A question circulating in the TV industry over the Donald Trump “Access Hollywood” tape is how The Washington Post, which published the 2005 videotape Friday, managed to scoop NBC on its own story.
“The footage of Mr. Trump came from a 2005 segment for “Access Hollywood,” the syndicated entertainment program owned by NBCUniversal,” The New York Times reports. “The video was discovered last Monday by an ‘Access Hollywood’ producer, and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News, learned of the tape’s existence the next day, according to two people briefed on internal network discussions.
“Yet on Friday afternoon, it was The Washington Post that posted the video to its website, rocking the political world and earning the envy of journalists across the country.”
The report cites a number of factors in NBC’s delayed reaction to the discovery, including a legal review and the usual slowdown attributable to corporate infrastructure. The report cites anonymous sources who are familiar with the process.
“The Post reporter who obtained the tape, David Fahrenthold, received a copy late Friday morning. When NBC’s news division learned that The Post was working on the story, it moved quickly: Within about 10 minutes of The Post’s publishing its version, the NBC News correspondent Katy Tur went on MSNBC with a story about the video, showing the footage,” The Times notes.
The report adds: “Interviews show that NBC lawyers, erring on the side of caution, examined whether the network could be vulnerable to a lawsuit for airing the recording, and discussed whether it was ethical to use live-microphone audio from a private moment with Mr. Trump — who was inside a van, off-camera — that was not intended to be broadcast.”
The report notes that the presence of NBC’s own Billy Bush on the tape complicated matters for the company.
Further, The Times reports: “Executives at NBC’s news division, meanwhile, deferred to their corporate cousins at ‘Access Hollywood,’ giving them first crack at airing the footage that was theirs — even as the entertainment show, unaccustomed to stories of such gravity, took its time. NBC officials, believing that the footage was closely guarded, did not think it was in danger of leaking.”