Ronan Farrow on Harvey Weinstein Story: ‘I Was Threatened With a Lawsuit’

Ronan Farrow didn’t break the first story of shocking allegations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, but his New Yorker piece published Tuesday has added a new sordid dimension to the scandal. Farrow discussed his story Tuesday evening on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and there’s good reason: He started the story under NBC’s auspices.

Asked why the story ran in the New Yorker rather than on NBC, Farrow told Maddow, “You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details.”

“I will say that over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so,” he continued. “There are now reports emerging about the kind of pressure news organizations have faced. That is real. And in the course of this reporting, I was threatened with a lawsuit personally by Mr. Weinstein.”

He also challenged NBC’s statement that the version of the story they saw wasn’t publishable. “I walked into the door at the New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public,” he said. “Immediately the New Yorker recognized that and it was not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations at NBC that it was reportable.”

Farrow, who joined NBCUniversal in 2014 as a host on MSNBC, currently works as a freelancer for NBC News, and had been investigating sexual-harassment allegations against Weinstein for ten months. But when he brought early reporting on the subject to NBC News executives, “he didn’t have one accuser willing to go on the record or identify themselves,” according to one person familiar with the situation. The New Yorker story is”radically different” from the material that was brought to NBC News, this person said.

Another person familiar with the process, however, suggested Farrow did have strong material. This person said three women were named in Farrow’s reporting for NBC News. This person did not speculate as to why the story did not move forward at NBC News.

Farrow’s New Yorker piece includes harrowing descriptions of Weinstein’s behavior from women including Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino. Weinstein was fired by the board of the Weinstein Company on Sunday, in the wake of allegations revealed in the New York Times that he had been harassing women for many years.

Ronan Farrow, who is the son of Mia Farrow and is estranged from his father Woody Allen, has gone on record supporting his sister Dylan Farrow’s accusations of improper behavior by their father.

Farrow asked NBC News if he could bring his work to a print outlet, this person said, thinking that sources might be more willing to cooperate if they did not have to go on camera. NBC News agreed, according to the source, with the understanding that if he got the story published he would come back and talk about it for NBC outlets.  But he’s also appearing elsewhere: Farrow is doing a segment with ABC News’ Juju Chang on tonight’s broadcast of ABC’s “Nightline.”

UPDATED 6:50pm

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