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NBC News accused of 'slow walking' another sexual assault story

NBC News accused of 'slow walking' another sexual assault story
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MSNBC has been accused by a domestic-violence activist of "slow walking" a "highly sourced" account she provided in a taped interview with network host Joy Reid.

The accuser, Sil Lai Abrams, told Reid that hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons raped her in 1994. Abrams also accused "Extra" host A.J. Calloway of sexual assault for an incident in 2006. "Extra" airs in major markets on NBC owned-and-operated stations.

"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?” Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter.

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Both men have denied her allegations.

Abrams, who is a National Association of Black Journalists award-winning writer and inspirational speaker based in New York, said Reid told her that she believed MSNBC was "slow walking" the story.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams taped an interview with Reid in January at MSNBC's New York studio. The process, which began in December, dragged on for months, the magazine reported. Reid reportedly texted or emailed Abrams, sensing that the network was "slow walking" the story with "stupid" requests

Abrams told the magazine that Reid informed her in April that the network had stopped responding to her questions about when the segment would air.

MSNBC pushed back on that accusation in a statement on Thursday. 

“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," an NBC spokesperson said. 

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In a statement to The Hill, Reid said MSNBC stopped pursuing the story because reporters could not confirm "significant aspects" of the claims related to "the second man."  

"After roughly three months, our team at MSNBC was far along in our reporting on the allegations against one of the accused men, but unable to confirm significant aspects of the claims related to the second man," Reid said in the statement. This meant that we could not report on either man."

"The process was clearly frustrating for Sil Lai, particularly once other women publicly accused one of the men. Investigative reports like these take time, and not surprisingly, sometimes journalists get frustrated as well," she continued.

"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," Reid added.

But Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter that NBC "took away [her] voice." 

"If I didn't have those things, let's be very clear, no one would know about this today," she added, referencing the alleged assault. "I'm speaking out for all the other women who have been silenced, to let them know it's not their fault."

The Comcast-owned network was accused in 2017 of not publishing an investigative piece by reporter Ronan Farrow about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's alleged rape and criminal sex acts.

Farrow took the story to the New Yorker magazine, later winning a Pulitzer Prize for the reporting. Weinstein was arrested on rape and multiple sex crimes charges in May.