Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

by Ronan Farrow

Hardcover, 2019


Checked out
Due Jul 6, 2020


Little, Brown and Company (2019), 464 pages


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member joyhclark
Well that was an eye-opening, incredibly disturbing, yet not-entirely-surprising ride. If you're still on the fence about whether powerful men go to any lengths to get away with shit against women, you should probably read this book. If you suffer from high blood pressure and have been told by your doctor to minimize stress and anger, maybe sit this one out.… (more)
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow is about the difficulty he had reporting on the Weinstein case. He also mentions trump, Woody Allen and the guys at NBC. It kind of reads like a spy novel with powerful men seeming to have unlimited resources to keep themselves out of the legal system. He also tells of women feeling they should have done something different to protect themselves. So the women not only have to suffer the rape and degradation, they have to think it was possibly their own fault.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookchickdi
With the Harvey Weinstein trial going on in New York City right now, Ronan Farrow's book, Catch and Kill is a timely read.

Farrow was working as an investigative journalist for NBC News after his afternoon MSBNC show was cancelled. In Catch and Kill, he details how he and his NBC News producer Rich McHugh spent months tracking down women who said that they had been sexually assaulted by mega- Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

They tracked down women, like actress Rose McGowan, who had written cryptic tweets about being sexually assaulted by a studio head, and got them to tell their stories on tape. Farrow went to Noah Oppenheim, the executive in charge of the Today show, and Oppenheim encouraged him to keep digging.

But soon that stopped. When Weinstein heard what Farrow was doing, he exerted his considerable influence with the top people at NBCUniversal to put a stop to Farrow's investigation. Farrow also discovered that he was being followed by two shady guys hired by Weinstein to see what he was up to.

Farrow and McHugh eventually were told to stop their investigation, even though they had more than enough evidence to bring the women's allegations to air. Oppenheim, who had been supportive of Farrow, told him they didn't have enough evidence, but he was free to take his story to a print publication.

Which is what Farrow did. David Remnick at The New Yorker magazine welcomed Farrow, and he and his team worked with Farrow to vet all of the evidence, and published a damning piece in the magazine that went on to eventually win Farrow the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

Farrow also recounts working on stories about Matt Lauer's sexual abuse allegations that got Lauer fired from Today, as well as the publisher of The National Enquirer 's cozy relationship with Donald Trump. The title of the book, Catch and Kill comes from the Enquirer's policy of paying sources for information about Trump's extramarital affairs, then hiding the evidence in a safe, thereby "killing" the story before the 2016 presidential election.

Reading Catch and Kill, you are astonished at how the circle of wealthy, powerful men who commit these heinous acts intersect, and the people (mostly, but not all, men) who rally around them (including supposedly reputable law firms) to protect them. It will anger you, and rightfully so.

And you will feel anguish for the women who suffered greatly, first after bring assaulted by these men, and then being victimized again after coming out in public with their experiences. The #MeToo movement that enveloped the world came about from the far too many brave who women spoke out on social media about their experiences.

Catch and Kill is well-written, and fast-paced, feeling almost like one of your favorite fictional thrillers. Unfortunately, it isn't fiction, but reality. I highly recommend it.

Farrow also has a podcast that delves deeper into his book.
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LibraryThing member clamairy
[Catch and Kill] by [[Ronan Farrow]] is only partially about his involvement in the investigation & reporting on Harvey Weinstein's repeated sexual assault & harassment of subordinates & actresses. It's also about other's who have paid off friends or news agencies to kill similar stories about themselves over the decades. And it's about the upper echelons of certain corporations who covered for these people to protect themselves or one of their own. Trump, for one. Bill Clinton, for another. Half of Fox News, apparently, & quite a few assholes in positions of power at NBC.

It's very well written. [[Farrow]] is a skilled journalist who just happens to be brilliant to boot. It's a worthy read, but be prepared to be horrified and then preoccupied with the contents for quite a while afterwards.
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LibraryThing member LisCarey
In 2017, Ronan Farrow began to get hints of a potentially explosive story--one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood was a major sexual predator. As he and his producer worked on the story, finding more and more women willing to talk to them, they got encouragement and support--and obstacles that seemed to make no sense at all. For instance, reporters talk to people bound by non-disclosure agreements all the time; investigative reporting would be impossible without it. Yet Farrow and his producer were being told that this could result in NBC being sued for "tortious interference."

That's just one example of the real opposition underneath the superficial support.

What follows is a difficult, confusing, sometimes dangerous search for the truth, for evidence, and women willing to speak on the record. Farrow's own family is used against him, in an attempt to paint him as "biased" because his sister was sexually abused by their father, Woody Allen. There was no connection to Weinstein, and amounted to saying that anyone who had ever known someone who was sexually harassed was "too biased" to cover a sexual harassment story. He started to see hints he was being followed, but it was quite a while before he knew he was being tracked by Black Cube, an Israeli private security company. He found himself being pushed out of NBC, which had been his dream job.

The very people he had thought would support his explosive investigative journalism turned out to be worried about their own reputations, with good reason.

It's a fascinating, excellent book, that will make you very angry.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.
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LibraryThing member nyiper
In this time of so much that is being labeled "fake" news it is somewhat horrifying to have such an incredible account of what was done with Ronan Farrow's work---the efforts to silence an incredible investigative journalist by a "respected" (???) news network. I was impressed, as was Ronan, with Rachel Maddow's efforts to get to the truth and in her success in insisting that he be "allowed" to be on her show by NBC. As Farrow explains so brilliantly, his book is only the beginning of this gigantic problem (and of only one of many more on his list of problems to investigate) is one where women have been bullied, harassed, attacked, raped, and it goes on...and on. It occurs anywhere there is power and money--in government, in industry, in the military and as his book portrays, in our news networks. Very, very depressing and I'm not sure where the solutions are going to come from--how do you make people understand and believe what is true when there are so many false contradictions being presented?… (more)
LibraryThing member Susan.Macura
I read this as Harvey Weinstein's trial in New York was just beginning, making this a very timely read. What was amazing to me was just how difficult it was to tell the story of the various women involved in these cases, as author Ronan Farrow had to deal with those in power who used every means available to sweep these stories under the rug that included intimidation, threats to everyone's careers and spies. It is amazing to me that despite all of this, Farrow and the other brave reporters involved in uncovering the corruption and cover-ups committed by too many men in power continued their work despite everything thrown in their way. We are all indebted to them for their awesome reporting and their assistance in forcing many people to be held accountable for how they abused their positions to the detriment of others. This was a great book.… (more)
LibraryThing member ASKelmore
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.

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)
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LibraryThing member kaulsu
I deducted half a star for Rowan's inability to credibly mimic anyone's accent. Really, the producers should have used a stand-in for piece of the narration--or just had Rowan do a straight reading. I also deducted half a star for my inability to keep my interest in reading the explicit (nauseatingly explicit) details of the various assaults. THERE WERE SO MANY!

Yet I was compelled to read this account, both out of gratitude for Rowan's tenacity in reporting this story, and to honor the women who found the courage to come forward with their truth. Since I generally only listen to audiobooks while I am driving in my car, and since there is nowhere to go during this Pandemic, I took my nearly two months to finish it.
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LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
Farrow's exhaustive investigation into one of the most flagrant Hollywood scandals in history should be required reading for all journalism majors. True, the "exhaustive" probe could become "exhausting" for some readers as they wade through numerous detail-crammed chapters. Some reviews have understandably lamented that the author's day-by-day, journal-like accounts bog down an otherwise fascinating work. However, that's what quality journalism is all about — unearthing every possible angle and doggedly following every lead. Could "Catch and Kill" have been edited in a way that makes it just a bit more accessible for a general audience? Probably. But such an editing ritual would obscure one of the most important themes of this groundbreaking book: solid journalism is the byproduct or diligence, determination — and drudgery.… (more)
LibraryThing member larryerick
I have to say up front that I was disappointed in this book, especially after having read Jodi Kantor's and Megan Twohey's book, She Said, which covers much of the same territory. (I acknowledge this book goes into a few areas not covered by the other book.) This too often leans more toward a memoir by a celebrity than investigative journalism. I mean, put aside that one could just read magazine articles and watch video snippets of the events in question (which I have) and come out pretty much the same place in knowing what did or did not happen. (There's a particular news program video interview with the author where he uses word for word text from the book, and I don't mean he's reading from his book.) Some reviewers have said this book reads like a spy novel. Indeed, it does at times. At times, he goes out of his way to tell you about unknown characters doing things, purposely hiding their identities from the reader, when he clearly knows who they are as he writes about them. Very Alfred Hitchcockian in his not showing all. And yet, numerous other times, he lays out events that were taking place apart from him, that he did not know about at the time, but learned of since. In short, he cherry-picks what events to fully disclose concurrent with his own activities, presumably only for dramatic effect. He also spends ample time talking about his personal life in the midst of his journalistic pursuits. Will he be killed? Won't he be killed? Etc. The Kantor-Twohey book avoids all that. This author makes his life a significant part of the narrative. Will readers who have yet to catch up on what did or did not transpire with Harvey Weinstein, and NBC News, and the rest, be drawn into this book, the way it is written? No doubt. It will particularly appeal to people who much prefer fiction over non-fiction, because, well, it bends over a little too far over backwards to read like popular fiction. On the other hand, you could save the cost of the book, go online and read a small handful of magazine articles, watch a few brief YouTube videos and know pretty much the same, but that wouldn't be very much like an Alfred Hitchcock film, would it?… (more)
LibraryThing member LynnB
I feel very naive after reading this book. I had no idea of the extent -- the breadth and depth -- of networks and activities that protect powerful men from suffering the consequences of their actions. I also feel very impressed by the bravery of those who found the strength to speak out.

In terms of a book, I found the narrative a bit hard to follow at times....maybe because I'm not a Hollywood fan? I didn't even know that Mr. Farrow is Mia Farrow's son! So, sometimes, I forgot who some of the backroom players were and how they fit in. But I enjoyed both the main story, and the story about how Mr. Farrow struggled to get it out.… (more)
LibraryThing member Narshkite
What a story. Want to hate the patriarchy and doubt television news even more? This is your book. Farrow lived and breathed this story, and his experience is chilling and fascinating. Farrow never makes this about him, its about the women, but a lot of people were trying to shoot the messenger and that story needs telling too. Impossible to stop listening. Btw Farrow reads and does it well.… (more)
LibraryThing member pdebolt
This accounting of the sexual depravities of men in power is extremely well written and extensively researched. It is horrifying to know how long this went on and how many were victimized. Many kudos to those with the courage to come forward. Wonder if Harvey Weinstein is hobbling along with a walker in prison and if Bill Cosby is still protesting his innocence? These practices went on too long with perpetrators being held unaccountable. Ronan Farrow is a skilled reporter and talented writer.… (more)


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