By Rebecca Traister | 11 October 2019
THE CUT — Ronan Farrow’s new book, Catch and Kill, which will be published on Tuesday, reads like a thriller, beginning with two Russian spies in an Uzbek restaurant in Brooklyn, before unwinding and building toward ever-darker revelation. And while it may be tempting to understand the book’s major bombshell as the on-the-record allegation that Matt Lauer anally raped Brooke Nevils, a younger NBC colleague with whom he went on to have an affair, it’s not the assault itself (which Lauer denies) that serves as the book’s chilling denouement.
Rather, it’s the whole, intricate puzzle Farrow puts together, with astounding reportorial reach and detail: a weave of phone conversations, texts, in-person meetings, the exchange of gifts and information between powerful people in network news, magazines, law firms, and politics — all, Farrow suggests, in service of the protection of powerful men and the suppression of stories about the harm that they’ve done.
The reveal in Catch and Kill is not that there are corrupt people; it’s that corrupt people are in control of our media, politics, and entertainment and that, in fact, many of them remain in control — two years after the mass eruption of stories of harassment and assault that Farrow played a big part in precipitating. In his detailed laying out of systemic dread, Farrow does much to vividly describe the kind of horror story we still live in, when it comes to harassment and assault and, more broadly, to power imbalances and abuses.
Farrow, like his New York Times peers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in their recent book She Said, has chosen to frame his narrative around his own journalistic project — how he came to publish the blockbuster story of movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual predation. But unlike Kantor and Twohey’s triumphal tale of working within a supportive news organization, much of Farrow’s story is about working against the news network, NBC, where he was employed as an on-air investigative journalist and where he did much of his reporting on Weinstein, though that reporting would never air. (He eventually published in The New Yorker). […]