Vanity Fair has a good piece up about Ronan Farrow’s forthcoming book. The tl; dr is that NBC’s leadership knifed a lot of talented people (mostly women) in the back by firing and/or exposing them to abuse AND killed a blockbuster scoop to back up a powerful celebrity working for the network and another powerful celebrity who was good buddies with many of the network’s prominent employees. And while it’s neither here nor there morally, from the standpoint of institutional sexism it’s worth noting that the abusive host who NBC’s brass convinced themselves was an Indispensable Man and went to the mat to protect was in fact an eminently dispensable lightweight hack.
How does this happen? “Because the network was headed by men who are also revolting misogynists and/or good friends with revolting misogynists” may seem too simple but it’s essentially correct:
Noah Oppenheim, a Today show and NBC News executive to whom Farrow reported, shruggingly tells Farrow that during the 2016 election, women in NBC’s news team had reported sexual harassment by a Trump campaign official on the trail but weren’t eager to come forward publicly. Oppenheim, Farrow discovers, has been shrugging off abuses of gender and power for a long time; as an undergraduate, he wrote anti-feminist screeds for the Harvard Crimson. “To the angry feminists,” read one, “there is nothing wrong with single-sex institutions,” arguing for men’s clubs and noting that “women who feel threatened by the clubs’ environments should seek tamer pastures. However, apparently women enjoy being confined, pumped full of alcohol and preyed upon” — a prescient description of what Brooke Nevils says happened to her in Lauer’s hotel room. “They feel desired, not demeaned,” Oppenheim wrote as a student.
It was not long after, we learn, that Oppenheim was “discovered” while a college senior by Phil Griffin. Griffin is currently the president of MSNBC, and Farrow describes him as a crude boss who waves around a photo of a woman’s exposed vagina in a meeting, commenting, “Would you look at that? Not bad, not bad”; Farrow also reports that Griffin, while a senior producer at Nightly News in the 1990s, once pressured female producers to accompany him to a peep show in Times Square. In 2000, Griffin had been caught in a blizzard on his way back to New York, along with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the longtime host of Hardball, who had been reprimanded for verbally harassing an assistant producer in 1999 and was caught on tape joking in 2016 about slipping Hillary Clinton a “Bill Cosby pill” before interviewing her. Escaping the blizzard, Griffin and an unnamed colleague had “stopped off at Harvard Square and started talking to some undergraduate girls at a bar,” Farrow quotes Oppenheim as having described. “They followed them to a late-night party at the newspaper building and one picked up a copy of the paper” and read one of Oppenheim’s Crimson articles.
That’s how young Noah Oppenheim found his way to NBC News, where he’s been president since 2017 and where he continues to work alongside Griffin and Matthews, and also Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, who Farrow reports has a history of hounding female employees into affairs with him. One former correspondent who worked for Lack at CBS describes being relentlessly pursued by him when he was her married executive producer in the 1980s: “If your boss does that, what are you gonna say? … If you say, ‘I don’t want to celebrate with you,’ you’re asking for trouble.’”
Looks like it’s time for Harper’s to commission another HAS METOO GONE TOO FAR??????? story.