Ronan Farrow Stands By His Reporting On NBC's 'Corrosive' Secrecy Around Sexual Abuse Farrow tells NPR powerful media executives went to great lengths to kill his story on sexual assault allegations, to the point where he thought, if it didn't see light, "more people would get hurt."
NPR logo

Ronan Farrow Stands By His Reporting On NBC's 'Corrosive' Secrecy Around Sexual Abuse

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/769326096/769848668" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ronan Farrow Stands By His Reporting On NBC's 'Corrosive' Secrecy Around Sexual Abuse

Ronan Farrow Stands By His Reporting On NBC's 'Corrosive' Secrecy Around Sexual Abuse

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/769326096/769848668" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

In the new book "Catch And Kill," journalist Ronan Farrow tells how he investigated sexual assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, behavior that many have claimed was long an open secret in Hollywood. Elsewhere in today's program, Farrow talks about Weinstein's attempt to stop that reporting. Farrow also spoke about the women in his book - the ones who were initially reluctant to go on the record because they'd signed nondisclosure agreements or were scared of Weinstein. Farrow says Weinstein even hired Black Cube, an Israeli private intelligence agency, to intimidate the women, including actress Rose McGowan, one of the first women to speak out against him.

RONAN FARROW: These are horrific things to do - gaslighting a rape victim, intimidating reporters, using false identities and front companies to try to secretly ferret out information and quash stories. You know, there were dossiers of attempted kompromat being generated on everyone around this story, including me. And that's got to stop in this country.

Rose McGowan's experience is a great example of this. I think when people read this book, they'll be rightly outraged about what Rose went through. And her story has been dismissed by the media prior to it ultimately breaking and being somewhat vindicated by the facts. She has been called crazy repeatedly, but she was being tortured and gaslit. And it reached the point where she tells this woman she thinks is one of her closest friends, at one point, I can't trust anyone in the world except you. And that woman is a spy with a false identity, secretly recording her and giving those recordings to her alleged rapist.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the ways in which you sort of depict this moment when you were doing this reporting is by quoting some quite famous actresses, among them Daryl Hannah, who was allegedly harassed by Weinstein in the early 2000s. She said she told anyone who'd listen and that it didn't matter. You quote her saying it doesn't matter if you're a well-known actress; it doesn't matter if you're 20 or if you're 40; it doesn't matter if you report or you don't because we are not believed. We are more than not believed. We are berated and criticized and blamed.

FARROW: Daryl Hannah is one of the many examples of people who reported this in a thorough way. And we talked to a number of people that she had told, and nothing was done about it.

And Ambra Gutierrez is another terrific example of someone who did everything right in terms of reporting an alleged crime. She went straight to other people that she told and then, after that, straight to the police within hours. She did a brave high-wire act of going back to her alleged assailant and extracting a taped confession. And because of the way in which systems of power self-protect - and Harvey Weinstein was able to subvert the media to run items smearing her reputation - the private espionage world - to dig up kompromat on her. This was corruption that caused people to look the other way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You turn again and again to your sister in this book, Dylan Farrow, who has accused your father, Woody Allen, of sexually abusing her when she was a child. You call her a turning point in the investigation. You haven't really talked about your family history in detail before. And you write that she urged you to continue reporting on Weinstein, that she was really pivotal for you.

FARROW: I was not always heroic on this issue in my own life - far from it. I really let down my sister. You know, for years, I was the guy in her life saying, why don't you just shut up about this? And in every story I've reported since, I've found that there is always someone like that - that very often, sources have a husband, a sibling, a best friend, a co-worker, an agent, a manager saying, this is going to be a heap of trouble for you; just stay quiet.

And society, in many ways, was in that role for a long time. And I understand that because I was that guy. And I narrate honestly the years of conversations we had where I was distraught that she was reviving her claim, which she's always maintained consistently over the decades, and that she was insistent that it was important. And over the course of the story of "Catch And Kill," I really come to understand that it was important.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Harvey Weinstein is pleading not guilty at his upcoming rape trial. Some of the women that you spoke to, I believe, will have to testify. What are your thoughts about his day in court?

FARROW: I know that there's ongoing conversation about who testifies and who doesn't. I know that some of that has involved Annabella Sciorra, an extraordinarily brave woman who told a body-blow of a story about her alleged rape by Harvey Weinstein which has stayed with me forever, as all these stories do. But she was, you know, on the end of the spectrum of survivors of sexual violence who really had to suffer just to tell that story again.

And if she winds up telling that story in court, it is a great public service to the criminal justice system and something that comes at a dear cost to her. Her life has been irrevocably changed by this, and she is, without a doubt, extraordinarily credible. Her claim checked out to the nth degree. And I am very grateful that she was in the reporting and for her even considering going through hell again to help the criminal proceedings.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ronan Farrow's book is "Catch And Kill." Thank you very much.

FARROW: Thank you, Lulu. Always a pleasure.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.