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The furor surrounding allegations in Ronan Farrow’s memoir Catch and Kill, which details his efforts to report on Harvey Weinstein while at NBC News, has not shaken NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke’s faith in news division leadership.
Burke continues to voice support internally for NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack, including at a mid-October meeting of his direct reports, which came as the first media stories about Farrow’s book began to swirl. And earlier this year, Noah Oppenheim signed a new multiyear contract, NBC News sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lack is scheduled to retire after the 2020 presidential election; Oppenheim is expected to replace him.
Farrow claims network executives’ efforts to hide prior knowledge of Matt Lauer’s misconduct intersected with his Weinstein reporting. (The Wall Street Journal first reported Oppenheim’s contract extension.)
Lack and Oppenheim have strenuously denied they had any knowledge of Lauer’s alleged behavior before the human resources complaint that precipitated his quick termination in November 2017. And they have also forcefully pushed back on Farrow’s assertion that Weinstein and the National Enquirer’s Dylan Howard were using dirt on Lauer to pressure them to halt Farrow and former NBC News producer Rich McHugh’s reporting.
“NBC News was never contacted by [National Enquirer parent] AMI, or made aware in any way of any threats from them, or from anyone else, for that matter. And the idea of NBC News taking a threat seriously from a tabloid company about Matt Lauer is especially preposterous, since they already covered him with great regularity,” the network said in an Oct. 9 statement to THR. Weinstein also denied the allegation.
As Catch and Kill has generated fresh headlines — and a rape allegation against Lauer — many high-level staffers have privately voiced support for Oppenheim, including Today co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
Among others, the pushback from Lack and Oppenheim has not gone over well. “A lot of people just don’t believe them,” said one network source. That incredulity in part stems from the fact that both Lack and Oppenheim have histories at NBC News that predate their current tenures, and that Lauer’s behavior, often with junior female colleagues, was well known at the company and continually overlooked.
Multiple anchors have publicly questioned the network’s handling of Lauer, including Joe Scarborough, who voiced his concern in 2017 after Lauer was fired. On his Oct. 14 show, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes noted that Catch and Kill is “kind of journalism that you want to do as a journalist, that everyone who works in this business should want to facilitate.”
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