Ronan Farrow Defends Matt Lauer's Accuser Brook Nevils: 'She Said No to a Physical Act'
By Rachel McRady
Ronan Farrow is speaking out.
After shocking excerpts from his upcoming book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, were released via Variety on Tuesday, the 31-year-old journalist appeared on Good Morning America to speak about the book and defend his findings. In the book, Brooke Nevils alleges Matt Lauer anally raped her when they were both working for NBC at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer has denied all allegations against him.
During Farrow's interview with George Stephanopoulos, he insisted that the book shares Lauer's "exact thinking" in addition to his accusers' accounts.
"The thinking of every person against whom a serious allegation is made is fully represented in the book. So there's nothing new there," Farrow said on Friday's GMA.
"Did you talk to Matt Lauer?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Again, I can't answer specific questions about that but I can say that Matt Lauer's thinking that's represented in this letter is in the book," Farrow replied, referring to Lauer's open letter statement. "And I think this young woman, this journalist, Brooke Nevils, presents what I found to be a persuasive response to that. The facts of her case, which are backed by documentation and eye witnesses, suggest that there was an encounter here that she has consistently described as non-consensual. And she says regardless of what happened before and after that and how he interpreted that, she said no to a physical act."
Farrow further insisted that he "extensively fact checked" every detail in his book. He also slammed NBC News, claiming the network hid settlements and non-disclosure agreements from several female employees prior to Lauer's 2017 firing.
"Years before, over a period of six to seven years -- a period in which NBC had previously denied any settlements -- there were seven non-disclosure agreements, multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer accusers," Farrow, a former NBC employee himself, alleged. "This is years before this incident occurred. And I spoke to senior executives who were told about those earlier incidents."
He also accused the network of purposefully stopping him from reporting on Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct prior to the disgraced Hollywood producer's New York Times and New Yorker exposes.
"The point is they ordered a hard stop to reporting" Farrow said. "They told me and a producer working on this that we should not take a single call. They told us to cancel interviews."
"Did they allow it because they were afraid information about Matt Lauer was going to get out?" Stephanopoulos inquired.
"That is what the extensive conversations, transcripts and documents presented in this book suggest," Farrow replied.
NBC previously released a statement stating, "Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague."
In a memo sent to NBC News and MSNBC staffers on Monday, Oct. 14, Noah Oppenheim the President of NBC News, wrote, "Matt Lauer's actions were abhorrent, and the anger and sadness he caused continue to this day. As we've said since the moment he was fired, his abuses should never have happened. Ronan Farrow's book takes that undeniable fact and twists it into a lie – alleging we were a 'company with a lot of secrets.' We have no secrets and nothing to hide."
After excerpts from Farrow's book were released, Lauer, a former NBC employee and Today co-host, penned a lengthy open letter attempting to discredit the claims against him. In the letter (which can be read in full here), Lauer calls Brooke Nevils' allegation "categorically false," adding that the claim in the book "ignores the facts, and defies common sense."
"I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period," Lauer wrote.
On Thursday, Nevils responded to Lauer's statement, telling ET, "I knew what kind of person Matt Lauer was when I made the decision to report him to NBC in November 2017, and I knew what kind of a person he was when I made the decision to tell my story to Ronan Farrow. In both of those cases, I asked that my allegations be thoroughly investigated, and that Matt be given the opportunity to defend himself. I provided dates, times, evidence of communications, and corroborating accounts. Both NBC and Farrow found me credible."
Nevils went on to call Lauer's open letter "a case study in victim blaming."
A representative for Farrow also released a statement in the wake of Lauer's open letter. "The stories about and comments from the brave women who spoke out for the book will be enough to refute anything he has to say," the rep told Deadline.
"I was deeply shocked and saddened by Matt Lauer's letter yesterday in response to Brooke's allegations of sexual assault," Zinone said in part. "The seeming lack of contrition, misstatements, and threatening tone is an attempt to manipulate and control the narrative for his own gain. He is determined to undermine and tarnish the reputation of the brave women who courageously come forward. This is precisely why so many don't."
For more from the unfolding allegations, watch the clip below: