Farrow’s ‘Catch and Kill’ Draws Ire of Two Famed Rapists and their NBC Enablers

Farrow’s ‘Catch and Kill’ Draws Ire of Two Famed Rapists and their NBC Enablers

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow may be a slender, white male of immense historical privilege, but his continued work is one of the most consistent forces of reckoning behind the #MeToo movement. Centuries, if not millenniums overdue, it is unfortunately true of our still-patriarchal global society that a successful revolution requires powerful male allies. Mr. Farrow is one of our finest, and he’s made clear he is in it for the long haul.

It’s been an incredibly busy news week, even by the raised standards of the chaotic Trump era. However coverage surrounding the October 15 release of Farrow’s important new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, has punched through the noise. The media attention has focused almost as much upon the reaction of some of the book’s subjects, as it has the quality investigative reporting with which the journalist is due credit.

Among other allegations, Catch and Kill accuses NBC News of specific, connected malfeasance regarding the unmasking of former Hollywood king maker Harvey Weinstein, and ex-Today Show host Matt Lauer, as dangerous sexual predators. Per The Hollywood Reporter’s Jackie Strause:

Catch and Kill details alleged secret payouts at NBC News and how Lauer may have played a role in the network’s decision to kill Farrow’s Weinstein exposé. [The one] that he had originally planned to take to NBC, but eventually published in the New Yorker, and subsequently kicked off the #MeToo movement in October 2017. In the book, Farrow writes that, ‘Weinstein made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer’s behavior and capable of revealing it.’”

While this snapshot of the interconnected abuse of male power is not at all surprising, it’s still somewhat jarring in its brazenness. And those given to doubt of Farrow’s account should consider the immediate, visceral and disproportionate responses of the accused parties.

From Weinstein, via his petulant representative, as the disgraced producer awaits trial in New York City on rape charges:

“Harvey says that there is absolutely nothing factual about that account and he never did anything of the sort.”

A public statement from NBC News chairman Andy Lack on Wednesday of this week, stepping comfortably into the role of corporate martyr:

“It disappoints me to say that even with passage of time, Farrow’s account has become neither more accurate, nor more respectful of the dedicated colleagues he worked with here at NBC News. He uses a variety of tactics to paint a fundamentally untrue picture.”

And saving the best (read: most audacious and victim-shaming) for last, here’s Matt Lauer in response to the coming book’s rape allegations from former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, contained therein. Just gaze in awe at the gas lighting effrontery:

“Over the past two years people have asked why I have not spoken out to defend myself more vigorously against some of the false and salacious allegations leveled at me…Despite my desire to set the record straight and confront the individuals making false allegations, I wanted nothing less than to create more headlines my kids would read and a new gathering of photographers at the end of our driveway. So I decided to just stay quiet and work on repairing my relationship with the people I love. It has been the most important full-time job I have ever had.

But my silence has been a mistake.”

I’ll wait until you’re done retching…Ok, we continue.

To review and translate:

  1. Harvey Weinstein, who deployed an entire mass of enablers in service of his sexual crimes and subsequent cover-ups, is FLUMMOXED by suggestions he reached his disgusting paws into other controversies in order to spare himself.
  2. Andy Lack leads a morally pure media empire that somehow employed one of the longest-running, most rampant and overpaid beasts of prey in broadcast history. But it’s Ronan Farrow doing this disrespecting of his colleagues.
  3. Matt Lauer prizes his family relationships above all else, dammit! He’s just a lying philanderer and rapist trying to rebuild his life. Why (oh why!) can’t we just leave the poor pervert ALONE?

The immediate, scripted and entirely cynical reaction of all of these parties to Farrow’s book, which shot to the top of bestseller lists a week before its debut, is indicative of its promise of speaking truth to power. These men can feel feint, pathetic grasps on the narrative slipping further away. Farrow’s record of accomplishment and industry respect have made him increasingly dangerous. A piece from him is no as longer easy to scuttle as it was in 2017.

That doesn’t mean the predators and their fix-it men won’t keep trying. The conspiracy, however weakened, rolls on.

#TimesUp

Becky Sarwate

Becky is an award-winning journalist, Op-Ed columnist and blogger. On March 29, 2018 her first book, Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team, will be published by Eckhartz Press. She is a proud Chicago resident, where Becky lives with her husband Bob. Check out her collected work at BeckySarwate.com, and follow her on Twitter @BeckySarwate.