NBC is denying it tried to suppress Ronan Farrow‘s Harvey Weinstein investigation after the journalist and author claimed the disgraced producer used rumors about Matt Lauer to pressure the network into killing Farrow’s story.
In an internal memo to NBC staff obtained by PEOPLE, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack shot down Farrow’s allegations, calling Farrow’s claims in his new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators “fundamentally untrue.”
“As you know, our news organization is filled with dedicated, professional journalists, including some of the best and most experienced investigative reporters, as well as others who support our reporting with exceptional talent, integrity and decency,” Lack, 72, wrote. “It disappoints me to say that even with [the] passage of time, Farrow’s account has become neither more accurate, nor more respectful of the dedicated colleagues he worked with here at NBC News. He uses a variety of tactics to paint a fundamentally untrue picture.”
Lack wrote that as Farrow began reporting his Weinstein story, NBC News “completely supported it over many months with resources — both financial and editorial.”
“After seven months, without one victim or witness on the record, he simply didn’t have a story that met our standard for broadcast nor that of any major news organization,” he continued. “Not willing to accept that standard and not wanting to get beaten by the New York Times, [Farrow] asked to take his story to an outlet he claimed was ready to publish right away.”
Lack wrote NBC News gave Farrow the “go ahead” to publish his investigation with The New Yorker in late 2017, five days after the Times broke the story first.
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Farrow’s article, Lack said, “bore little resemblance to the reporting he had while at NBC News.”
“Let me remind you of who we really are. Our journalists have been at the forefront of blockbuster investigations into sexual harassment and abuse on many stories — many pre-dating Weinstein — including USA Gymnastics, Silicon Valley, Bill Cosby, Jeffrey Epstein and more,” Lack wrote. “To get across the finish line on big stories like these takes exceptional work, collaboration, patience, and a commitment to a set of standards and practices that ultimately lends our work great credibility.”
However, a rep for Farrow denies NBC’s account and tells PEOPLE in a statement, “The claims by NBC’s senior management about Ronan Farrow’s reporting are simply not true, as his book will methodically demonstrate.”
“In fact, relevant sections of the book confirm not only how many women were named, but also how much proof Ronan had gathered,” Farrow’s rep adds. “Importantly, it documents the lengths to which NBC executives went to thwart the reporting efforts of Ronan and his producer Rich McHugh and why they did so. That is why it is called Catch and Kill, out on October 15.”
Lack’s memo comes after Farrow reported new claims about Weinstein’s attempts to suppress the sexual assault allegations against him from coming out. Weinstein used negative information he had about Lauer to spook NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it,” Farrow writes in his new book, per the outlet.
Farrow reportedly claimed that Weinstein used National Enquirer‘s accumulated reporting on Lauer’s alleged workplace misconduct as leverage. NBC denied ever receiving these threats from Weinstein in a statement that Farrow includes in the book, per THR.
An attorney for Weinstein, who has denied allegations of nonconsensual sex, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
In his memo, Lack condemned Lauer’s alleged behavior, telling staffers the former news anchor was promptly fired after NBC first became aware of an allegation by former NBC employee Brooke Nevils that Lauer allegedly anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours,” Lack wrote. “Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive.”
Lauer denied the allegation in a lengthy statement, calling their encounter “consensual.”
Since the incident, Lack revealed that NBC has worked to “improve our culture and ensure we have a workplace where everyone feels safe and respected, as well as protected in raising claims.”
“We’ve required all NBC News employees to complete in-person workplace behavior trainings and we’ve significantly increased awareness of the ways employees report concerns – anonymously or otherwise,” Lack added.