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Three years after Ronan Farrow’s investigative journalism effectively ruined his life and career, disgraced former NBC host Matt Lauer is back with a vengeance.
In a nearly 5,000-word op-ed published at Mediate on Tuesday, two days after The New York Times published its own hit piece scrutinizing Farrow’s award-winning #MeToo journalism, Lauer aimed straight for the jugular, deriding Farrow as a “manipulative” hack who maliciously used “shoddy journalism” and deceit to sell books.
“On October 9, 2019, I was falsely accused of rape,” he wrote, referencing the day Ronan’s findings about him began to go viral. “The allegation came from Brooke Nevils, the same woman whose complaint resulted in my termination at NBC.”
“It was made public as part of the promotional rollout for a new book by Ronan Farrow. This accusation was one of the worst and most consequential things to ever happen in my life, it was devastating for my family, and outrageously it was used to sell books.”
Except according to Lauer, Nevils’ original complaint filed in 2017 never contained the words “assault” or “rape,” meaning that the claims trotted out by Farrow on Oct. 9 of 2019 were just as fraudulent as the “gang rape” claims trotted out by him a year later against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:
Man I remember that, that’s also the day Ronan Farrow’s credibility among anyone right leaning died.
Everyone was sweating that story, “Oh shit, Ronan has it, must be something there.”
Even Julia Swetnick admitted she lied on Michael Avenatti’s behalf. https://t.co/Pya40ZDmLl
— By the Book Cernovich (@Cernovich) May 17, 2020
“At no time did Brooke Nevils ever use the words ‘assault’ or ‘rape’ in regards to any accusation against me while filing her complaint with NBC in November of 2017,” Lauer continued.
“That has been confirmed publicly. NBC never suggested I was being accused of such an offense when I met with their attorney on Nov. 28 of that same year. They have also confirmed that publicly.”
Nevertheless, the media rushed to believe Farrow’s reporting at the time, never mind the long-standing principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.
“I was also disappointed, but not surprised, that Ronan Farrow’s overall reporting faced so little scrutiny,” Lauer added. “Until this week’s critical reporting by The New York Times, many in the media perceived his work as inherently beyond basic questioning.”
“However, he was hardly an unbiased journalist when it came to anything to do with NBC, and he was rarely challenged as he dropped salacious stories in a daily marketing effort designed to create media attention for his book.”
Measuring nearly 4,000 words long, the Times’ blockbuster piece by Ben Smith exposed a litany of problems and holes in Farrow’s previously unvarnished reporting, including his reporting on Lauer.
For instance, Smith reportedly alleged “that Farrow failed to contact a key corroborating witness for an allegation against” Lauer.
“In ‘Catch and Kill,’ Farrow recounts one of Lauer’s accusers tearfully telling a co-worker at NBC News about Lauer assaulting her,” Rolling Stone magazine noted in a summary of the piece, referencing the book published by Farrow last year that contained the allegations against Lauer.
“But Smith says that the witness was never contacted by Farrow or by the fact-checker for ‘Catch and Kill,’ and that when Farrow spoke to the witness directly, he did not remember the scene as described in the book.”
Even Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein was reportedly flawed.
So now we find out that the very first allegation against Weinstein reported on by Ronan Farrow — which set off the entire “MeToo” furor — fell apart upon scrutiny, with one of the alleged “corroborators” admitting to police that she was told the encounter was consensual!
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 18, 2020
“Smith also takes issue with Farrow’s depiction of himself in ‘Catch and Kill’ as a victim of NBC News attempting to bury the Weinstein story,” Rolling Stone noted. “The book suggests that Weinstein essentially blackmailed the network into burying the story about him in exchange for suppressing information about Lauer.”
“In response to this claim, the network has maintained that Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein was simply not well-sourced enough to pass muster, an allegation Farrow has refuted but which Smith’s reporting supports, citing an NBC employee who shared with him a copy of Farrow’s script for the Weinstein story that did not have any on-the-record, on-camera interviews.”
To hear Lauer tell it, these findings concerning Farrow’s reporting prove he’s the real victim — one whose life was railroaded so that Farrow could bathe in the limelight.
“I believe Ronan knew his work on ‘Catch and Kill’ would receive little in the way of scrutiny, from the very beginning,” he alleged. “It’s the only way to explain why he was so willing to abandon common sense and true fact checking in favor of salacious, and deeply flawed, material.”
“I’m sure he also understood that some people he referenced even indirectly in his book, who might completely contradict his version of events, would be too intimidated to step forward and correct the record. Ronan knows, as well as anyone, that there is a great deal of fear surrounding this subject, and it would take an act of selfless bravery (some might say foolishness) for anyone to challenge him, or the story of an alleged victim of sexual assault.”
Does Lauer have a point? According to his critics, including Farrow, the answer is a resounding no:
All I’ll say on this is that Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself.
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) May 19, 2020
Matt Lauer raped my friend @BrookeNevils and is now trying to rewrite history. He should never have been given a platform to try and make people see him as something other than what he is: a rapist pic.twitter.com/0nKSBUaN6A
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) May 19, 2020
I want to be polite about this but also very, very clear: Matt Lauer is like if a piece of poop threw up and then the throw up pooped and threw up and then someone made a soup of that, put it in a butt, and then that butt threw up.
— Wendy Molyneux (@WendyMolyneux) May 20, 2020
Can someone tell Matt Lauer we’re a little busy at the moment. We’ll have to take a raincheck on his piss-poor rape rebuttal.
— Susie Meister (@susie_meister) May 19, 2020
If only there were some kind of button I could push to shut the door on Matt Lauer when he started to fuss and beg and protest.
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) May 19, 2020
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