Ronan Farrow rejects Matt Lauer's criticism of 'Catch and Kill': It 'was thoroughly reported and fact-checked'

Matt Lauer is speaking out about Ronan Farrow's best-selling book Catch and Kill, seven months after its release. The fired Today show host once again denied claims he raped anyone and questioned Farrow's "shoddy journalism." Farrow, meanwhile, is standing by his reporting.

Lauer wrote his rebuttal for Mediaite in a post titled "Why Ronan Farrow Is Indeed Too Good to Be True." It's the same website where he defended himself in October 2019. Lauer apparently planned to run his article weeks later, but "personal considerations at that time, and later news events impacting us all, delayed those plans." As for why he published the piece now, the former NBC star was emboldened following Sunday's New York Times article that criticized some of Farrow's journalistic methods.

Matt Lauer criticizes Ronan Farrow's reporting in Catch and Kill. (Photo: Getty Images)

"The Times story prompted me to move forward with my own findings," Lauer began.

"In late November 2017, I was fired from my job at the Today show after admitting to having a consensual, yet inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee in the workplace. NBC said it was a violation of company policy, and it ended my 25-year career at the network," he wrote.

"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," Lauer continued. "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."

Former NBC producer Brooke Nevils — who has also responded to Lauer’s rebuttal — spoke to Farrow for his book and claimed she was assaulted by Lauer at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Lauer strongly denied this, categorizing their relationship as an "extramarital affair." Nevils admitted in Catch and Kill that she and Lauer had further sexual encounters when they returned to New York City, but said, "It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship."

In Lauer's post on Tuesday, he called Nevils's claim "one of the worst and most consequential things to ever happen in my life, it was devastating for my family, and outrageously it was used to sell books."

Nevils lodged a complaint against Lauer to NBC, which ultimately resulted in his firing. She didn't use the words "rape" or "assault," which Lauer noted in his piece. He criticized the media for not challenging "the accusations against me."

Lauer went on to specifically criticize Farrow, saying his former colleague "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."

Lauer added, "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-checkingf in favor of salacious, and deeply flawed, material. I also believe that some of Ronan’s sources felt they could make outrageous claims to him, knowing he (and thus their stories) would not be doubted."

The former morning-show host laid out "four primary ways in which Ronan betrayed the truth in writing his book," Lauer’s primary issue being that he believes Farrow and the publishers of Catch and Kill didn't properly fact-check sources. (Lauer laid out his case in great length, which can be read in full on Mediaite.)

"Will anyone hold Ronan Farrow thoroughly accountable? I doubt it," Lauer concluded. "After all, the book tour is over. By marketing standards, it was a smashing success. As a search for the truth, at least with regard to my story, it was not."

He continued, "The questions I’ve posed here are both professional and deeply personal. I ask people to consider how they would react if someone they loved were accused of something horrific and basic journalistic standards were ignored because of a desire to sell books. I also urge people to remember that there are two sides to all stories."

Lauer said he doubts Farrow will take this criticism "lightly, and he shouldn't."

"He may try to change the subject by leveling new claims against me. He may question my credibility, but I have raised issues here that others could have easily raised as well. He may try to enlist allies in an effort to attack me and correct his journalistic lapses, months after the damage has been done. Perhaps his publisher will also rush to his defense," Lauer wrote.

"Or maybe he’ll surprise me. Maybe he’ll simply stand up and say, I let a desire to sell books overwhelm my responsibility as a journalist. I should have done more to fact check these stories because errors like these come with a cost," he continued.

"In the meantime, I will continue to ask questions and seek answers, because ironically, I can thank Ronan for at least one thing," Lauer concluded. "He has reminded me how it feels to do the work I love."

Lauer probably isn’t surprised by Farrow’s response. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, "Matt Lauer is just wrong."

Farrow also defended himself on Monday after Ben Smith's Times article made him a trending topic, tweeting, "I stand by my reporting."

A spokesperson for the publisher of Catch and Kill, told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement, “Little, Brown and Company fully supports Ronan Farrow and his reporting in Catch and Kill. Ronan’s dedication to a deep and thorough fact-check of his reporting, his commitment to the rights of victims and his impeccable attention to detail and nuance make us proud to be his publisher.”

Farrow issued an additional statement on Tuesday evening, telling Yahoo Entertainment “We called dozens of corroborators around the Lauer allegations described in the book, and more than a dozen around Brooke Nevils specifically.”

Nevils also responded to Lauer’s claims Tuesday on Twitter:

DARVO is an acronym used to describe a common strategy of abusers. It says the abuser will deny the abuse, attack the victim and claim they are the real victim, reversing the victim and offender roles. It was coined by Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.

This storywas originally published on May 19, 2020 at 9:52 p.m. ET and has been updated to include

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