Rich McHugh, who served as Ronan Farrow's producer at NBC News, is interviewed by Tucker Carlson about how the network reacted when the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal broke in full force. McHugh accused the network of acting like Weinstein's PR team and said they shut down investigations into the movie producer even after it became front-page news.
Transcript, via FOX News/Tucker Carlson Tonight:
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: But before that happens, we wanted to speak to Rich McHugh directly about his experiences at NBC. And so we’re happy to have him join us here tonight.
Rich McHugh, welcome so -- welcome.
RICH MCHUGH, RONAN FARROW PRODUCER: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: So you opened the piece with one of the great leads ever. One year ago, I resigned from NBC News because they ordered me to stop reporting on Harvey Weinstein, which they clearly did.
In the piece, you unearthed evidence that Weinstein’s lawyers, David Boies, being his chief lawyer, had been assured by NBC lawyers that you would not do reporting on Harvey Weinstein.
MCHUGH: That’s correct. And you know, part of this goes to Ronan, what Ronan unearthed in his book “Catch and Kill,” too.
But you know the piece quotes an incident where that happened where David Boies, who as an attorney for Weinstein at the time, you know, on behalf of Mr. Weinstein went to get assurance from NBC of what was going on with the story.
And he was told that, you know, we’ve told Mr. Weinstein we’re no longer doing a story on him.
CARLSON: So you’ve worked at a number of different television networks.
MCHUGH: I have.
CARLSON: You were supervising producer in the investigative unit at NBC. Not a small job.
Have you ever heard of a network assuring the target of an investigation or a subject in the story that they‘re not going to report on him?
MCHUGH: Never. Never.
CARLSON: What do you think this was about?
MCHUGH: I think it was -- I think everybody knew -- I think everybody who’s read the book, first of all, “Catch and Kill” -- and hopefully people who’ve read, you know, what I wrote now see what it was about.
And I think Ronan did an excellent job of connecting the dots that -- you know this was A, this was a very powerful person, you know, at the time. Harvey Weinstein had -- was the, you know, still one of the biggest, if not the biggest producers in Hollywood. And had extreme -- you know, an extreme ability to shut down stories and had done it for years.
MCHUGH: And I think this was about -- I think he figured out that NBC had an Achilles heel. Ronan paints it more succinctly and through facts in his book. But NBC had a Matt Lauer problem and everybody was aware of it.
MCHUGH: And I think Weinstein exploited that.
CARLSON: So not to jump ahead in story, but at the -- at the end of your piece, you recount a scene where you confronted Noah Oppenheim directly, and you said, did you have any indication that your chief anchor had been accused of sexual misconduct during his time there, that Matt Lauer had a problem with women? And he said, and I’m quoting, no.
Is that true?
MCHUGH: Well, that happened, yes. I confronted him in a meeting and did I -- did I believe it? No. And I don’t think anybody else in the meeting believed it either.
I mean we all knew that NBC -- everybody at NBC was aware that Matt Lauer was off, you know, having affairs and what not.
And the extent of which we’ve now learned through documents and settlements that have been revealed in the book, it was much more than that. And the executives at the company were aware, were told. You know, even Ann Curry was out years ago. And she’s now come on the -- gone on the record since saying she did tell executives at the company they had to be aware of Matt Lauer with women.
So, of course, they knew.
CARLSON: It’s just remarkable that they could lie right to your face.
Now you’ve got an account in here of what it was like to spend eight months of your life reporting on Harvey Weinstein with uncertain support from your own employer, NBC.
But in this you say that your phone wound up bugged. That someone broke into your house and tampered with the phone lines.
CARLSON: And the suggestion is that it was private investigators, former Mossad hired by Harvey Weinstein.
Did you ever get to the bottom of it?
MCHUGH: My situation independently, parts of it, I did. But Ronan has unearthed -- you know, because he spoke with some members of Black Cube, he was privy to a lot of these details.
And we’ve been able to piece together what happened. He was able to figure out exactly who was tracking him.
MCHUGH: But my situation was a little different, but I consulted security experts and what not. And it was pretty clear what was going on.
I mean it still continues though. It’s like I -- I’ve people have been trying to break into my e-mails right when I was writing the “Vanity Fair” story.
So it’s -- I wish I could say it’s over, but it’s not.
CARLSON: But to go that far out on a limb for a story and then have your employer sell you out -- I mean you -- at one point you say Noah Oppenheim was exchanging chirpy texts and gifts with Harvey Weinstein after killing your investigation into him.
I mean how do you feel about that?
MCHUGH: I was pretty upset to learn a lot of that stuff to be honest. You know, I have no animosity against these people. But it’s clear to me that, you know, we were lied to over and over.
And it’s just not right, especially coming from a news organization.
CARLSON: That’s right.
MCHUGH: And it’s just -- it’s the very crux of what they do is to -- it’s their mission is to tell the truth. And I think they not only lost sight of it, but they just -- they didn’t adhere to their basic principles.
CARLSON: So Noah Oppenheim was just, well, apparently resigned, “The Wall Street Journal” reported today, I’m sure, a huge -- a huge salary. And he is next in line to take over the entire company.
How do you feel about that? And how do you think employees still at NBC feel about that?
MCHUGH: I know employees at NBC are upset about it. I’ve spoken to many of them. I feel it’s -- you know, it’s rather tone deaf.
I think it’s going to be hard for employees, journalists at NBC going forward to report on corporate malfeasance elsewhere, because it’s just -- it makes their job ultimately harder, when the leadership at the top isn’t listening to what is -- the facts that are coming out in this case.
There’s a complete disconnect.
CARLSON: But it’s baffling. I mean, I know Noah Oppenheim. I don’t think he’s an evil man or anything. But he’s certainly mediocre. I can imagine you could hire a lot of people to run NBC.
Why is he still there, I mean, given the fact he’s been caught lying repeatedly?
MCHUGH: That’s a very good question, Tucker. I truly don’t know except that, I would have to guess that they -- they’ve decided on a narrative from the beginning of this.
I even warned them. I said if you go down this road with this narrative, this is going to be a long -- around for a long time.
And so it’s better to come clean and say we messed up. We should have done this --
MCHUGH: -- we should have done that. And they chose not to do it. And here we are.
CARLSON: Well, let me just stop you. So you gave them that advice, which is the only advice, you’re absolutely right. How did they respond?
MCHUGH: Kind of like baffled. Like what -- you know what do you -- what do you mean? What are you -- and I said well, I know -- I know what I know to be truth and my experience in this story. And that’s what I know is the truth. So anything other than that is a narrative.
CARLSON: Yes, yes.
MCHUGH: And you know, it put me in an odd spot, you know, at NBC. Let’s -- let’s say that.
CARLSON: Yes. Well, you resigned over it. Really quick, have you heard from them since this piece came out?
MCHUGH: I have not. I’ve heard from a lot of employees who thanked me for it --
MCHUGH: -- and said this was a public service and you know, kudos. You know, it’s unfortunate that we have to live in this existence here.
CARLSON: It was a public service. There’s been an awful lot written on Harvey Weinstein over the past year. But this is the clearest account I have read of the cover-up at NBC. I was -- I was impressed with the piece.
MCHUGH: Thank you.
CARLSON: Rich, thanks for doing it. Thanks for coming on tonight.