I just finished Ronan Farrow’s exposé, Catch and Kill, last night and I’m still a little worked up over it. “Catch and kill,” in journalistic terms, refers to buying the rights to a story without the intention of publishing it. I imagine stacks of manila envelopes filled with salacious tales piled against the walls of a giant safe in the basement of a bank. It might not be as exciting as that, but after reading this book, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.
Catch and Kill is loaded with explosive accounts of sexual misconduct, coverups, intimidation, spies and of course, powerful men. Farrow’s attempts to shed light on media empires and news companies that harbor criminals and creeps are as wide as they are deep. The book initially centers on Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul who has spent his career preying on young women, manipulating careers, and generally being a creep, to put it lightly.
Farrow began his reporting while employed by NBC, and, along with his producer, Rich McHugh, was able to uncover Weinstein's emails, as well as recordings and statements from multiple victims. In one particularly harrowing recording, made in secret by aspiring actress Ambra Gutierrez, Weinstein demands her presence in his hotel room, and defends groping her the day before by saying “I’m used to that.” After hemming and hawing over the “report-ability” of Farrow and McHugh’s findings, NBC executives eventually put the kibosh on the story. Farrow, despite being followed by Israeli spies hired by Weinstein, took his talents to The New Yorker, where the accusations against Weinstein were eventually published in 2017. NBC was left to explain why they didn’t find the story newsworthy. Spoiler alert: the answer rhymes with “schmoverup.”
Farrow's relentless pursuits to expose the truth about these evil men are truly remarkable, but more important, the women who came forward to tell their stories exhibited bravery beyond imagination. Many of them were publicly shamed by the media, intimidated by lawyers and other powerful industry leaders, and in many cases had their careers pulled out from under them.
When men like Weinstein are put on an untouchable pedestal, women suffer. The cycle of abuse Farrow describes is filled with so many shades of grey, and stems from the imbalance of power in Hollywood or any industry where abuse is happening. Harvey Weinstein is currently on trial in the state of New York, and closing arguments were made on Thursday, February 13.
If you or someone you know is experiencing workplace sexual harassment or abuse, EqualRights.org is a great resource in the US, and and Citizens Advice has a great guide for those in the UK, as well as a hotline.
On that note, I want to wish you a safe and LOVE-filled Valentine’s Day.
*header image from The Washington Post*