A domestic-violence activist who accused hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons of rape and Extra host A.J. Calloway of sexual assault said she brought the claims to MSNBC, but the network ultimately passed on the story. “I want people to understand how incredibly challenging this is, with a story like mine that’s highly sourced, with me doing this [advocacy] work in the public arena. And I can’t get my story out there?” Sil Lai Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter.
The #MeToo movement inspired Abrams to come forward with her allegations, which claim that Simmons raped her after a night of heavy drinking. She taped an interview with MSNBC’S Joy Reid, but the vetting process “dragged on frustratingly for weeks and then months,” she said. Abrams said Reid told her that she believed the network was “slow walking” the story. (In a statement, Reid expressed regret for “inappropriately” sharing that frustration with Abrams: “I completely respect MSNBC’s standards and practices,” she said). Eventually, the network stopped answering Reid’s questions about when it would air. NBC has previously been criticized for its handling of internal sexual-misconduct claims and for killing Ronan Farrow’s bombshell Harvey Weinstein story.
In a statement, MSNBC said: “When MSNBC pursues any investigative story our mission is always to be as thorough as we can, to scrutinize sources and corroborate information before we report. Anything else falls short of our journalistic standards.”