'Catch And Kill' Author Ronan Farrow Accuses NBC President Noah Oppenheim Of Covering Up For Matt Lauer And Harvey Weinstein

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Who Is Noah Oppenheim? Ronan Farrow Accuses NBC President Covering Up Matt Lauer And Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Allegations

Since 2017, Ronan Farrow’s name has appeared in numerous investigative journalism articles, mainly focused on the sexual abuse and rape allegations against the now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein. His investigations into the claims eventually exposed similar misconduct allegations against once-powerful men like Eric Schneiderman, Les Moonves, Jeffrey Epstein, and Joi Ito.

His new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, was released on October 15th and with it, a string of new allegations followed against Matt Lauer, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, and Weinstein, including actress Daryl Hannah’s accusations.

The book also details efforts by numerous people to cover up evidence, including the president of NBC himself, Noah Oppenheim.

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Who is Noah Oppenheim? Oppenheim is the current president of the NBC network, and was previously the executive in charge and senior producer of the Today Show. In 2017, Farrow accused him of “deliberately ignoring” the reports and allegations against Weinstein, and forbade NBC News to make any reports on the matter. 

In a piece in Vanity Fair, Rich McHugh, who worked with Farrow on reporting the cover-up, recalled:

“But as I witnessed firsthand during the year I spent at NBC News after Ronan published our reporting in The New Yorker... [Andy] Lack [chairman of NBC news] and Oppenheim were the ones who were lying. They not only personally intervened to shut down our investigation of Weinstein, they even refused to allow me to follow up on our work after Weinstein’s history of sexual assault became front-page news. As the record shows, they behaved more like members of Weinstein’s PR team than the journalists they claim to be. Thanks to them, a leading national news organization, in broad daylight and with zero remorse, abdicated its single greatest responsibility — to relentlessly pursue and tell the truth.

Oppenheim is the one, ironically, who kicked off our reporting on Weinstein. He suggested we interview Rose McGowan, who told us that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. After months of reporting, we also obtained the now-infamous audio from an NYPD sting operation in which Weinstein admitted to sexually assaulting a model and aspiring actor named Ambra Gutierrez. We played the recording for Rich Greenberg, the head of the investigative unit at NBC News. ‘If this airs, he’s toast,’ he told us.

But the more reporting we gathered, the more nervous the network got. They began raising a range of strange and convoluted concerns about our work. Maybe Ronan had a conflict of interest, they argued, because his father, Woody Allen, had helped Weinstein’s career nearly 30 years earlier. Or maybe we were engaging in what is known as ‘tortious interference’ by speaking to women who had signed nondisclosure agreements with Weinstein.

Time after time, despite the fact that our reporting had been vetted and cleared by NBC’s lawyers, they ordered us to ‘pause’ our reporting so they could ‘wrap our arms around this thing.’ Sensing that our bosses were getting cold feet, Ronan and I agreed that he should quietly approach the New Yorker about publishing the story, in case NBC wound up shutting us down.”

And now, amid the release of Farrow’s book and allegations against him of a cover-up, Oppenheim shot back. A six-page staff-wife memo on Monday from Oppenheim claims that Farrow has an “axe to grind” with the network.

A portion of the memo read:

“As we’ve said since the moment [Lauer] was fired, his abuses should never have happened. Ronan Farrow’s book takes that undeniable fact and twists it into a lie — alleging we were a ‘company with a lot of secrets’... His smear rests on the allegation that NBC’s management knew about and took steps to hide Matt Lauer’s misconduct before his firing in November of 2017. Without that, he has no basis on which to rest his second conspiracy theory — that his Harvey Weinstein reporting was squashed to protect Lauer... 

The only three examples we can find that Farrow alleges are Lauer-related before 2017, with even minimal detail, involve employees who by their own admission made no complaint to management, and whose departure agreements were unrelated to Lauer and completely routine... Farrow’s effort to defame NBC News is clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind. It is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines and outright inaccuracies.”

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The memo made point-by-point rebuttals against Farrow’s accusations and claims related to the network. Oppenheim also claimed that circumstances around NBC  paying several women, who are mentioned in the book, are “unrelated to their apparent knowledge of Lauer’s misconduct.”

During an appearance on Monday morning on This Morning, Farrow defended his book, saying:

“This book is an extraordinarily meticulously fact-checked work of investigative journalism, it’s two years of reporting. One of the senior fact-checkers at the New Yorker checked it. I’ll let the reporting and the book stand on its own. We’re very confident and it’s been amazing to see how the press has rallied around it. I think people have seen it for what it is.

There has been an outpouring of support from journalists at [NBC], and sources coming forward saying they too have stories. That’s very common... with these kinds of investigative stories. When I reported those stories about CBS that you just mentioned, similar campaign to undercut the reporting that revved up, and similar support that ultimately carried the day.”

Though some may stand behind Oppenheim, there’s no denying he has a history of misogyny. Internet sleuths dug up articles from Oppenheim's Harvard Crimson days, in which he mocked feminists and women, bragged about objectifying women, and criticized NBC for firing a sportscaster who was accused of sexual assault.

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One of the articles in the Harvard Crimson discussed the firing of sportscaster Marv Albert after he pleaded guilty in a sexual assault case. Oppenheim also defended the allegations against Weinstein, allegedly saying, “Harvey Weinstein grabbing a lady’s breasts a couple of years ago, that’s not national news.” Gross.

Oppenheim has since said of his Crimson articles, “I couldn’t be more sorry I wrote them. They are totally inappropriate.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.