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Rachel Maddow, the highest-rated and most influential host on MSNBC, trained her glare on her own employers on Friday night, bashing NBC management for letting Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein “get away.”
Her comments were the most direct and piercing criticism of NBC’s handling of Farrow’s work from an on-air employee.
The Oct. 25 show featured an interview with Farrow, and the host’s decision to book him sent a powerful message to her superiors. Farrow has accused the network of blocking his reporting on Weinstein’s alleged misconduct, before taking his story to The New Yorker and winning a Pulitzer Prize, a contention the network strongly denies.
“The allegations about the behavior of Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer are gut-wrenching at baseline, no matter who you are or what your connection is to this story,” Maddow told her viewers. “But accusations that people in positions of authority in this building may have been complicit in some way of shielding those guys from accountability, those accusations are very, very hard to stomach.”
Continued Maddow: “The amount of consternation this has caused among the rank-and-file people who work here would be almost impossible for me to overstate.”
The MSNBC host also broke the news that NBC has decided to release former employees from any legal clause that would prevent them from reporting misconduct.
“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” an NBC spokesperson is credited with saying in the statement.
Farrow thanked Maddow on Twitter, writing: “Credit where due: @maddow, independently confirming my reporting that Weinstein story was halted by NBC execs and calling her bosses to account on their own air — not an easy thing, for her or her staff — did this.”
On Friday, Farrow ended the segment by thanking Maddow. “Thank you, Rachel, for all you do,” he said.
Maddow famously raised eyebrows when she booked Farrow in October 2017 and asked him directly why he left the network and published his Weinstein reporting elsewhere. “I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosive reportable piece that should have been public earlier,” he told her at the time.
Maddow’s primetime colleague, Chris Hayes, also made comments that were deemed to be critical of NBC’s handling of Farrow’s work on his Oct. 14 show. “Ronan Farrow walked out of NBC News after working on the Weinstein story, and within two months published an incredible article at The New Yorker that not only won a Pulitzer, but helped trigger a massive social and cultural reckoning that continues to this day,” he said. “It is the kind of journalism that you want to do as a journalist, that everyone who works in this business should want to facilitate. Of course, there’s a reason it took so long for the true story about Weinstein to be told, for the many allegations of him to stay locked in a vault. And that’s because time and again the path of least resistance for those in power was not to cross Weinstein or his army of friends and lawyers.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to NBC for a reaction to Maddow’s comments.
Addie Zinone, a former Today show employee who had a consensual relationship with Lauer that she said was an abuse of his power, praised NBC’s decision on Friday night.
“To echo what Ronan said, it’s positive news,” she told THR. “I hope these ladies feel empowered to speak out — if and when they are ready — knowing they will be supported while unafraid of retaliation. It’s daunting coming forward, but I’m hopeful they feel less pressure with this news. That said, they need an outside investigation. It’s obvious, if they want any credibility moving forward.”
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