Review of Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
“In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out, and stories—the big ones, the true ones, can be caught, but never killed.”
This is a horrifying and fascinating look at the elaborate schemes undertaken by Harvey Weinstein and associates but also other various media, show business, and political individuals and entities to not only cover up instances but altogether deny an existing culture of male sexual power plays, rape, and various other disturbing abuses of power. Carefully researched and documented, with twists and turns that feel so outlandish as to seem like fiction at times.
In Catch and Kill, Farrow also explores the difficulty the long-silenced victims have in bravely deciding to tell their stories, as well as the challenges and fears of those who can corroborate events and the threats to reporters who are trying to help the truth come out.
This quote appears toward the end of the book regarding the denials from Noah Oppenheim at NBC, but it feels like a relevant overlay for the many villains outed in the book:
“...[there was] an unwillingness not just to take responsibility, but to admit that responsibility might, in some place, in someone’s hands, exist. It was ‘a consensus of the comfort level of the organization moving forward’ that bowed to lawyers’ threats, that hemmed and hawed and parsed and shrugged, that sat on multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct and disregarded a recorded admission of guilt. That anodyne phrase, that language of indifference without ownership, upheld so much silence in so many places. It was ‘a consensus of the comfort level of the organization moving forward’ that protected Harvey Weinstein and those like him; that yawned and gasped and enveloped law firms, and PR shops, and executive suites, and industries; that swallowed women whole.”
I listened to the audiobook, and at first I was so distracted by Farrow’s versions of others’ voices and accents—*especially* the way he voiced women with foreign accents—that I told a friend who had listened to the book that I really wasn’t sure I could go on with it. I ultimately found this entertaining (and there is one moment in which he transforms his voice while realizing an informant is not the gender he had originally thought that was absolutely fantastic).
What did you think?
Difficult but important to read.
But: Is it a good idea to read books that enrage you by shining a light on horrific injustices while you're home during a pandemic? Because I seem to keep doing this.