Matt Lauer fires back at Ronan Farrow after NY Times questions his reporting
Matt Lauer issued a massive rebuttal Tuesday to Ronan Farrow’s explosive book that included rape allegations against the former NBC star — two days after Farrow was ripped in a media column over his reporting.
“I was shaken, but not surprised, that few in the media were willing to thoroughly challenge the accusations against me, or the person making them,’’ Lauer wrote in a piece on the Web site Mediaite.
“I had originally intended to release [Tuesday’s rebuttal] in November of 2019, but personal considerations at that time, and later news events impacting us all, delayed those plans,’’ the disgraced ex-talk-show host and news anchor said without elaborating.
“This week The New York Times published a piece that was highly critical of Ronan Farrow’s journalistic methods and standards,’’ Lauer said.
“Ronan stood by his reporting in response. The Times story prompted me to move forward with my own findings.’’
Lauer said that after Farrow’s 2019 book, “Catch and Kill,’’ detailed allegations by former NBC staffer Brooke Neville that the TV star had raped her, “The rush to judgment was swift.
“In fact, on the morning I was falsely accused of rape, and before I could even issue a statement, some journalists were already calling my accuser ‘brave’ and ‘courageous,’ ” Lauer wrote.
“I was also disappointed, but not surprised, that Ronan Farrow’s overall reporting faced so little scrutiny. Until this week’s critical reporting by The New York Times, many in the media perceived his work as inherently beyond basic questioning.
“However, [Farrow] was hardly an unbiased journalist when it came to anything to do with NBC, and he was rarely challenged as he dropped salacious stories in a daily marketing effort designed to create media attention for his book.”
“What I found when I read the book was frankly shocking, and it should concern anyone who cares about journalism,’’ said Lauer — as he challenged point-by-point some of what he called Farrow’s “flawed reporting and factual errors.
“This is not just about accusations against the former host of the ‘Today’ show. It’s about whether changing social attitudes can be allowed to change the most fundamental rules of journalism,’’ the fallen newsman said.
“It’s about whether, as journalists, we have a responsibility to check facts and vet sources.’’
Farrow said Monday that he stands by his reporting, the day after New York Times media columnist Ben Smith panned his work.
Farrow “delivers narratives that are irresistibly cinematic — with unmistakable heroes and villains … [and] often omits the complicating facts and inconvenient details that may make them less dramatic,’’ Smith wrote.
Lauer also wrote Tuesday about being fired from his top job on the “Today’’ show in 2017, “after admitting to having a consensual, yet inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee in the workplace,’’ Neville.
“I say these words with sincerity and humility. I am sorry for the way I conducted myself. I made some terrible decisions, and I betrayed the trust of many people,’’ he said.
“If this story had ended there you would not be reading this. But, it did not end there.
“On October 9, 2019, I was falsely accused of rape.
“I am not suggesting that everything Ronan has written in his book is untrue or based on misinformation, but it is clear that over the course of nearly two years he became a magnet and a willing ear for anyone with negative stories about the network and people who worked for it,’’ Lauer said.
“I believe Ronan knew his work on Catch and Kill would receive little in the way of scrutiny, from the very beginning.
“It’s the only way to explain why he was so willing to abandon common sense and true fact checking in favor of salacious, and deeply flawed, material.”
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