Matt Lauer unloads on Ronan Farrow's 'shoddy' journalism in new defense stirred by NYT takedown

Wednesday - 20/05/2020 07:37
AP / Matt Lauer
AP / Matt Lauer
Disgraced "Today" show" host Matt Lauer is finally defending himself on the record, by attacking media golden boy Ronan Farrow who helped bring him down.


In a lengthy attack published Tuesday and partly inspired by a takedown of Farrow in The New York Times on Sunday, Lauer unloaded on Farrow's allegedly "shoddy" journalism in his best-selling book "Catch and Kill," which among other bombshells highlighted an allegation that Lauer had raped a NBC colleague, Brooke Nevils.  

Lauer, 62, has firmly denied that allegation and does so again in his column in Mediaite. He was fired by NBC in 2017 after admitting to a consensual but inappropriate relationship with the colleague. 

Now Lauer is accusing the Pulitzer Prize-winning Farrow of being a sloppy and "manipulative" journalist, failing to fact-check his sources, failing to provide evidence for accusations against Lauer, using "misleading language to manipulate readers into believing things that could easily be false," and shaping his reporting to "suit his activist goals" instead of adhering to journalistic standards.
 

Matt Lauer in November 2017 on the set of the 'Today' show in New York.


"The examples of shoddy journalism I’ve explored here are the tip of the iceberg," Lauer wrote. "They are only some of the many instances I could have cited from the two chapters of this book about me. Maybe others will now begin to ask more questions about the 57 chapters of this book I haven’t touched on here."

On Tuesday Farrow defended himself. “We called dozens of corroborators around the Lauer allegations described in the book, and more than a dozen around Brooke Nevils specifically," he said to USA TODAY in a statement.

Farrow also tweeted: "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."

His publisher, Little Brown, also issued a statement of support for Farrow and his book.
 

 

Lauer continued, saying Farrow had well-known "negative" feelings about NBC, with whom he parted ways on bad terms in 2017.

"It would be hard for anyone to argue that, when Ronan set out to write his book, he was even close to objective or unbiased when it came to NBC," Lauer wrote,noting his dismay that on his book tour, "he was rarely challenged as he dropped salacious stories in a daily marketing effort designed to create media attention for his book."

The most egregious Farrow sin, according to Lauer, was highlighting in the book an accusation by a former colleague that Lauer had raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a toxic claim that remains unproven. Lauer believes Farrow and his publisher used it to hype sales of the book. 

"It was made public as part of the promotional rollout for (the book)," Lauer wrote. "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."

Lauer wrote that he was not surprised that few were willing to challenge the accusations against him or the woman who made them. He highlights at least two of the woman's claims that he found were not corroborated by Farrow or his publisher.

"The rush to judgment was swift," Lauer wrote. "While the presumption of innocence is only guaranteed in a court of law, I felt journalists should have, at the very least, recognized and considered it."

Lauer has said almost nothing in public since he was fired, except for sitting down for an off-the-record interview by a sympathetic journalist published in October in Mediaite, the online news site founded by Dan Abrams, ABC News' chief legal affairs commentator. 




Lauer said he actually planned to publish this anti-Farrow opus last November but held off due to "personal considerations at that time."  But this week, the New York Times' new media columnist, Ben Smith, published a piece that sharply called into question some of Farrow's "dangerous" journalistic methods in several stories, and not just those about Lauer.

"Is Ronan Farrow Too Good to be True?" the headline read. Yes, somewhat, Smith concluded. 

"His reporting can be misleading but he does not make things up," Smith wrote. "His work, though, reveals the weakness of a kind of resistance journalism that has thrived in the age of (President) Donald Trump: That if reporters swim ably along with the tides of social media and produce damaging reporting about public figures most disliked by the loudest voices, the old rules of fairness and open-mindedness can seem more like impediments than essential journalistic imperatives."

Farrow responded to the Times by standing by his reporting.

"The Times story prompted me to move forward with my own findings," Lauer wrote Tuesday.

More:Matt Lauer scandal: Former 'Today' staffer Zinone 'felt shame' over 'massive mistake'

Farrow, 32, has been lionized in the media world. The son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (Farrow has accused Allen of molesting his sister when she was a child, an allegation Allen denies), Farrow won his Pulitzer in 2018 for his reporting for The New Yorker on the sexual misconduct allegations that brought down Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein. (He shared the prize with The New York Times, which also published a blockbuster investigation of Weinstein in October 2017.) 

Farrow's investigation of Weinstein began while he was working for NBC. He quit when the network declined to run the story, citing inadequate on-camera sourcing. Farrow took it to the magazine where he published it after further reporting. 

More:Why women wait years to come forward about rape

More:NBC News chief Andy Lack out in corporate restructuring; Cesar Conde takes top job

Farrow's book also goes into detail about his belief that Weinstein "blackmailed" NBC to kill his story by threatening to expose the Lauer rape claim, an allegation that NBC and Weinstein deny. Weinstein has since been convicted of sex crimes in New York and is serving a 23-year sentence in an upstate prison.  

Lauer holds out little hope that Farrow will be "held accountable" for what the former "Today" host considers his journalistic misdeeds. 

"I doubt it. After all, the book tour is over," Lauer wrote. "By marketing standards, it was a smashing success. As a search for the truth, at least with regard to my story, it was not."

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 Keywords: Matt Lauer

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