My 2 Cents on Catch and Kill

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I have clear memories of that pivotal event in 2017—when Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and significant contributor to the #MeToo movement Ronan Farrow (War on Peace) published in The New Yorker a damning exposé consisting of allegations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for his serial pattern of sexual abuse. It was fascinating to keep up with the investigation, and now you can read about the equally enthralling story behind it in Farrow’s latest book, Catch and Kill (named after the technique that tabloids use to buy the exclusive rights to scandalous stories and then bury them to protect a third party).
Starting out as the host of the Ronan Farrow Daily on MSNBC before the network shut down his show and moved him into doing investigative work for The Today Show, Farrow aimed at reporting on sexual misconduct in Hollywood. This led him to talking with numerous women whom Weinstein had harassed, assaulted, or even raped, and then intimidated into silence, often with settlements, nondisclosure agreements, and other, more threatening tactics. The research grew increasingly difficult as Weinstein used his widespread connections to pressure NBC executives into spiking Farrow’s investigation. He also threatened Farrow with a smear campaign that claimed the story was too personal for him because his sister Dylan had accused their father Woody Allen of sexually assaulting her. Eventually, Farrow was forced to take his work to The New Yorker, where, not without more frustrating challenges, it was published, soon resulting in Weinstein’s arrest. Catch and Kill also covers other predators, especially Matt Lauer and Donald Trump; a chunk of the book towards the end recounts Lauer’s misconduct and his dismissal from NBC. The captivating narrative, filled with conspiracy and intrigue and machinations, will make you feel as though you’re reading a political thriller, such as when Weinstein hired the private Israeli intelligence firm Black Cube to spy on his accusers, or when a pair of private investigators started following Farrow. In the end this is a scrupulous, strong, absolutely essential book about a culture that shields powerful men and the victories that can be achieved with earnest journalism.
Windup score: 98/100

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