NBC & ABC Tout Laughable Lauer ‘Fact-Check’ of Rape Claims

 NBC & ABC Tout Laughable Lauer ‘Fact-Check’ of Rape Claims

It’s funny how liberal journalists suddenly warn of media bias when they are the ones facing press scrutiny. That hypocrisy was on full display Tuesday, when Mediaite decided to publish an op-ed from disgraced former Today show host Matt Lauer, who portrayed himself as a victim of “shoddy journalism.” On Wednesday, both NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America seized on the article, framing it as Lauer’s “fact-check” of rape allegations against himself.

“This morning, former Today show anchor Matt Lauer is speaking out about what he calls flawed reporting by Ronan Farrow,” co-host Savannah Guthrie announced on the Today show. She described it this way: “Lauer presenting his own fact-check on Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, as the best-selling author and former NBC News reporter [Farrow] comes under new scrutiny in a New York Times report this week.”

So in this scenario, Lauer is playing the role of investigative journalist and Farrow is the one “under new scrutiny.”

In the report that followed, correspondent Stephanie Gosk touted Lauer being on offense:

Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill has sold millions. Now, seven months after it’s release, one of his targets, former Today show host Matt Lauer, is firing back, launching an attack on Farrow’s reporting in an op-ed published on the website Mediaite. Among Lauer’s accusations, “Farrow abandoned common sense and true fact-checking in favor of salacious and deeply flawed, material.” He also says Farrow “failed to confirm stories” and “used misleading language to manipulate readers.”

“In Catch and Kill, Brooke Nevils, the woman who’s allegations led to Lauer’s firing, publicly accused him of raping her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics,” Gosk reminded viewers. She then noted Lauer complaining that “Farrow took his accusers at their word and says he tracked down four people the author never interviewed.” Gosk added: “Their accounts, according to Lauer, cast doubt on some of the book’s claims.”

The reporter did highlight responses to Lauer from both Farrow and Nevils:

In a statement to NBC News, Farrow writes, “We called dozens of corroborators around the Lauer allegations described in the book, and more than a dozen around Brooke Nevils specifically.” Nevils tweeting her response, an acronym for how abusers sometimes respond to accusations, “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.”

However, Gosk then concluded the report by touting more of Lauer’s screed: “For Lauer’s part, he says, ‘The examples of shoddy journalism I’ve explored here are the tip of the iceberg.’”

Gosk also oddly mentioned that “NBC News has offered no comment on the Lauer piece,” as if NBC News was somehow a separate entity and not her employer. She also ignored the obvious fact that NBC clearly believed the allegations against Lauer were credible when the network fired him in 2017.

“In a nearly 5,000-word article, the former NBC anchor dissects Farrow’s reporting on his sexual misconduct, with new details that call into question some of the most explosive allegations,” co-host George Stephanopoulos announced on ABC’s Good Morning America. Correspondent Eva Pilgrim followed:

This morning, former Today show anchor Matt Lauer is taking aim at Ronan Farrow and the journalist’s best-selling book, Catch and Kill, which details allegations of sexual misconduct made against Lauer while at NBC News. Lauer, who was fired from NBC in 2017 for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, now writing a lengthy op-ed published on the website Mediate, claiming Farrow published allegations against him without proper fact checking and verification.

She further declared: “Using excerpts from Catch and Kill, Lauer challenges Farrow’s reporting on the rape allegation from former Today show producer Brooke Nevils.”

Later in the report, Pilgrim emphasized Lauer’s media bias claims: “Ultimately, Lauer accuses Farrow of ‘acting as Brooke’s advocate, not as a journalist investigating her claims. He is breaking a cardinal rule of journalism: he has come to a self-serving conclusion first, and then he sees everything through the prism of that assumption.’”

Just weeks before NBC fired him, Lauer applauded Farrow’s MeToo journalism. During an October 11, 2017 interview with Farrow on the Today show, Lauer hailed the reporter’s work exposing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Appearing on GMA in October 2019, Farrow accused NBC of trying to kill the Weinstein story.

Here is a full transcript of the May 20 segment on NBC’s Today show:

7:14 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: This morning, former Today show anchor Matt Lauer is speaking out about what he calls flawed reporting by Ronan Farrow. Lauer presenting his own fact-check on Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, as the best-selling author and former NBC News reporter comes under new scrutiny in a New York Times report this week. Here’s NBC’s Stephanie Gosk.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Matt Lauer Takes on Ronan Farrow; Questions Reporting in Wake of New York Times Critique]  

STEPHANIE GOSK: Ronan Farrow’s book Catch and Kill has sold millions. Now, seven months after it’s release, one of his targets, former Today show host Matt Lauer, is firing back, launching an attack on Farrow’s reporting in an op-ed published on the website Mediaite. Among Lauer’s accusations, “Farrow abandoned common sense and true fact-checking in favor of salacious and deeply flawed, material.” He also says Farrow “failed to confirm stories” and “used misleading language to manipulate readers.”

Catch and Kill accuses NBC News and NBC Universal of ignoring sexual harassment allegations against prominent men in the company, including Lauer, for years. And of deliberately burying Farrow’s story on Harvey Weinstein to protect Lauer. NBC Universal has repeatedly denied both allegations.

In Catch and Kill, Brooke Nevils, the woman who’s allegations led to Lauer’s firing, publicly accused him of raping her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer, who says the two had a consensual affair, again vigorously denied the rape allegation. He says Nevils didn’t “ever use the words ‘assault’ or ‘rape’” when she brought her claim to NBC in 2017.

Lauer says Farrow took his accusers at their word and says he tracked down four people the author never interviewed. Their accounts, according to Lauer, cast doubt on some of the book’s claims. In the book, Farrow writes that Nevils informed her former boss at Peacock Productions about Lauer, but Lauer says that supervisor was never contacted by Farrow. And another woman who ran the company at the time told Lauer, Nevils “In no way, conveyed ‘the seriousness’ of what she now claims. There was never a mention of assault or rape.”

In a statement to NBC News, Farrow writes, “We called dozens of corroborators around the Lauer allegations described in the book, and more than a dozen around Brooke Nevils specifically.” Nevils tweeting her response, an acronym for how abusers sometimes respond to accusations, “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.”

Lauer says he wanted to publish his article last fall, after the book’s release, but held it for personal reasons. The former morning show host says a recent article in The New York Times critical of Ronan Farrow’s reporting prompted him to release it now. Among the criticisms in the Times article, that Farrow “does not always follow the typical journalistic imperatives of corroboration and rigorous disclosure, or he suggests conspiracies that are tantalizing but he cannot prove.”

In a statement to the Times, Farrow says he brings “caution, rigor, and nuance” to each of his stories. This morning, the publisher of Catch and Kill is standing by the book, writing in part, “His commitment to the rights of victims and his impeccable attention to detail make us proud to be his publisher.”

NBC News has offered no comment on the Lauer piece. For Lauer’s part, he says, “The examples of shoddy journalism I’ve explored here are the tip of the iceberg.” For Today, Stephanie Gosk, New York.

Here is a full transcript of the segment on ABC’s GMA:

7:31 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to begin this half hour with Matt Lauer. He’s taking on Ronan Farrow. In a nearly 5,000-word article, the former NBC anchor dissects Farrow’s reporting on his sexual misconduct, with new details that call into question some of the most explosive allegations. Farrow is responding this morning and Eva Pilgrim is here with the details. Good morning, Eva.

EVA PILGRIM: Good morning, George. Yeah, Matt Lauer admits that he had an inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee but he denies that he raped anyone. Now on the defensive.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Matt Lauer Fires Back; Former Anchor Blasts Ronan Farrow Over Allegations in Book]

This morning, former Today show anchor Matt Lauer is taking aim at Ronan Farrow and the journalist’s best-selling book, Catch and Kill, which details allegations of sexual misconduct made against Lauer while at NBC News. Lauer, who was fired from NBC in 2017 for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, now writing a lengthy op-ed published on the website Mediate, claiming Farrow published allegations against him without proper fact checking and verification.

Using excerpts from Catch and Kill, Lauer challenges Farrow’s reporting on the rape allegation from former Today show producer Brooke Nevils, who has publically stated that Lauer sexually assaulted her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer says the two did have an ongoing consensual affair, but writes, “At no time did Brooke Nevils ever use the words ‘assault’ or ‘rape’ in regards to any accusation against me.” He goes on to say, “Ronan suggests that Brooke Nevils’ accusations against me are valid, because he writes, ‘Nevils told ‘like a million people’ about Lauer. Did Ronan quote even one of those ‘million people’ in his book? He did not.”

RONAN FARROW: Brooke Nevils’ claims checked out. NBC felt they checked out and they fired him over it.

PILGRIM: Lauer goes on to challenge Farrow’s reporting that Lauer allegedly assaulted Nevils in a dressing room while at work. Farrow writes, “Crying, she ran to the new guy she’d started seeing, a producer working in the control room that morning, and told him what had happened.” Lauer claims he tracked down and spoke to the new guy himself: “He told me that Brooke did not come crying to see him.”

Ultimately, Lauer accuses Farrow of “acting as Brooke’s advocate, not as a journalist investigating her claims. He is breaking a cardinal rule of journalism: he has come to a self-serving conclusion first, and then he sees everything through the prism of that assumption.”

Lauer also criticizes Farrow’s sourcing. Ann Curry, who was Lauer’s former co-anchor and is depicted in Catch and Kill as knowing about a separate incident involving Lauer and a different Today show staffer. Lauer says Curry was bitter because she “believed I had a major role in having her removed from our show in 2012.”

NORAH O’DONNELL [CBS THIS MORNING]: Do you believe that Matt Lauer abused his power?

ANN CURRY: I can tell you that I – I am not surprised by the allegations.

PILGRIM: Lauer writes, “Ann tells Ronan that she approached two senior executives at NBC about a ‘problem’ with me, but admits that she never told anyone at the network about any specific incident or accuser. Ronan never names either of those executives at NBC, nor does Ronan offer confirmation or quotes from either.”

Lauer says he was motivated to publish his side of the story after a recent New York Times article critiqued Farrow’s investigative work, claiming that until now, “many in the media perceived Farrow’s work as inherently beyond basic questioning.” Lauer claims “basic journalistic standards were ignored because of a desire to sell books” and challenges a comment Farrow made about his process in an interview on GMA.

STEPHANOPOULOS [OCTOBER 11, 2019]: So if he or his allies were to say that you didn’t fact check those claims – 

FARROW: Extensively fact-checked, as with everything in this book.

PILGRIM: Farrow continuing to stand by his reporting, tweeting, “Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself.” And telling ABC News, “We called dozens of corroborators around the Lauer allegations described in the book, and more than a dozen around Brooke Nevils’ specifically.”

And we reached out to NBC, Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow, Brooke Nevils and Ann Curry, they all declined our request to be interviewed for this story. Michael?  

MICHAEL STRAHAN: Alright, thank you for that, Eva.