Rich McHugh, a former NBC producer, accused NBC News of trying to kill reporter Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein exposé, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Mr. McHugh said the network actively tried to work against the work that he and Mr. Farrow were doing to uncover Mr. Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations. He told The Times that NBC News’ approach was ” a massive breach of journalistic integrity.”
The former investigative unit producer described how unnamed executives specifically instructed him to cancel an interview with a woman with a rape allegation against the Hollywood mogul.
Mr. McHugh said they told him “to stand down on the story altogether.”
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim denied all accusations and said Mr. McHugh was not told to drop the story “in the way he’s implying.”
Mr. Oppenheim explained that Mr. Farrow requested to take the story to another publication a day before the interview was supposed to take place, which they allowed. The issue became Mr. Farrow’s use of an NBC camera crew for a story that would not be published with the network.
Mr. Farrow defended Mr. McHugh to The Times.
“Rich is a fantastic producer and journalist,” he said in a statement to The Times. “He’s a person of integrity, and he cared deeply about the investigative stories we worked on together and the importance of seeing them through.”
Chris Francescani, another former NBC News employee, backed Mr. Farrow and Mr. McHugh on Twitter.
“I worked in the NBC News Investigative Unit in the fall of 2016. Rich McHugh and Ronan Farrow are telling the truth,” he tweeted. “NBC News executives are not.”
This is not the first time NBC News took criticism for not breaking the Weinstein story.
In October, days after the story came out in The New Yorker, Mr. Oppenheim defended his network’s decision. He said that while the story was with NBC News, there was no on-the-record credible witness or victim, but Mr. Farrow expanded the story after he moved to another publication.
Mr. Farrow ultimately won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his reporting. The award was shared with other reporters at The Times who also wrote about the #MeToo movement.