Ronan Farrow’s #metoo moment
Ronan Farrow’s #metoo moment
Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow is the target of a gossip ragman’s campaign of legal threats. The legal battle is brewing between investigative journalism and “extortionist” media. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the story that took down an accused serial rapist, Farrow is the latest #metoo target of Dylan Howard’s “catch and kill” tactics.
Ronan Farrow is no stranger to facing uphill battles. His unwavering support for his sister’s claims of sexual abuse by their father, Woody Allen, has placed him firmly on the side of the underdog. The release of his new book “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators” finds him in the legal crosshairs of Dylan Howard. Howard, Chief Content Officer & Vice-President of American Media, Inc, is a formidable opponent.
Farrow’s book is blurbed as,
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.”
Sexual abuse at the hands of powerful and well connected people is a huge, and incredibly important topic. One that crosses political, cultural, and every other distinguishing line. What about this book incites a media executive to preemptively quash, via multiple legal teams, an unreleased book? Nobody can say for certain, because the book isn’t available for two weeks.
If you’re hearing about my reporting before it’s published, it’s likely because parties with an interest in spinning or downplaying their role are putting out inaccurate characterizations of that reporting—take it with a grain of salt.
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) September 25, 2019
Howard has been cited as a participant in the “Catch and Kill” approach to journalism. Whereby a media publication will obtain the exclusive rights to a story, incorporate a strict non-disclosure agreement, and then effectively kill the story by never publishing it. This of course doesn’t mean the story ends. The Catch and Kill concept can force a reluctant partnership, because now a giant media conglomerate owns a potentially harmful story.
the Enquirer softened its coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger during his run for Governor of California in 2004, and paid $20,000 to “catch and kill” a story about an alleged affair. Schwarzenegger then acted as a consultant for AMI’s collection of fitness magazines, and was named executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex.”
A similar scenario happened between the AMI conglomerate and Tiger Woods,
the two sides hammered out a contract detailing guidelines for the interview and the photo shoot, as well as the guarantee that the story of Mr. Woods’s rendezvous in the church parking lot wouldn’t be printed.”
Most famously the world’s richest man became ensnared in this Catch and Kill style. Jeff Bezos uses the word “extortion” in his public blog about interactions with Dylan Howard and AMI,
Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)”
For the record, I’m incredibly blessed in my life. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I dream of the freedom that accompanies the echelon of “F YOU!” money. Personally, if I were Bezos, I’d buy the entire AMI conglomerate and it’s inventory of killed stories. Publish those things in the lagging WaPo and release everyone from the bonds of extortion.
Dylan Howard has faced accusations of inappropriate conduct in the workplace. From Newsweek,
Twelve of Howard’s former employees told the AP that Howard, who apparently referred to himself as “Dildo” in the office, would openly discuss his sexual partners and his female employees’ sexual habits in the newsroom. He was also accused of forcing female colleagues to watch or listen to pornography.”
A guy who has questionable editorial ethics, has been publicly accused of extortion, and accused of using his position to protect & enable abusers is now fighting the release of a book about powerful sexual predators. If anything, it makes me want to buy this book. In fact, I’m ordering it and will do a VG book review for the blog.
EXCLUSIVE: Former National Enquirer Editor threatens booksellers over Ronan Farrow exposé https://t.co/K7HUPoY0cc
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) October 2, 2019
Dylan Howard’s efforts to stymie the release of Ronan Farrow’s book cross international borders. He’s hired legal teams in Sydney, London, and New York in support of his attempt to ban the book. His team is threatening book publishers, and distributers (though something tells me Amazon may not care about his wishes). This is a very aggressive tactic for something that isn’t yet released. Does Howard expect to be personally damaged by the contents of the book? Is he the frontman for other people who are fearful of being listed? We won’t know until we read it. Thankfully the First Amendment will very likely protect the book in American markets. The same cannot be said for others. But, in this digital world where information spreads, be it true or not, Farrow’s book is bound to be an international best seller. If Mr. Howard is listed amongst the subjects, I can think of nothing more fitting for the man who helped publish the National Enquirer.