The bestseller from Ronan Farrow, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, documents the process of reporting a huge story. And it shows how that story was like nailing Jell-O to the wall. Or herding cats. Everything conspired against Farrow and his ability to get the story out to the public. And he didn’t stop, despite threats, bullying, and many other scary experiences.
If you’ve heard any news items about Harvey Weinstein, you know some parts of this story. Farrow tells how Weinstein was a serial sexual predator for decades in Hollywood. The pattern was specific and chilling. First, he offered women help with their careers in movies, next he repeatedly sexually assaulted them. They were trapped in the cycle because their career success was tied to his favors, for which they paid dearly. And this happened to untold numbers of women.
Weinstein wasn’t the only man who followed this pattern, and Farrow covers some of those situations as well. Especially as it relates to executives and onscreen personalities at NBC and their affiliates, like Matt Lauer. In addition to the serial predators, a big part of Catch and Kill is how NBC tried to stop the reporting Farrow produced about Weinstein.
Farrow also tells about American Media, Inc., which is the parent company of tabloid National Enquirer. Their decades-long practice of buying stories of women speaking out against predators and then burying them led to the term “catch and kill.”
This isn’t a happy story, but it needs to be told. Give this book a try, if nothing else because it supports long-term investigative journalism projects. In this time of unprecedented shoddy journalism standards, Farrow stands out as a professional with integrity.
I couldn’t admire Farrow more for persisting in the face of unrelenting pressure. He stuck up for women who’ve been abused, assaulted, and harassed by men in power. He exposed the truth, and never let the women be treated unfairly. Even when people in power were trying with all their might to do just that.
Farrow’s narration of the audiobook is also terrific. I’m not usually a fan of author-narrated books, but Farrow has some genetic connections to acting. He even does great accents throughout the book.
As you can, in this stressful time for everyone in the world, pick this book up and read. The story inspired me. Plus, it proves that quality journalism not only changes lives but makes the world a better place for all of us.
Pair with A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, especially if your reading time has increased lately. It’s a long and excellent book, if also harrowing. Another option is The Power by Naomi Alderman, for a dystopian view of life where women fight back against their abusers. Also give Mary Beard’s Women & Power a try for a nonfiction pair.