In exclusive comments to The Wrap, New Yorker Editor-in-Chief David Remnick is speaking up for journalist Ronan Farrow, who is engaged in a growing dispute with NBC News about exactly why the network passed on his explosive Harvey Weinstein exposé.
“It was very clear to me when Ronan first contacted me two months ago that he had done a tremendous amount of work on a very complex and sensitive story and the building blocks of a New Yorker piece were either there or taking shape,” Remnick told TheWrap. “There was more work to be done and he put his head down and he did it in a way that I can only call exemplary. I can’t say enough about him.”
The new details brought by Farrow’s piece included multiple allegations of rape against Weinstein and secretly recorded audio footage from 2015 of the Hollywood titan making unwanted sexual advances toward a young woman.
At the time that Farrow approached the New Yorker in August, he had already obtained the damning audio of Weinstein and spoken with multiple credible sources. The final piece, citing a “10-month investigation,” suggests 80 percent of the work was completed by the time NBC abandoned it.
However, questions swirled almost immediately as to why Farrow had not published with his employer, NBC News. During an interview Tuesday evening with Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host pressed Farrow on the issue.
“NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable, that it wasn’t ready to go by the time you brought it to them,” said Maddow.
“I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively-reportable piece that should have been public earlier and immediately, obviously The New Yorker recognized that,” Farrow responded. “And it is not accurate to say it was not reportable and there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”
The account was directly challenged Wednesday by NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, who reiterated the company position during an internal town hall.
“The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us,” said Oppenheim. “We reached a point over the summer, where as an organization, we didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it. Ronan very understandably wanted to keep forging ahead, so, we didn’t want to stand in his way and he took it to the New Yorker and did a ton more extraordinary work.”