It was September 2017, and Harvey Weinstein was huddled at a corner table at New York's Loews Regency hotel alongside Dylan Howard, chief content officer of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. Weinstein had become increasingly alarmed about a story that Ronan Farrow — then a correspondent for NBC News and most famous for being the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen — was vigorously pursuing about the powerful producer's long-rumored sexual predations. Weinstein had worked to suppress variations of that story for decades, and he was desperate for it to stay secret. But Farrow (along with a team at The New York Times) was closing in. Weinstein wanted to bully NBC News into killing the story. He needed leverage.
"Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer's behavior and capable of revealing it," Farrow writes in his long-awaited new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Little, Brown and Company, Oct. 15). Citing anonymous sources at NBC and AMI, Farrow, 31, claims that Weinstein was using the Enquirer's accumulated dirt on the Today show star's alleged workplace misconduct to pressure NBC executives to kill Farrow's long-gestating Weinstein exposé. (Farrow includes a denial from NBC that a specific threat was ever communicated. And in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the network says: "NBC News was never contacted by 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.")
Weinstein also attempted to leverage his long-term relationship with Hillary Clinton to pressure Farrow, he writes. In summer 2017, while Farrow was trying to lock down an interview with Clinton for his foreign policy book — while also still working on the Weinstein story — he received a call from Clinton's publicist, Nick Merrill, who told him that the "big story" Farrow was working on was a "concern for us." Then, in September 2017, according to an email cited in the book, Weinstein wrote to Deborah Turness, the ex-president of NBC News who now runs NBC News International, to propose a docuseries on Clinton. "Your Hillary doc series sounds absolutely stunning," Turness responded.
Weinstein's tentacles even stretched to Farrow's own estranged father. Days before the Times story broke, Weinstein is said to have called Allen on a film set in Central Park, soliciting advice about how to deal with his son. Allen declined: "Jeez, I'm so sorry. Good luck."
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