Catch and Kill was one of my favourite non-fiction books of 2019. I read it in three days, hardly able to put it down. The core of the book is Ronan Farrow’s investigation of Harvey Weinstein and later Matt Lauer, while Farrow was working for NBC. NBC’s culture of misogamy is shocking.
The book reads as a mystery with clues littered along the way. Spies and counterspies, spy pens and veiled threats lend an almost surreal element to the book. The betrayals that sexual assault victims, such as Rose McGowan and others suffered was heartbreaking. What stood out to me was the long-term trauma caused by rape and sexual harassment, not just the brutality of the act itself, but the aftermath when the women came forward. Their accounts were minimized and discounted; they were threatened by their attackers and bosses, and their reputations were smeared. In part, thanks to David Pecker at The National Enquirer.
The plethora of non-disclosure agreements to shut the women up says it all. In the business, this is routinely called ‘catch and kill.’ The courage of these women to speak truth to power, despite their fear, is inspiring. And Ronan Farrow’s persistence, in the face of so many roadblocks and challenges, comes across as heroic. For a movie on a similar theme, watch Bombshell, about the late Roger Ailes, head of Fox News. This docudrama shows that the misogyny at NBC is not a one off, but pervasive in the news and entertainment business.