Ronan Farrow says his Harvey Weinstein investigation could have aired on NBC

Ronan Farrow is at odds with NBC News over why the network did not break his explosive investigation on alleged sexual assault and harassment by disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein that ran in The New Yorker.

Farrow, who has a non-exclusive arrangement with NBC News, wrote the results of his 10-month probe into Weinstein’s behavior for the New Yorker because the network did not believe it met the reporting standard necessary to put it on the air. But during a Tuesday appearance on NBC’s cable news channel MSNBC, Farrow said he believed the story could have been broadcast.

NBC News has maintained that the final result of Farrow’s reporting, which included three women on the record describing alleged sexual assaults by Weinstein, is “radically different” than the early version he brought to the network. Farrow did not have any subjects speaking on the record when he first presented the story, according to an executive familiar the discussions speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The executive said Farrow asked if he could bring the story to a print outlet, presumably because sources might be more willing to cooperate if they did not have to go on camera. NBC News agreed with the understanding that if Farrow got the story published he would come back and talk about it on the air.

But Farrow appeared to contradict that account when asked about it on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday.

Maddow had said to Farrow: “NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable, that it wasn’t ready to go at the time that you brought it to them.”

Farrow replied: “I walked into the door at the New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, the New Yorker recognized that. And it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC.”

Farrow had a daily program on MSNBC from 2014 to 2015. He has continued to do reporting for NBC News, but is no longer under contract.

NBC News President Noah Oppenheim defended his division’s handling of the story during a meeting with staffers on Wednesday.

“We reached a point over the summer, where as an organization, we didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it,” Oppenheim said in his remarks that were provided by NBC News. “Ronan very understandably wanted to keep forging ahead, so, we didn’t want to stand in his way and he took it to the New Yorker and did a ton more extraordinary work. He greatly expanded the scope of his reporting. Suffice to say, the stunning story...was not the story that we were looking at when we made our judgment several months ago. But we couldn’t be prouder of him, and I think all you need to know about our feeling about the importance of the story is that we have been putting him on our air throughout the day yesterday, and this morning, ever since.”

Oppenheim said the network had launched Farrow on the story and provided him with the resources to report it “for many, many months.”

Farrow’s version of the matter has raised questions as to whether NBC was subjected to any pressure by Weinstein to suppress the reporting. Weinstein made a number of movies for the network’s sister company Universal Pictures, and had co-produced the reality series “Project Runway” for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network Bravo before it moved to Lifetime.

Weinstein is said to have been aggressive in using his connections to shut down journalistic inquiries into his behavior with women, which were widely rumored and even openly joked about in show business circles.

“I’m not going to comment on any news organization about any story that they did or didn’t run,” Farrow told Maddow. “I will say that over many years, many news organizations circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so.”

Farrow’s reporting on the coast-to-coast sex scandal included an NYPD audio surveillance tape of him attempting to coax model Ambra Gutierrez in a hotel room. The sting was set up after Gutierrez told police that Weinstein had groped her. The Manhattan district attorney decided against charging the executive and Gutierrez reached a settlement with Weinstein, according to reports.

Weinstein, who previously apologized for some of his behavior, denied the rape claims alleged in the New Yorker. “Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” a representative said in a statement, adding that “Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


UPDATES:

1:20 p.m.: This article was updated with remarks by NBC News president Noah Oppenheim.

This article was originally published at 11:55 a.m.

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