Controversial NBC News president Noah Oppenheim will step down from the high-profile role amid a broader shakeup at the news division, the network said Wednesday.
Oppenheim, who was accused by Ronan Farrow of spiking his Harvey Weinstein reporting, will remain in the NBC family, having inked a film and TV production deal with parent NBCUniversal.
NBC News Group chief Cesar Conde said New York Times deputy managing editor Rebecca Blumenstein will take over much of Oppenheim’s responsibilities, and grab the title of president of editorial for NBC News.
Blumenstein, 56, will oversee editorial, newsgathering, booking and the NBC News bureaus around the world. She will also oversee the “Dateline” and “Meet the Press” franchises, as well as NBC News Studios. The editor, who helped expand the Times’ digital journalism, will report to Conde.
Under a new structure, Libby Leist, the NBC News executive who oversees “Today,” and Janelle Rodriguez, the NBC News executive who supervises the streaming outlet NBC News Now, will also report to Conde. The cable channels MSNBC and CNBC will continue to be led by Rashida Jones and KC Sullivan, respectively.
Conde said the changes are meant to help NBC News “prepare for a future in which we build on our role as the nation’s most viewed news organization and seize the growth opportunity in front of us, our leadership structure must also evolve and reflect these trends.”
Oppenheim’s departure has been rumored in recent weeks, as his contract, which was renewed in 2019, neared expiration. Oppenheim was elevated to president of NBC News in 2017, after having led the “Today” show as senior vice president since 2015.
The exec, along with his boss, former NBC News chairman Andy Lack, were blasted by Farrow in his 2019 book “Catch and Kill” for allegedly refusing to publish his explosive story about Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while allegations against “Today” show host Matt Lauer were brewing.
At the time, Oppenheim said Farrow’s story, as reported for the network, did not meet its standards for publication. Staffers questioned the company’s excuse, as tensions escalated and led to MSNBC star Rachel Maddow questioning her bosses on-air during her monologue.
Oppenheim weathered the contoversy, but Lack stepped down in 2020.
According to NBC’s Conde, Oppenheim “will be changing his role to focus on his passion for producing movies and scripted television shows.”
Oppenheim penned the screenplay for the 2016 biopic “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy, the former first lady. He also co-wrote the adaptation for James Dashner’s novel “The Maze Runner,” which launched a trilogy that has grossed nearly a billion dollars at the box office worldwide.
Conde said the exec will develop scripts and long-form productions in partnership with NBCUniversal.
“We are excited for his new chapter and that he will continue to work closely with NBCUniversal in this new role,” Conde said. “We are grateful for his leadership and the many accomplishments of NBC News during his tenure.”
According to the New York Times, which first broke the news of the shakeup, Oppenheim has a handful of outside projects in the works. He is developing a limited series at Netflix starring Robert DeNiro, tentatively titled “Zero Day.” Oppenheim’s collaborators on the political thriller include Eric Newman, the showrunner of the drug trafficking drama “Narcos,” and Michael S. Schmidt, a reporter at the Times.
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