News, Culture & Society

Harvey Weinstein got Hillary Clinton to try and stop expose, used Matt Lauer dossiers, called Woody

Harvey Weinstein turned to his vast Rolodex of high-powered friends to try and kill Ronan Farrow’s expose detailing his decades of sexual misconduct. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Farrow said that among those Weinstein turned to were Hillary Clinton, the editors of American Media and even his estranged father Woody Allen.

The first two went to considerable lengths to try and quash Farrow’s reporting, and dossiers detailing allegations of Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct during his time on Today did play a role in NBC killing the story while he was at the network, claims Farrow.

Clinton did her best too says Farrow, who recounts being told his ‘big story’ was a ‘concern for us’ by the then-presidential hopeful’s publicist Nick Merrill.

He also claims that the campaign withheld access to Clinton at a time when Farrow was trying to interview her for the foreign policy book he was working on at the time. 

Attempts to rope in Farrow’s family were much less successful, including a call to Farrow’s estranged father Woody Allen.

‘Jeez, I’m so sorry. Good luck,’ Allen told Weinstein, explaining that there was nothing he could do to stop the story.

Harv-ary: A publicist for Hillary Clinton (above in 2012 with Clinton) told Farrow that his ‘big story’ was a ‘concern for us’ when the journalist sought access to the presidential hopeful

Wood-vey: Days before the expose dropped, Weinstein even called Farrow's estranged father Woody Allen (above in 2008), who said: 'Jeez, I'm so sorry. Good luck'

Wood-vey: Days before the expose dropped, Weinstein even called Farrow’s estranged father Woody Allen (above in 2008), who said: ‘Jeez, I’m so sorry. Good luck’

Farrow published his expose on Weinstein five days after The New York Times.

His reporting was aided at the time by work previously done for the New Yorker by Ken Auletta, who had learned of a number of incidents involving the mogul in the early aughts. 

Farrow would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for his work. 


Farrow’s claims about Clinton and AMI were first reported by The New York Times in a story that cited separate specific incidents. 

In that story, from December 2017, Merrill was asked bout Weinstein’s behavior, and said: ‘We were shocked when we learned what he’d done. It’s despicable behavior, and the women that have come forward have shown enormous courage.’ 

Mamma Mia: Farrow's sister and uncle were named in a letter from Weinstein's lawyer

Mamma Mia: Farrow’s sister and uncle were named in a letter from Weinstein’s lawyer

That would have been months after he referenced Farrow’s ‘big story.’

The Times reported that Lena Dunham told multiple members of Clinton’s staff about Weinstein’s behavior well before the publication of both exposes. 

‘I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,’ said Dunham.

‘I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.’

Dunham was assured her concerns would be relayed to campaign manager Robby Mook, but later shared her story again with a spokesperson when the campaign continued to have Weinstein spearhead events and fundraisers for Clinton. 

Merrill, when confronted with Dunham’s recollections, said: ‘As to claims about a warning, that’s something staff wouldn’t forget.’ 


The Times report also noted how AMI utilized the practice of ‘catch and kill’ to make sure that Weinstein accuser Ambra Battilana Gutierrez could not share her allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Farrow claims that NBC killed his story after an hours-long strategy session between AMI’s chief content officer Dylan Howard and Weinstein.

Howard came to that meeting with a trove of information about NBC in dossiers, and in the end Weinstein chose to use Lauer to kill the story according to Farrow. 

‘Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it,’ writes Farrow in his book. 

AMI does not deny this relationship with Weinstein, and has stated previously that any work done of his behalf took place before any allegations of sexual misconduct became public. 

‘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,’ said a spokesperson for the network. 

‘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. NBC meanwhile scoffed at Farrow’s claim that a tabloid’s threat would be powerful enough to shut down a project at the network.’

Ron-on: Farrow says that his boyfriend Jon Lovett was a constant source of support as he navigated his future post-NBC

Ron-on: Farrow says that his boyfriend Jon Lovett was a constant source of support as he navigated his future post-NBC


Weinstein’s lawyer tried to get Farrow to kill his own story with a letter referencing various members of his family, recalls the journalist. 

In that letter, Charles Harder ‘asserted Farrow’s motives were related to his sister Dylan’s assault allegations against their father, Woody Allen. 

Harder wrote: ‘Mr. Farrow is entitled to his private anger.’

He then made reference to Farrow’s uncle, who is in jail for sexually abusing two boys. 

‘We have yet to find any evidence that Ronan Farrow has publicly denounced his uncle, and he might have publicly supported him,’ wrote Harder.

Uncle: John Villiers-Farrow was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of two young boys

Uncle: John Villiers-Farrow was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of two young boys

Farrow says that he has never met his uncle.

John Villiers-Farrow was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of two young boys over an eight-year period 

The first victim moved near to Villiers-Farrow’s home when he was six-years-old, and came to know the family because they had a son who was a few years younger than him.

The victim spent a lot of time at the family’s home and Villiers-Farrow would buy him gifts, take him to baseball games and on other trips, the arrest document states.

In the same time period, a second boy who was friends with the first victim, was abused about a dozen times over five years, Deputy State Attorney Kathleen Rogers said.

The victims told police that he would show them pornographic movies. The encounters escalated to touching and then to oral sex.

Villiers-Farrow’s wife has stood by her husband since he was arrested and called the victims – who are now 20-years-old – ‘vipers’.

At the height of all this, Farrow lost his job with NBC, but he says that his boyfriend Jon Lovett was a constant source of support as he navigated his future.

‘I’ll take care of you, baby. I’ll keep you in finery and smoothies,’ Farrow recalled Lovett telling him at one point. 

Rose off the bloom: Lisa Bloom worked with Harvey Weinstein (in October 2017 outside his office just five minutes after the Times story was published online) for a year prior to the publication of the two exposes that brought him down in The New York Times and New Yorker

Rose off the bloom: Lisa Bloom worked with Harvey Weinstein (in October 2017 outside his office just five minutes after the Times story was published online) for a year prior to the publication of the two exposes that brought him down in The New York Times and New Yorker


The daughter of famed attorney Gloria Allred had befriend Farrow and been talking to him for months before revealing she was working for Weinstein. 

Farrow believed that Blook had exposed his reporting at the time, not realizing the situation was actually much worse. 

‘Lisa, you swore, as an attorney and a friend, that you wouldn’t tell his people,’ Farrow recalls saying to Bloom.

‘Ronan,  I am his people,’ said Bloom.

‘I thought of her calls and texts and voicemails pressing me for information, dangling clients,’ writes Farrow.

‘Bloom told me Weinstein had optioned her book, that she’d been in an awkward position. “Ronan, you need to come in. I can help. I can talk to David [Boies] and Harvey. I can make this easier for you.’

Farrow says that he told her the conversation was not appropriate, and ended his relationship with Bloom.    

She tweeted when that story broke, saying: ‘Attorneys must maintain confidentiality even when awful, untrue things are said about us. Welp, I did sign up for this.’

At the time, Bloom had already managed to get New York to kill a piece about Weinstein which had been scheduled to run in late 2016, around the time she first learned about the mogul’s alleged sexual misconduct.

In the email, sent after her first meeting with Weinstein, Bloom outlined a number of tactics for how to take on these stories, including how he could start a foundation in honor of his recently deceased mother and elicit sympathy ahead of publication.

She also said that he should emulate Charlie Sheen in getting out there first with his story, like Sheen did after his HIV diagnosis was set to break in the press. 

‘You should be the hero of the story, not the villain. This is very doable,’ said Bloom in the email, which was obtained by Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. 

She also detailed an aggressive plan to take down Rose McGowan, calling her a ‘pathological liar’ and dangerous.

The most damning line however was about victims of sex crimes, which at the time constituted almost her entire client list.

‘I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them,’ wrote Bloom. 

‘They start out as impressive, bold women, but the more one presses for evidence, the weaknesses and lies are revealed.’


After Farrow’s report on Weinstein ran in the New Yorker, Lauer texted the journalist, writing:  ‘Ronan, it’s Matt Lauer. Let me be the 567th person to say congratulations on an amazing piece!’


Farrow takes aim at lack in the book by dragging up stories from his past, including his affair with a CBS anchor Jane Wallace.

It is an affair that Wallace has been open about and Lack has denied and declined to speak about, though those who worked with the two on the show West 57th are clear that the two were involved in a relationship. 

‘Andy was giving her the lead pieces,’ recalled Meredith Vieira in a 1992 interview in the Sun Sentinel. 

‘There was a lot of resentment. She affected a lot of lives.’

West 57th was described as ’60 Minutes for the MTV crowd,’ and in fact there was a good degree of Real-World-like drama happening backstage. 

‘Jane claimed her work load was ruining her personal life, but that she couldn’t say no to her bosses because she was afraid she’d be bypassed,’ said co-host Bob Sirott in that interview. 

‘By then, there were a lot of shouting matches with Andy. I thought they were work-oriented, but they must have been personal. Jane was self-destructing. She had a martyr complex.’

And a co-worker on the program noted: ‘When her romance with Lack went sour, Jane flipped out. She became vindictive. She did outrageous things. She threatened to leave the show if her demands weren’t met. She tried to destroy Lack, and in the end destroyed herself.’

None of that makes it into Farrow’s book. 


Farrow claims that Oppenheim was afraid to burn bridges with Weinstein due to his budding career as a screenwriter, and that was why he worked to kill the story.

This all happened as his screenplay for the film Jackie was being met with great acclaim and talks of possible awards. 

Farrow writes that Oppenheim was particularly concerned to learn that Weinstein had distributed one of his father’s films, which he felt added weight to the claim that this was all being done in revenge for his sister Dylan’s alleged assault.

Variety reports that when Oppenheim learned this fact, he summoned Farrow and said: ‘I’d be happier if he found video of you f***ing in a bathroom or something.’

This all left Farrow feeling like the network was quietly trying to kill his story, a claim that Oppenheim strongly denied in a statement.

‘All we’ve asked of Ronan is that he tell the truth – that when he left NBC he did not have a single victim or witness to misconduct by Weinstein willing to go on the record and that is why a large circle of his colleagues, including the head of the investigative unit and two of the most seasoned investigative reporters in the newsroom, all agreed that he did not yet have a story that was ready for air,’ explained Oppenheim. 

It was also stated by multiple NBC employees that farrow refused requests to expand his team with editors and reporters working for NBC. 


Farrow's book makes new allegations about how NBC Chairman Andrew Lack handled the Weinstein scandal and his attempts to report on it

Farrow’s book makes new allegations about how NBC Chairman Andrew Lack handled the Weinstein scandal and his attempts to report on it

Dear Colleagues,

This morning, reporting around Ronan Farrow’s new book revealed deeply disturbing details related to the incident that led to Matt Lauer’s termination from NBC. I want to take a moment to communicate with you about this.

First, and most importantly, in reading today’s news our hearts go out to our former colleague.

Matt Lauer’s conduct in 2014 was appalling and reprehensible – and of course we said so at the time. The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours. Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive.

Following Lauer’s firing, NBCU’s legal team did an exhaustive investigation of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff. They uncovered no claims or settlements associated with allegations of inappropriate conduct by Lauer before he was fired. Only following his termination did NBCU reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time, and those women have always been free to share their stories about Lauer with anyone they choose.

Today, some have questioned why we used the term “sexual misconduct” to describe the reason for Lauer’s firing in the days following. We chose those words carefully to precisely mirror the public words at that time of the attorney representing our former NBC colleague.

In the past two years we have taken significant steps to improve our culture and ensure we have a workplace where everyone feels safe and respected, as well as protected in raising claims. Since then, we’ve required all NBC News employees to complete in-person workplace behavior trainings and we’ve significantly increased awareness of the ways employees can report concerns – anonymously or otherwise.

In addition to his reporting on Lauer, Farrow’s new book also includes his telling of the NBC News investigation of Harvey Weinstein.

As you know, our news organization is filled with dedicated, professional journalists, including some of the best and most experienced investigative reporters, as well as others who support our reporting with exceptional talent, integrity and decency. It disappoints me to say that even with passage of time, Farrow’s account has become neither more accurate, nor more respectful of the dedicated colleagues he worked with here at NBC News. He uses a variety of tactics to paint a fundamentally untrue picture.

Here are the essential and indisputable facts: NBC News assigned the Harvey Weinstein story to Ronan, we completely supported it over many months with resources – both financial and editorial. After seven months, without one victim or witness on the record, he simply didn’t have a story that met our standard for broadcast nor that of any major news organization. Not willing to accept that standard and not wanting to get beaten by the New York Times, he asked to take his story to an outlet he claimed was ready to publish right away. Reluctantly, we allowed him to go ahead. Fifty-three days later, and five days after the New York Times did indeed break the story, he published an article at the New Yorker that bore little resemblance to the reporting he had while at NBC News.

Let me remind you of who we really are. Our journalists have been at the forefront of blockbuster investigations into sexual harassment and abuse on many stories – many pre-dating Weinstein – including USA Gymnastics, Silicon Valley, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein, and more. To get across the finish line on big stories like these takes exceptional work, collaboration, patience, and a commitment to a set of standards and practices that ultimately lends our work great credibility.

If you have any questions about the journalistic decisions that were made, please don’t hesitate to ask. Similarly, should you have any questions about the decisions surrounding Matt Lauer’s termination, please do exactly what we all do best here, ask the tough questions.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness and consideration.

As ever,





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