Catch and Kill Book Summary - Catch and Kill Book explained in key points
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Catch and Kill summary

Ronan Farrow

Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

4.3 (38 ratings)
37 mins

Brief summary

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow is a gripping account of his investigation into powerful men who had been accused of sexual misconduct. It exposes their tactics to silence victims and the behind-the-scenes power dynamics that enabled them to continue their abusive behavior.

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    Catch and Kill
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    NBC’s response to a scandal involving one of its hosts was the first sign it was uncomfortable reporting on sexual abuse.

    In early October 2016, the Washington Post released a leaked recording that showed presidential candidate Donald Trump having what the paper called an “extremely lewd conversation about women.” Readers who clicked on the link found a three-minute video filmed in 2005 for the celebrity gossip show Access Hollywood. In it, Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.” 

    It was a bombshell. Papers and TV stations across the United States rushed to report on the Post’s potentially election-defining scoop. One network, however, seemed reluctant to enter the fray – the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC for short. 

    Access Hollywood belonged to NBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal, and the video put the corporation in a tight spot. It hadn’t just recorded Trump’s coarse comments – it also captured the show’s host, Billy Bush, happily agreeing that “you can do anything” to women when you’re a star. NBC had recently promoted Bush, and when it did air the video, it cut its star presenter’s most offensive remarks out. 

    That wasn’t the worst of it. How long had NBC known about the tape and, more to the point, how long had the network been sitting on it? Senior executives claimed that the story hadn’t been broadcast earlier because it was still under legal review. That wasn’t true – in fact, two NBCUniversal lawyers had cleared it for release. 

    This wasn’t the only story NBC was concerned about. 

    Ronan Farrow, a young reporter who had joined the network back in 2013, was frustrated. The host of the investigative segment on the Today show, Farrow had just finished a report about colleges botching sexual assault investigations on campus. It was a solid piece of journalism, but his superiors were blocking it. What was going on? 

    The problem became clear when Farrow looked at the programming schedule: his report was set to air as Bush issued an on-screen apology. Farrow would be explaining why sexual assault needed to be taken more seriously while Bush was effectively claiming that his comments didn’t merit him losing his job. There were two ways to solve this jarring contrast: address it head-on or attempt to make the problem go away. 

    NBCUniversal chose the latter path, quietly suspending Bush and running a spot on Adderall abuse in place of Farrow’s original report. Farrow texted his producer, the barrel-chested and plain-spoken TV veteran Rich McHugh, with a blunt question. Was NBC scared of broadcasting sexual assault stories? 

    McHugh’s answer? “Yes.” 

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    What is Catch and Kill about?

    Catch and Kill (2019) is the gripping inside account of how the abuses of Hollywood’s most notorious predator, Harvey Weinstein, were brought to light. Along the way, veteran investigative reporter Ronan Farrow unpicks the conspiracy of silence that attempted to prevent his findings from ever being published and help Weinstein evade accountability for his history of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. 

    Catch and Kill Review

    Catch and Kill (2019) is a gripping exposé on the dark underbelly of power, covering sexual misconduct and media manipulation. Here's why we recommend reading it:

    • Featuring intensive investigative journalism, this book uncovers shocking revelations and brings them to light, offering a unique perspective on a high-profile scandal.
    • Ronan Farrow's meticulous research and firsthand accounts give readers an inside look at the efforts to suppress the truth, making it a page-turner from start to finish.
    • With its unflinching pursuit of justice and the voices of courageous survivors, the book is an important testament to the power of journalism in exposing abuse and holding the powerful accountable.

    Best quote from Catch and Kill

    This precarious culture of secrecy made NBC more vulnerable to Weinsteins intimidation and enticement.

    —Ronan Farrow
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    Who should read Catch and Kill?

    • Journalists and reporters
    • Media industry insiders 
    • Women’s rights advocates

    About the Author

    Ronan Farrow is a contributing writer to the New Yorker and the author of many meticulously documented accounts of wrongdoing in high places. His reporting has won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the National Magazine Award, and the George Polk Award. Farrow was previously an anchor and reporter for MSNBC and NBC News. Before taking up journalism, he served as a State Department official. Farrow is also the author of War on Peace, a 2018 study of American diplomacy. 

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    Catch and Kill FAQs 

    What is the main message of Catch and Kill?

    The main message of Catch and Kill is the systematic cover-up of sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry.

    How long does it take to read Catch and Kill?

    The reading time for Catch and Kill varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Catch and Kill a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Catch and Kill is a gripping and important read. It sheds light on an industry-wide problem and the abuse of power, making it worth the read.

    Who is the author of Catch and Kill?

    The author of Catch and Kill is Ronan Farrow.

    What to read after Catch and Kill?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Catch and Kill, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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