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Ronan Farrow hints ‘there will be more to say’ about why NBC killed his Harvey Weinstein story

“When there is a considerable ‘story behind the story,’ you want to make sure that doesn’t come out at a time when it would eclipse the very hard-fought stories of these accusers.”

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Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Time

Last year, NBC News* famously rejected a story that one of its then-employees, “Today Show” contributor Ronan Farrow, was working on: An investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault and the abuses of power needed to keep those crimes secret. The official explanation is that NBC allowed Farrow to walk the story to the New Yorker (and, oh yeah, win a Pulitzer Prize) because it needed more work when its editors saw the piece.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Farrow said he fully intended to air the report on the “Today Show” when he started reporting, with his first interview being an on-camera on-the-record Q&A with “a prominent person accusing Weinstein of rape.” But there’s more to the story that hasn’t been made public yet, and he is wary about pulling focus away from the survivors of sexual assault.

“The fact that there was a veil of silence around the Harvey Weinstein story for decades is not accidental, and there were a variety of systems that kept it silent,” Farrow told Recode’s Kara Swisher at a live event in San Francisco, produced by the Commonwealth Club of California.

“The question of the complicity of the media and the role the media played in keeping this quiet for as long as it was quiet, are important ones,” he added. “I think there will be more to say about that as time goes on and various investigations into this unfold. I just want to make sure that I tell the story that I witnessed and reveal the evidence that I have in a careful way, and that it’s also timed in a way that doesn’t take away from the spotlight that is correctly placed on the women and their allegations.”

* NBCUniversal, which owns NBC News, is an investor in Recode’s parent company, Vox Media.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Farrow explained how he convinced Weinstein’s victims to talk to him for the story; he credited his sister Dylan Farrow, ex-Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and Bill Cosby’s myriad accusers with proving that women could relive the trauma, come forward with their stories and be okay in the end.

“I think the world changed,” Farrow said. “There was a progression of brave women and also, of course, eventually men — I don’t want to discount the importance of male survivors of sexual violence and how much we need to hear their voices. But at the time, it was mostly women coming forward and chipping away at the culture of silence.”

He reiterated that the focus should be on these survivors and on the ways in which the justice system and the media failed them — not on predators like Weinstein. Many of the systems that preserved the status quo of silence are “still thriving,” he said.

“I think it’s a misstep to become fixated on the taking down of men and specific men behind these crimes,” Farrow said. “This, for me, was always about the survivors, taking stories that hadn’t been heard for so long and putting a spotlight on them, and making sure these brave women felt heard and seen.”

“I think the moment we start turning back to the spotlight being on Harvey Weinstein or any of these alleged predators, it detracts a little bit from the focus being on the allegations,” he added.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • On Too Embarrassed to Ask, also hosted by Kara Swisher, we answer the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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