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Investigative reporter Ronan Farrow, author "Catch and Kill," last week in New York. His new book delves into the Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer cases, among others. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Mary Inhea Kang
Investigative reporter Ronan Farrow, author "Catch and Kill," last week in New York. His new book delves into the Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer cases, among others. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Mary Inhea Kang (For The Washington Post)

Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” won’t be out until Tuesday, but it is already the No. 1 seller on Amazon. But that’s only one of the reasons this chronicle of Farrow’s efforts to tell the story of film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s predatory sexual behavior is such an important work.

I was part of panel Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” discussing the book. It included Irin Carmon, senior writer from New York magazine who has written extensively on sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement, and Brian Stelter, host of the show.

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For those not familiar with the backstory, Farrow started investigating Weinstein while an employee of NBC, but wound up publishing his work in the New Yorker and winning a Pulitzer Prize for it. “Catch and Kill” is an engaging and illuminating tale of the state of network TV news today. It would be hard to look worse than NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and Chairman Andy Lack are looking these days as Farrow recounts his troubled tenure with NBC News, despite their denials of Farrow’s allegation of a coverup by NBC.

Historically this book is going to have lasting importance as a vividly detailed, in-the-trenches account of the epic effort it took to try to bring down just a piece of the wall of patriarchy that has kept women exploited and oppressed in the media industry and American life forever. And, in that sense, I cannot praise Ronan Farrow enough.

His narrative is that of a titanic struggle. On the one hand, you have Farrow and the women who say they were victimized trying to bring the men in power to a reckoning by telling the stories of horrible things the men allegedly did. On the other side, you have the effort by some grotesquely powerful men to silence their victims with shaming, threats of ending their careers, possible violence and the ever-present non-disclosure forms. The heroes here are the women who came forward and told their stories. But Farrow is standing shoulder to shoulder with them and using his great talent as a journalist to help some of them find their voices.

I have been saying for years that patriarchy is Old Testament old, and it is not going to change overnight with a few CEOs and network executives (on the advice of crisis management consultants) saying, “We are going to change the culture.”

Cultures do not change overnight. People like Weinstein, former CBS CEO Les Moonves and former NBC “Today Show” co-host Matt Lauer (who Farrow alleges, in his book, raped an NBC producer) don’t give up power out of a sense of goodness and decency. Men who have been socialized all their lives to the notion that they have dominion over women need to have power taken away from them.

“Catch and Kill” captures for the ages what it took in the second decade of the 21st century to start to change the culture: years and years of work by outstanding journalists, lives and careers of myriad victims being ruined, expensive and possibly illegal campaigns by the oppressors to scare off reporters and keep victims silent and, oh yeah, those lovely non-disclosure forms.

I never accepted NBC’s past claims that management knew nothing of Lauer’s predatory behavior. Now with the reporting in this book, I laugh in the face of the current spin campaign by NBC President Noel Oppenheim and CEO Andy Lack to try to doubledown on those claims.

And here’s some of the reaction to it:

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