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Russell Simmons’ Rape Accuser Claims MSNBC Tried to Bury Her Story
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Sil Lai Abrams with Joy Reid. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Summary: A woman claims that MSNBC tried to “slow walk” her sexual assault accusations against Russell Simmons and A.J. Calloway. 

On Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter published an account from a woman who claimed that Russell Simmons had raped her and that NBC News had buried the story.


“Amid #MeToo, Sil Lai Abrams was ready to go public with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about horrific claims against the music mogul and A.J. Calloway. But as the vetting process dragged on and Reid accused her employer of “slow walking” the story with “stupid” requests, Abrams feared being “silenced.” Now, based on documents, witnesses, private text messages and several court orders, her account of the men — and the network — is revealed,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote.

Sil Lai Abrams, 48, said that she met Russell Simmons when she was on the party scene during the 1990s, and that he raped her in 1994. In 2006, Abrams said she was sexually assaulted by A.J. Calloway, a host on the TV show Extra which airs on NBC.

Both men deny Abrams’ allegations.

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Abrams said that during the #MeToo heyday she had gone to Joy Reid at MSNBC to share her story and that Reid had agreed to air the segment.  Abrams said that Reid had learned of Abrams’ account in November of 2017 and had been investigating well into December. In January, the two women filmed a segment, but then the network never aired it.

The Hollywood Reporter said that it appeared that Reid and the network were “slow walking” the story until it got to the point in April when Abrams believed the story had been killed.

“MSNBC’s decision to pass on the story came in the midst of the Time’s Up movement, even as other publications and outlets were revealing allegations of misconduct against high-profile men at an unprecedented pace. It also occurred amid heightened scrutiny of NBC News (MSNBC president Phil Griffin reports to NBC News chief Andy Lack) in the wake of the NBC’s decision to let go of what became Ronan Farrow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of Harvey Weinstein,” The Hollywood Reporter said.

“NBC also has been criticized for its handling of the Billy Bush-Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape — a story that ultimately was broken by The Washington Post. And the network has faced questions about its own internal culture. In the wake of allegations against Matt Lauer, NBC exonerated itself after conducting its own “culture assessment” without hiring outside investigators,” The Hollywood Reporter continued.

Simmons has been accused by more than a dozen women of rape or assault. The first accusation was brought on by model Keri Claussen Khalighi who said that he had raped her while director Brett Ratner looked on. She said that the incident occurred in 1991 when she was a teenager. Writer Jenny Lumet and publicist Kelly Cutrone also said that Simmons had raped or attempted to rape them.

MSNBC told The Hollywood Reporter that journalistic standards were the reason Abrams’ story was never aired. NBC News said that investigative reporters were assigned to work with Reid on the story but the segment did not meet their standards. Reid told The Hollywood Reporter that stories “take time.”

“Investigative reports like these take time, and not surprisingly, sometimes journalists get frustrated as well,” Reid’s statement said. “I inappropriately shared that frustration privately with Sil Lai. I completely respect MSNBC’s standards and practices. Meticulous research to get the facts right was the only option, especially given the seriousness of the allegations.”

What do you think of NBC News and MSNBC? Let us know in the comments below.


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