After a bombshell New York Times report revealed on Thursday that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein repeatedly had been accused of sexual harassment over almost three decades and had settled at least eight related lawsuits, the story quickly started trending on Twitter. Hundreds of thousands of tweets popped up about Weinstein and his accusers, including actress Ashley Judd.
Both CBS and ABC covered the story during their evening news broadcasts. But “NBC Nightly News” conspicuously did not give time to the story about a powerful media and political figure ― a story that had dominated social media throughout the day and was based on a New York Times report that clocked in at nearly 4,000 words.
“Nightly News” did not suffer from a lack of time to prepare for the story. The Times published its exclusive at 11 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, and NBC’s evening news broadcast runs at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. This would have given producers seven hours to prepare a segment.
“Nightly News” on Thursday was largely dominated by the aftermath of Sunday’s Las Vegas shooting massacre, and it featured a segment following up on the network’s exclusive story that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had threatened to quit over the summer and called President Donald Trump a “moron.” But the broadcast also featured segments on nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the sexist comments that NFL star Cam Newton had directed toward a female sports reporter.
The program is preparing to air a story about Weinstein on Friday night, a source familiar with the broadcast told HuffPost.
NBC has a history of extensively reporting on sexual harassment accusations against entertainment figures. In 2015, NBC News reporter Kate Snow interviewed 27 women who had accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual wrongdoing (Cosby’s show originally aired on NBC). Snow went on to win an Emmy for the hour-long program.
On Friday, ABC’s “Good Morning America” dedicated a detailed, 10-minute segment to The New York Times story. It highlighted the specific accusations made against Weinstein ― including Judd’s claim that he invited her to his hotel room in 1997 and offered to give her a massage ― and featured an interview with Weinstein’s attorney, Lisa Bloom.
“CBS This Morning” had a segment that ran just over five minutes, which also included the specific accusations against Weinstein and featured an interview with Times reporter Jodi Kantor.
“Today” on NBC did cover the Weinstein story, but not in its own reported segment. NBC News anchor Craig Melvin, who was filling in for Matt Lauer, read a story that ran just under a minute and was dominated by Weinstein’s pushback against the accusations. It mentioned that unnamed sources said Weinstein had reached settlements with eight different women, but didn’t feature any of the specific accusations made in the Times article.
Megyn Kelly, who hosts the third hour of “Today” called “Megyn Kelly Today,” mentioned the Weinstein scandal at the top of her program. Her segment lasted just over a minute and a half, and was followed by a short Q&A with the audience about the topic of sexual harassment in general. The script only touched on the accusations made against Weinstein and was also dominated by his pushback to them.
Kelly went on to offer some praise to Weinstein, who she said was “taking some responsibility for the allegations.”
“It sounds like he’s apologizing for his behavior to a certain extent,” Kelly said, adding, “One of the things I appreciated about Harvey Weinstein’s statement, he did offer some context … ‘I grew up in the ’60s and ‘70s.’”
Kelly was referring to a long statement ― which was criticized widely for seeming disingenuous ― that Weinstein released after the publication of the Times story.
“I came of age in the 60′s and 70′s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then,” he said in the statement. “I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.” It’s important to note that Weinstein turned 21 in 1973, so his workplace experience likely came in the ’70s and ’80s rather than the ’60s and ’70s.
But Weinstein’s statement received the most criticism for bizarrely pivoting into an attack on the National Rifle Association and Trump.
“I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention,” Weinstein said. “I hope [Executive Vice-President and CEO of the NRA] Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party.”
MSNBC host Chris Hayes responded to the statement with a tweet, saying, “Weinstein’s attempt to rally liberals to his side by attacking the NRA is gross and absurd and I hope people don’t fall for it.”
On Friday, “Today” made no mention of Weinstein’s attempt at pivoting to attacks on the NRA and Trump, and barely gave any time to the women who have accused the mogul of sexual harassment over the past 30 years, women whom he paid off and kept quiet. Weinstein was dominant and the women who accused him of harassment were barely visible.