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Daily Archive: 05/04/2020

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April 2020

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Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for:
Anyone who enjoys quality journalism, excellent writing, and people in power starting to be held accountable.

In a nutshell:
Journalist Farrow starts investigating Harvey Weinstein and uncovers not just confirmation of his predation, but the people in power who repeatedly covered up his crimes — and the crimes of others.

Worth quoting:
“Later, employee after employee would tell me the human resources office at the company was a sham, a place where complaints went to die.”

Why I chose it:
Given all that has transpired in the past few years, I wanted to read about how one thread came together.

Review:
This book is over 400 pages long and I read it in a day and a half. Granted, I am on lock down, but still. It is an engaging read, even (perhaps especially) knowing that Weinstein was recently convicted of some of his crimes.

At the start, Farrow is working on multiple stories for NBC News, He is an employee, on a contract to investigate and produce serious stories. He spends many months investigating this one, but as he gets closer to wrapping it up and getting it ready for air, his bosses – and those higher up at NBC, get nervous. Very nervous. And not in an understandable way (for example, I completely understand, more so now than ever, why a woman would not want to tell her story publicly), but in an ‘is this really a big deal? Is it worth getting on the wrong side of a buddy?’ sort of way. It’s disgusting.

Farrow is eventually allowed to take his reporting to the New Yorker, publishing a bit after the New York Times publishes similar work with different sources. But the story then becomes not just about the crimes Weinstein committed, but about how he was able to get away with it for so long. NBC News provides a first-hand example of those in power buckling to protect their friends, and the cost of further allowing people to be victimized by predators.

Much of the focus is on Weinstein, including the private investigators he employed to intimidate and threaten sources, victims, and witnesses. But Farrow also discusses other known predators who have been protected — and even promoted — from justice. Matt Lauer and Donald Trump, to name two. He explores how the men in power just don’t care enough about what is right and wrong to do anything about it, and he also discusses some of the women who are complicit (*cough* Lisa Bloom *cough*).

I expected to be throwing the book across the room, because I knew that the reporting would make me angry. But I never got there. And I think that’s a credit to Farrow’s writing. I feel angry and frustration for these women, and rage at the systems that allow repeated predation. But instead of feeling helpless, the book made me feel hopeful that more women will feel that they can speak out, and more men might believe them and actually do something about it. Not in a naive way – I know most people in power are not great humans, and are mostly just concerned with keeping their power. But there are journalists, and editors, and prosecutors who do care, and are doing something.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a friend (my partner wants to read it next)