Books

Ronan Farrow’s CATCH & KILL: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

“Catch and Kill” refers to a tactic used by news organizations to get rid of stories they don’t like. They spend a (HUGE) sum of money to buy the rights to the story, which they then NEVER publish, broadcast or share in any way. Instead the inconvenient truth is completely buried.

I was not sure what I was getting into with this audiobook, as I usually read sordid tales of greed and hypocrisy that happened in the past, not at NBC news and not in the present. To say that Farrow’s tale was shocking is an understatement. His narrative begins with his attempts to report on the story about Harvey Weinstein, when some heroically brave women finally decided to speak up in 2017, despite their fear of retaliation and character assassination. However, the higher-ups at NBC had a problem with this reporting. It wasn’t the quality of the reporting. It wasn’t the facts. It wasn’t the sources. Or the ethics. It was…well they had a very hard time actually saying what it was.

One of Farrow’s sources tipped him off by saying that there were more Harvey Weinstein’s at NBC. And so Farrow’s narrative stopped being an account of the Harvey Weinstein story, and instead became an account of Matt Lauer’s abuse of subordinate women, in particular one woman (whose name I will not mention) whom he savagely raped, hurting her so much that she couldn’t walk properly for a time.

I guess it was this story about Matt Lauer that shocked me the most, and made me furious that a group of people (women who depended on Lauer for their career prospects) should be forced to work at their “dream job” in an environment that was positively hazardous to inhabit.

I have written one novel about the Middle Ages, and so am familiar with macho, male-dominated cultures, where women are afraid to speak up, are routinely brutalized, and are seen (mostly) as rented wombs for the getting of male children. I watched “Game of Thrones” and didn’t flinch. But Lauer’s unprovoked savagery against this young woman made me sick.

Five stars.

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