[Editor’s Note: Since publishing the below story, Matt Lauer has issued a lengthy response denying the accusations. You can read his full response at Variety.]
When former NBC anchor Matt Lauer was fired from the network and his gig on “Today” in November 2017, a widely circulated memo from NBC brass owed the sacking to alleged “inappropriate sexual behavior” that had been reported by another NBC employee mere hours before. In the days that followed, more details were revealed about Lauer’s alleged misdeeds, running the gamut from gifting sex toys to colleagues to exposing himself to another staffer.
Yet the original complaint, which alleged that Lauer behaved inappropriately towards towards a fellow NBC employee in a sexual manner for several months, starting at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, remained mostly vague in the weeks that followed.
Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book “Catch and Kill,” which mostly focuses on his investigation of Harvey Weinstein, also includes new details about Lauer’s alleged misconduct, including an interview with Lauer’s original accuser herself. Variety reports that the “most explosive interview in the book is with Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee” whose complaint against Lauer was directly referred to in the original firing memo. Farrow’s interview with Nevils, however, paints a picture that goes far beyond acts of “inappropriate sexual behavior” and alleges that the network long knew about the complaints against Lauer.
Per Variety, in “Catch and Kill,” Nevils “alleges that at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room.” At the time, Nevils was working with former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira on Olympics coverage and, “one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who'd had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer's hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back.”
Nevils told Farrow that during the second visit to Lauer’s room, the former anchor “pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, ‘flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,’ Farrow wrote. ‘She said that she declined several times.'”
Farrow writes that Nevils repeatedly told Lauer that she was not interested and that he “just did it” and “the encounter was excruciatingly painful.” The former NBC employee told Farrow, “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent. It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn't want to have anal sex.”
After the alleged rape in Sochi, Nevils told Farrow she had more sexual encounters with Lauer. Farrow writes in the book, “What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I'd spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her.” Nevils told Farrow, “This is what I blame myself most for. It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
In the months that followed, Nevils alleged she told multiple people at NBC about what had happened with Lauer, despite being afraid of the control she perceived the high-powered NBC anchor had over her young career. Nevils told Farrow that there were no repercussions for Lauer, despite her repeated telling of the story, until the fall of 2017 when “the post-Harvey Weinstein reckoning led former ‘Today’ colleagues to ask her about Lauer.”
After telling a “distraught” Vieira about the incident, the former anchor encouraged Nevils to officially go to NBC Universal human resources with her allegations. Lauer was fired soon after. Variety adds that, “though Nevils had been promised anonymity by human resources, [chairman of NBC News and MSNBC Andrew] Lack saying internally that the encounter had happened at Sochi limited the possibilities of complainants — and soon, everyone knew it was Nevils.”
Nevils went on medical leave in 2018, and despite telling Farrow she was not interested in a payout, was given a seven figure deal to leave the network.
Variety also shares that sources at NBC News say they haven't read the book yet and they’ve not responded to the outlet’s request for comment, “but they plan to defend the company's decisions against Farrow's claims.”
You can read more over on Variety. Farrow’s book will be released on October 15.
Ronan Farrow has announced on social media he is cutting ties with Hachette, the publisher behind his high profile 2019 book “Catch and Kill.” Hachette imprint Grand Central Publishing announced this week it had picked up distribution rights to Woody Allen’s memoir “Apropos of Nothing” and would be releasing it in the U.S. on April 7. Ronan Farrow’s sister, Dylan, has accused Woody Allen of molesting her when she was a child. Dylan’s allegation against Allen resurfaced during the of the #MeToo movement. Ronan Farrow says he can no longer work with Hachette “in good conscience” after they acquired Allen’s memoir while they were still working together on the release of “Catch and Kill,” which just so happens to recount Farrow’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse.
“I was disappointed to learn through press reports that Hachette, my publisher, acquired Woody Allen’s memoir after other major publishers refused to do so and concealed the decision to me and its own employees while we were working on ‘Catch and Kill,’ a book about how powerful men, including Woody Allen, avoid accountability for sexual abuse,” Farrow writes in a statement. “Hachette did not fact check the Woody Allen book. My sister Dylan has never been contacted to respond to any denial or mischaracterization of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen, a credible allegation maintained for almost three decades, backed up by contemporaneous accounts and evidence.”
Farrow continues, “It’s wildly unprofessional in multiple obvious directions for Hachette to behave this way. But it also shows a lack of ethics and compassion for victims of sexual abuse, regardless of any personal connection or breach of trust here. I’ve encouraged Hachette, out of respect for its readers, authors, and reputation, to conduct a thorough fact check of Woody Allen’s account, in particular any claim that implies my sister is not telling the truth. I’ve also told Hachette that a publisher that would conduct itself in this way is one I can’t work with in good conscience.”
Ronan Farrow’s statement arrived hours after Dylan Farrow issued her own critical thoughts on Allen’s upcoming memoir, calling it “deeply unsettling” and an “utter betrayal” of Ronan Farrow’s work. Allen’s memoir could be one of two new works released in 2020 as the director has also wrapped production on his next film, “Rifkin's Festival.”