NBC killed my sex assault story after Farrow's Weinstein piece, author claims

Author and activist Sil Lai Abrams said she is “one of the many survivors that NBC silenced” and Ronan Farrow isn’t the only reporter to have a sexual misconduct bombshell shut down by NBC News.

“Incredibly, a year after NBC botched Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein, they had the audacity to do it again,” Abrams wrote in The Daily Beast in a powerful first-person account published Monday headlined, “It’s not just Ronan Farrow: NBC News killed my rape-allegation story too.”

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Abrams wrote that she initially “had no idea that NBC had a reputation for not breaking news about men accused of sexual assault” and therefore trusted NBC’s Joy Reid to report Abrams' rape and sexual assault allegations against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and "Extra" co-host A.J. Calloway.

Abrams had previously told The Hollywood Reporter that NBC refused to run her story, but elaborated on the experience in The Daily Beast because Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” has put a spotlight on the troubled Peacock Network. Farrow has alleged that NBC didn’t expose Weinstein as a sexual predator in part because the now-disgraced Hollywood mogul leveraged ex-NBC anchor Matt Lauer’s own sexual misconduct.

An attorney for Simmons pointed Fox News to previous statements he made denying allegations of “forced" sexual assault and harassment and statements from others that Simmons says support him. Simmons’ attorney also said the decision by some news organizations not to move forward with the story was appropriate.

“NBC put women’s lives at risk,” Abrams wrote. “This is one of the darkest of NBC’s sins.”

“NBC put women’s lives at risk. This is one of the darkest of NBC’s sins.”

— Sil Lai Abrams

As a result, damaging headlines about NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, his top deputy, Noah Oppenheim and MSNBC President Phil Griffin have come in quick succession. Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, has downplayed Farrow’s reporting, but the book’s release has put the scandal back in the national spotlight, adding pressure on NBCUniversal – but the network insists it won’t further investigate.

Linda Vester is among the powerful women in media who recently sent a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, and the company’s board, demanding an independent investigation into sexual misconduct at NBC. Vester said she knows and believes Abrams, whose Daily Beast column is the latest example of why parent company Comcast needs to step in.

Sil Lai Abrams says NBC News botched Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein and did the same thing to her. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

Sil Lai Abrams says NBC News botched Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein and did the same thing to her. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

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“The fact that NBC buried reporting on her being raped by music mogul Russell Simmons," Vester told Fox News, "is yet more proof that NBC is protecting powerful men — both inside and outside its news division — who harm women. Comcast, NBC’s parent company, needs to investigate immediately."

Abrams, who has accused Simmons of rape and Calloway of sexual assault, said NBC refused to run her story after the network ordered an “elaborate and bizarre vetting process.”

She said that Reid insisted she didn’t think NBC wouldn’t do “what it did to Ronan” and suppress “yet another story of alleged sexual assault.” Abrams said she even taped an on-camera interview with Reid that was scheduled to air on NBC in January 2018, but the network reversed its decision because “Simmons’ attorney had gone ballistic.”

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Abrams wrote that Reid told her there was ample evidence and NBC simply needed the “guts” to do the story.

“I provided legal documentation, hospital bills, and over a dozen corroborating witnesses. Still, they stonewalled,” Abrams wrote. “Two more months of back and forth over email would occur before it became clear that NBC had no intention of airing my interview.”

Abrams wrote that months later Reid told her to “take the story elsewhere” because NBC senior management stopped even responding to inquiries about the allegations.

“In my view, Noah Oppenheim’s recent assertion, 'We have no secrets and nothing to hide’ is a lie, and it practically dares other women and myself to start telling those secrets. Women are contacting reporters with their stories,” Vester told Fox News.

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According to Abrams, Reid told her to take her story elsewhere in April 2018 – the same month that the network stood by Reid as she admitted to writing homophobic slurs that she’d previously insisted were the work of diabolical hackers. Reid had even said she reported the hacking “crime” to the FBI but eventually confessed the old slurs did not appear to be the result of hacking and apologized profusely for comments she claimed not to remember making.

As NBC stood by Reid amid the blog scandal, the network also stopped her attempt to tell Abrams’ story.

“Just like that, NBC threw Joy and me under the bus. It killed her story and—at least temporarily—silenced me,” Abrams wrote.

NBC did not immediately respond to a series of questions, including a request for comment on The Daily Beast column and whether or not the decision to stand by Reid was tied to shutting down her report on Abrams’ accusations.

A rep for Calloway did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Abrams’ claims against Simmons and Calloway were published by The Hollywood Reporter two months after NBC News declined to publish them.

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“Everything checked and we published. The story was ready to go,” THR’s Kim Master wrote at the time.

Abrams wrote that “it’s clear that NBC thinks it can spin their way out of this” but “fails to recognize is that this is a much bigger issue than their cover-ups, payoffs and excuses.” She added that news organizations such as NBC are “supposed to be a watchdog for abuses of power” but the Peacock Network has failed.

“What we have seen over and over again with NBC is its use of its power to protect those in power,” she wrote. “This entire sordid mess is solely about power and NBC's choice to side with those in possession of it.”

Calloway’s lawyer has denied all wrongdoings alleged against her client. Simmons, who faces 12 accusations of rape and sexual misconduct, has denied all allegations against him.

Abrams noted that NBC has repeatedly proved “when it comes down to breaking news on the sexual abuse of women by men who also have power, it will protect assailants under the guise of ‘not meeting standards and practices.’”

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But NBC isn’t as strict when it comes to other stories and doesn’t even always make other stories go through the standards and practices process.

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell admitted he made an “error in judgment” in August after his show aired a single-sourced, unverified report that President Trump had loans co-signed by Russian oligarchs.

“Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process. I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight,” O’Donnell tweeted.

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While NBC allowed O’Donnell to make unverified claims about the president, the same network has refused “to stand by” reporters seeking to expose alleged sexual predators, according to Abrams.

“NBC is complicit in maintaining structures of gender inequality and rape culture. The bottom line is this: it kept dangerous men from being held accountable."

— Sil Lai Abrams

“NBC is complicit in maintaining structures of gender inequality and rape culture. The bottom line is this: it kept dangerous men from being held accountable,” Abrams wrote.

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After Abrams’ side of the story was published in The Daily Beast, she took to Twitter with additional thoughts on the situation at NBC.