Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill” tells his research on Harvey Weinstein; the obstacles that his then employer NBC News put on his way, causing him to publish the story in the New Yorker instead; and how Weinstein hires Black Cube, a research agency that employs former Mossad officers to stop him.
But Farrow’s most explosive interview in the book is with Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee whose complaint about Matt Lauer led to the resignation of the co-anchor of the ‘Today’ show in 2017.
At the time, NBC News kept Nevils’ identity anonymous on the basis of press releases at its request. The full details of her allegations have not been made public to date.
In the book, obtained by Variety, Nevils claims that Lauer raped her anally in his hotel room during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
A Lauer representative did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment. NBC News declined to comment.
In Sochi, Nevils was given the task of working with former “Today” fellow anchor Meredith Vieira, who had been brought back to the show to report on the Olympics. In her account, one evening during a drink with Vieira in the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they met Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who had had six shots of vodka, went twice to Lauer’s hotel room – once to fetch her press references, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils, Farrow writes, “had no reason to suspect that Lauer would be anything but friendly based on previous experiences.”
Once in her hotel room, Nevils claims that Lauer – who wore a T-shirt and boxers – pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, “knocked her over and asked if she liked anal sex,” Farrow writes. “She said she refused several times.”
According to Nevils, she was right in the middle of telling him that she was no longer interested when he “just did it,” Farrow writes. “Lauer, she said, did not use any lubricant. The meeting was painfully painful.” It hurt so much. I remember thinking: is this normal? “She told me she stopped saying no, but gently in a kisses cried. “Lauer asked her if she liked it. She says yes. She claims that” she bled for days, “Farrow writes.
Nevils tells Farrow: “It was unconscious in the sense that I was too drunk to give permission,” she says. “It wasn’t conscious because I said several times that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Back in New York City, Nevils had more sexual encounters with Lauer. “Sources near Lauer emphasized that they sometimes made contact,” Farrow writes. “What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like some of the women I had spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man who, according to her, had attacked her.” This is what I blame myself most about “she says to Farrow.” It was completely transactional. It wasn’t a relationship. “
She was terrified of Lauer’s control over her career. After her encounters with Lauer ended, Nevils said she told “like a million people” about her situation with Lauer.
“She told colleagues and superiors at NBC,” Farrow writes. She moved to NBC’s Peacock Productions to become a producer, “and reported it to one of her new bosses there.”
“This was no secret,” Farrow writes.
Nothing happened until fall 2017, when the post-Harvey Weinstein settlement led former ‘Today’ colleagues to ask her about Lauer. Nevils told Farrow that she then went to Vieira and told her what had happened. A distraught Vieira, according to the book, urged Nevils to go to NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer, which she did. After Lauer’s resignation, she learned that Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, and Andrew Lack, the president of NBC News and MSNBC, “stressed that the incident had not been a” criminal “or” attack “- which she claims she should vomiting, Farrow writes.
“Nevil’s work life became torture,” said Farrow. “She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else and discuss the news, and all those colleagues who were loyal to Lauer doubted the claims and judgment about her.”
And although Nevil’s anonymity was promised by human resources, the lack of internal saying that the meeting in Sochi had limited the possibilities of complainants – and soon everyone knew it was Nevils. Although Nevils did not want any money, she went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid, Farrow writes, “seven figures.”
“The network suggested a script that she should read, suggesting she had left to make other efforts, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment,” Farrow writes.
The book also depicts NBC News executives as obstructive. While Farrow gathered his coverage of Weinstein, Oppenheim asked him: “Is this really worth it?” And suggested that nobody knows who Weinstein is. Farrow was finally told to stop reporting the story because it was reviewed by NBC Universal. “This is a decision by Steve Burke. It’s an Andy decision, “Farrow recalls Richard Greenberg, head of the NBC News research unit. Not believing that NBC would ever tell his story, he brought it to the New Yorker, where it was published in October 2017.
Sources at NBC News say they haven’t read the book yet, but they plan to defend the company’s decisions against Farrow claims.
“Catch and Kill” appears on October 15.
Cynthia Littleton and Mackenzie Nichols contributed to the report.