Ronan Farrow’s extraordinary Catch and Kill, in which he masterfully tells the story of his quest to reveal Weinstein’s repugnant activities to the world, doesn’t merely answer these questions. It makes them come to seem complacent, even profoundly stupid. Several times while reading it, I had the sense that, having been blind, I could now see – and for miles, too. But while this brought with it a certain bracing clarity, it hardly came as a relief. As some American critics have already observed, Farrow’s narrative has the pace of a thriller. Were it really a thriller, however, the collusion at its heart would be too much: you would dismiss it as airport pulp. Here is a conspiracy so deeply embedded and far-reaching that even as I write, those alleged to be involved not only remain in their jobs; in recent days, they have pugnaciously denied all wrongdoing in the matter of the reporting of Weinstein’s behaviour.
This is a modern thriller – yes. But as I read on, I kept thinking of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell. The network of spies and pimps; the spectacular betrayals like victim rights lawyer Lisa Bloom, who plays both sides until revealing herself as one of “Weinstein’s people”; the betrayals within betrayals, like Weinstein’s role in exposing NBC’s Lauer in order to inoculate himself against NBC’s scrutiny; the deeply compromised, like NBC’s misbegotten Tom Brokaw, one of the few Farrow trusted, ultimately exposed as an alleged perpetrator himself; the gullible and vulnerable, like Rose McGowan allowing a Black Cube operative into her confidence; the simply spineless, like NBC chief Noah Oppenheim who commissioned the story, had “talks” with Weinstein, then spiked the story. It reminds us of the visceral treachery of Bring Up The Bodies.
This compelling story does offer a glimmer of hope amid the ordure: these women might be finally exposing the corruption and exploitation that lies at the heart of American public life. They deserve the credit, but it’s worth a nod to Farrow, too. He can be terribly sanctimonious, but the man’s thirst for a story cannot be denied. He even uses the book to slip out the news that he is engaged to Jon Lovett, the podcaster and former Obama speechwriter. For Farrow, it’s a rare admission of private emotion. And yet another scoop.
Farrow knows he has a humdinger of a story, but he also has a nuanced appreciation of how women are smeared and discredited, of how the lines dividing news and show business have blurred... Farrow treads a difficult line in Catch and Kill... But he manages to hit the sweet spot. It’s more lively and wide-ranging than She Said, and Farrow’s quotes are often more vivid — although I’m not sure that makes it a better book. In its quiet, streamlined way, Kantor and Twohey’s account has real punch.
Catch and Kill is a rip-roaring account of the years spent chasing the Weinstein story and its spin-offs. It’s a deep dive into the world of US media, Hollywood pay-outs, Donald Trump’s eccentric ways, spies and spineless editors. And is it gripping... Farrow is a skilled storyteller, and the pacey book is absolutely – ironically – made for film. The subtitle, “Lies, spies, and a conspiracy to protect predators”, is enough of a sell alone.
We live in polarized times, but one thing still seems to be shared across the political divide: sexual misconduct. As Ronan Farrow documents in his absorbing new book, “Catch and Kill,” mistreating women is a bipartisan enterprise...“Catch and Kill” is mainly about these women’s stories, and the dueling efforts to suppress them and to bring them to light, though Farrow knows how to leaven the narrative, slipping in scenes of the occasional domestic squabble between him and his partner, the former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett, as well as offering some necessary comic relief.