Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators 
by Ronan Farrow
Read by Ronan Farrow
Source: audiobook checked out from my local library

Publisher's Summary:
In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood's most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family. 

All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance they could not explain — until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood to Washington and beyond. This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. And it's the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

My Thoughts:
Predators. Did you catch that in the title? I don't know why but I was under this impression when I picked this up was that this was a book about uncovering Harvey Weinstein's crimes. Nope. Donald Trump and Matt Lauer both come under fire and can I just tell you that, after thinking that I was pretty well up to speed with what each of them had been accused of, I had no idea. Just as I was finishing this book, I was talking to my book club and telling them how angry this book made me. A week later, I'm still angry. 

And it's not just about the crimes these men are alleged to have committed (and, in Weinstein's case, convicted of) or their overall belief that they could do or say whatever they wanted to women. It's the system that allowed them to get away with it. From people who refused to believe these men were guilty to people who protected them regardless. 

All three men, in a way, owned the media. Weinstein and Trump were close to Dylan Howard, the editor of The National Enquirer, whose parent company, American Media Inc, practiced "catch and kill" in which they would purchase a story to bury it. Certainly they did some of that to be able to hold it over people's heads in the future, but some of it was absolutely done to protect the people they wanted to take care of. In effect, NBC, who employed Farrow at the time he began researching the allegations against Weinstein, essentially did the same thing to protect Lauer. NBC needed to protect their golden boy, the guy that kept them at the top of the morning show ratings. As with all of these men, and so many others not included in this book, money talks. And it's yet another way that the rich stay out of prison while the poor end up their for doing much less. 

As for the actual writing, Farrow was, shall we say, thorough. Sometimes I appreciated it; it reinforced the number of women impacted, the amount of work it took to get these women to feel like they could talk, the incredible effort it took to get this story out to the public. After initially seeming to support Farrow's reporting, NBC started dragging its heels, finally trying to kill it. But a promise to his sister, Dylan (who has alleged that she was molested by their father, Woody Allen), and a feeling of commitment to the other women, drove Farrow to keep going. Unfortunately, there were times I just wanted to Farrow to condense the information. 

I did have one major beef with the audiobook. For the most part, Farrow does a fine job reading his own book. But why someone didn't stop him from trying to do voices, particularly women's voices I can't imagine. Everyone of them sounded like a caricature which is the last thing a book that is meant to be supporting women should be doing. 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an informative read. I prefer a physical book to audio as sometimes the person reading gets in the way of my concentration.