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The row between NBC News and Ronan Farrow over the network’s failed attempts to report on sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein escalated Monday night with one of the disgraced movie mogul’s accusers describing the network’s attempts to discredit Farrow as “shameful.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Emily Nestor wrote that she was “disappointed” but “not surprised” by a memo from NBC News chief Andy Lack that sought to defend the network from claims that it had stymied Farrow’s attempts to report the story while he was working at NBC.
Lack’s memo, which was released to combat what he described as “baseless speculation,” outlined how the news division in August 2017 ultimately felt that Farrow’s story was “not ready for air” due in part to a lack of on-camera interviews with Weinstein’s accusers. Farrow later took the story to The New Yorker and published his bombshell report in October. Nestor was on-the-record in that New Yorker story.
In her statement, Nestor says that she, along with Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, were willing to go on camera with their allegations against Weinstein. Nestor had filmed her interview in silhouette but after Rose McGowan pulled out of the story she had “tentatively offered either to attach my name to the interview in silhouette or potentially even reshoot the interview with my face visible. However, they were not interested in this interview.”
Nestor praised Farrow’s persistence in getting the Weinstein story out and described NBC’s “attempt to impugn his character or his conduct in his tireless work to publish this story is shameful.”
Late Monday night, Farrow released a statement on Twitter pushing back against claims made in Lack’s memo. “I’ve avoided commenting on the specifics of NBC’s role in the Weinstein story to keep the focus on the women and their allegations,” Farrow wrote. “But executives there have now produced a memo that contains numerous false or misleading statements, so I’ll say briefly: their list of sources is incomplete and omits women who were either identified in the NBC story or offered to be.”
He added: “The suggestion to take the story to another outlet was first raised by NBC, not me, and I took them up on it only after it became clear that I was being blocked from further reporting. The story was twice cleared and deemed reportable by legal and standards only to be blocked by executives who refused to allow us to seek comment from Harvey Weinstein.”
On Tuesday morning, NBC said Nestor never told the network she was willing to be named. “Nestor is the anonymous victim of harassment referred to in the NBC News document and was contacted during the editorial review process by an investigative producer with two decades of experience,” said an NBC News spokesperson in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “She took contemporaneous notes of their conversation and at no time then or since did Nestor tell NBC News she was willing to be named. NBC News of course respected and honored that decision.”
NBC added that the news team “based its judgments on the draft scripts Farrow presented to
editors in July and August of 2017 and all the raw notes and information he shared with his colleagues, including, significantly, the editorial review team.” Of McGowan, the news network said “as the interview transcript clearly indicates, she did not name Weinstein as her attacker on camera in the February 2017 interview or any time after that. The first time Farrow submitted a draft script on the Weinstein story was five months later, on July 23, 2017. If Farrow had McGowan naming Weinstein on the record but off-camera before that date, and wanted to proceed with airing a story, he did not submit one to his editors.”
Emily Nestor’s full statement:
I am immensely disappointed in, but not surprised, to read NBC’s recent comments about Ronan Farrow’s work on the Weinstein story. Notably absent in the list of seven women (Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Lucia Evans, Emma de Caunes, Jessica Barth, and Sophie Dix) they claim were unwilling to be identified from The New Yorker story are two women who had been involved in Farrow’s reporting while at NBC, Ambra Gutierrez and myself. Ambra had always been willing to allow Farrow to identify her by name and use the recording of her, and I had filmed an interview in silhouette. After Rose McGowan pulled out of the story, realizing that the story was in peril of not being made public at all, Farrow and I discussed and I had tentatively offered either to attach my name to the interview in silhouette or potentially even reshoot the interview with my face visible. However, they were not interested in this interview.
NBC further claims, “…We wondered then, and still wonder now, whether the brave women who spoke to him in print would have also sat before TV cameras and lights.” The condescension dripping from this phrase is despicable. The implication that these “brave women” were just not “brave” enough to go in front of a TV crew undermines all of the dangers, uncertainties, and obstacles we faced in coming forward in The New Yorker piece. Beyond which, I actually did film a spot for NBC, albeit in silhouette, and had tentatively agreed with Farrow to reshoot the interview in full-face or attach my name to the already filmed interview in silhouette.
I feel forever indebted to Farrow for finding a platform from which my voice and the voices of other victims could be heard. Beyond which, I am even more grateful that he handled himself throughout with integrity, professionalism, strength, kindness and honesty. To attempt to impugn his character or his conduct in his tireless work to publish this story is shameful.
Sept. 4, 7:10 a.m.: Updated with NBC statement.
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