally. Farrow hosted a short-lived show for MSNBC and then stayed with NBC as an investigative journalist. He hosted a segment on the Today Show called  "Undercover with Ronan Farrow" where he covered topics that didn't usually get mainstream media attention. In Catch and Kill, Farrow talks about wanting to report on sexual harassment in Hollywood. He is a uniquely positioned figure to do this as the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. His personal Hollywood connections bolstered by his journalistic credentials lent him a formidable set of tools to root out this problem. With the network's knowledge, he began investigating the long-rumored story that Harvey Weinstein habitually abused and assaulted women around him. Farrow's intent had been to air the story on NBC, but after months of work, he was told the story would never run. The network says it was due to the quality of reporting. However, within a matter of weeks, Farrow shopped the story to The New Yorker, who published it as a 7,000 word series of articles. The reporting and publication won the magazine a Pulitizer Prize. 

RELATED: Meet Max Stier — Brett Kavanaugh's Yale Classmate Who Witnessed Him Harassing Co-Ed And Tried To Report To FBI

3. Griffin's misdeeds at MSNBC

Not only did NBC pass over what turned out to be award-winning journalism when they cut off Farrow's work on Weinstein, but they also led Farrow to write about his experience doing the reporting. In the new book, Farrow tells hair-raising stories about the internal culture at NBC and the ways in which senior staff abused their power. He writes about Phil Griffin in particular as a crude boss who once pressured female employees to join him at a seedy Times Square peep show, according to The Cut, who obtained an advanced copy of the book. Farrow also recounts a staff meeting in which Griffin showed the gathered employees a photo of a woman's exposed vagina and said "Would you look at that? Not bad, not bad.” Jezebel reports that the photo was printed out paparazzi image of Access Hollywood star Maria Menounos. The image, which was published without Menounos’s consent, wad snapped while she was on vacation. Her swimsuit slipped and accidentally exposed her body.

Farrow's book is out today.

4. Matt Lauer raped a woman

Griffin wasn't the only highly-placed man in the NBC empire who had a habit of abusing women. Everyone remembers that Matt Lauer was abruptly fired after decades of hosting the Today Show when revelations broke that he assaulted at least one colleague and sexually propositioned and harassed others. Farrow's book details the assault allegations in excruciating detail. Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee agreed to go on the record with Farrow and told him how Lauer anally raped her in a hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Variety reported that Nevils told Farrow that she continued a sexual relationship after the assault because she worried about what would happen to her career if she didn't do it. Variety reports that Farrow wrote: "What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I’d spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her. ‘This is what I blame myself most for,’” Nevils reportedly told Farrow. “'It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.'” 

Farrow also alleges that Nevils was not the only woman abused by Lauer and that the network had been paying out settlements and asking victims to sign non-disclosure agreements to protect their star's reputation.

RELATED: Meet Luke Thompson, Fiancé Of Matt Lauer's Rape Accuser Brooke Nevils

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5. NBC denies it all

NBC president Noah Oppenheim has come out swinging in response to the allegations Farrow makes about the network. The Washington Post reports that Oppenheim said: "We have no secrets and nothing to hide." He added: “There is no evidence of any reports of Lauer’s misconduct before his firing, no settlements, no ‘hush money’ — no way we have found that NBC’s current leadership could have been aware of his misdeeds in the past.” Oppenheim calls the whole book a smear and denies wrongdoing. 

Farrow’s publisher Little, Brown and Co. wrote a rebuttal, asking “If NBC is so certain of their facts, why not release the women [who signed nondisclosure agreements with the network] and let them speak for themselves?”

RELATED: The 5 Most Disturbing Details About Harvey Weinstein's Sexual Harassment Allegations And His 'Code Of Silence'

6. No way to squash this story

NBC may be upset about the things Farrow said about Griffin, Lauer and others, but there is no chance that they can prevent people from reading the allegations in the book. It was released this week and it's already the number two top seller on Apple Books, a number one bestseller in its category on Amazon and is likely to top the New York Times Bestseller list for the week as well. 

Ronan Farrow stands by all his reporting.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.