Jee reviews a #mustread: ‘Catch and Kill’ by @RonanFarrow @HachetteUS #CatchAndKill #investigativejournalism #metoo #nonfiction

Title/Author: Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow

Publisher: Hachette Book Group

In a nutshell (Publisher):

In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.

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.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook our culture.

Verdict: A compelling, shocking, timely, must-read!

My thoughts:

Harvey Weinstein. Thanks to Farrow, he is now more known as a sexual predator, a rapist, a criminal than a Hollywood (former) film producer and co-founder of Miramax. He preyed on women, used his specially-appointed ‘pimps’, who set up his appointments (usually in hotels) with the targeted women to make it feel business-like, then ‘forced’ them into his room, threatened and scared them shitless until they had no choice but to give in to his sexual demands. Weinstein then silenced them with a large amount of money and forced them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). After all that, he continued with his life like nothing happened (how sickening is that?!), that was, until Farrow came along.

Farrow was determined to expose this Hollywood’s sexual predator’s dark, dirty secrets, but was faced with challenges from people who were supposed to be supporting him. Believe it or not, his reporting and story were turned down by his boss, Mr. Oppenheim, at NBC, even after producing hard evidence (a recording of Weinstein admitting to a sexual assault) that Weinstein is a sexual predator, a rapist, a monster, and that he has been so for decades-long.

Farrow and his producer, Rich McHugh, were told to stop reaching out to sources and stop all reporting. Oppenheim even told Farrow to take his story elsewhere. And that was exactly what he did, which The New Yorker welcomed with open arms.

Farrow’s determination to get this story out didn’t come without a cost. Besides his career, his life was also threatened. He was being spied on – his every move and communication, was being surveilled by a group of private Israeli intelligence service, known as Black Cube, hired by who else, Mr. Weinstein of course.

This wasn’t an easy read for me. I was overcome with a lot of emotions – pained and saddened by what the survivors had to go through, perturbed and angry that there are monsters and serial abusers like Weinstein and Lauer, still among us, preying, attacking and silencing their victims with money and power, lying to everyone, even their friends, to protect themselves; whose manipulation and intimidation made the victims doubt their own story and made themselves drown in guilt and depression.

There were whispers and gossips, and witnesses, and some were told right from the horse’s mouth, not just about Weinstein, but also the higher-ups in NBC, but nobody did anything, for fear of getting their careers ruined. Even Farrow was guilty of keeping a distance. He told his sister, Dylan, to stop and move on with her life when she wanted to “revive her allegation of sexual assault” against their estranged dad, Woody Allen. That conversation they had was so painful to read, but it is as real as it can get.

The society is also guilty of trusting the monsters rather than the victims, saying that they asked for it, it’s the way they dress, or that it comes with their job, they did it to climb the ranks. So, can we blame them for not coming forward with their story? Even when they did, they were faced with skepticism and doubt, and some were accused of seeking for attention!

Many times I had to remind myself this is a non-fiction, real-life account and not a spy thriller, that whatever crazy, out-of-this world things that I thought can only happen movies, can happen in real life too. Farrow just proved it. The ‘Billion Dollar Whale’ proved it. Life is and can be stranger than fiction.

Despite all that, this book also offers hope. It has emboldened more women to come out and tell their stories. Farrow’s story sparked an energy, and it’s even spreading the #MeToo Movement like wildfire!

Thank you Rose McGowan, Emily Nester, Ambra Gutierrez, Ashley Judd, Asia Argento and all the other women who were so courageous in telling their stories, and a whistle-blower from within Black Cube, whose conscience got the better of her. “I’m an insider who is fed up with BC’s false and devious ways of obtaining material illegally,” and that she truly believes “HW is a sex offender and I’m ashamed as a woman for participating.”

This book is a must-read of the year. May it inspire more journalists to write and report these stories; may it give courage to more women to come forward with their stories, and may the society listen and offer them the support they need, and men give the respect that women deserve.

I recently found other books that speak of survivors of sexual harassment and rape – Know My Name by Channel Miller and A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong (Now the Netflix Limited Series ‘Unbelievable’, starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Denver) which I’m hoping to read.

*“Catch and Kill” is a practice of disreputable media companies buying a story (catch) to get it buried from ever being published (kill).

LATEST: Want more of the story behind Catch and Kill? Listen to Farrow’s Catch & Kill Podcast. Get it here!

Have you read this book? What did you think? What angered you the most? If you haven’t, do you intend to read it? Please share with me your thoughts!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. This book would be too harsh for me, but it’s an important subject. Excellent review, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Yes, I agree. Thank you so much, Jodie!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for this review, Jee! I really want to read this. Ronan Farrow amazes me. I also appreciate the reminder that I own “Unbelievable”- I guess with the Netflix release, they changed the title to the Netflix title. I would like to read it soon, too. Lovely review, my friend. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you so much, Jennifer! You have ‘Unbelieveable’? YES!! Looking forward to reading your review when you get to it! And Happy Thanksgiving to you too! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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