This Time, Ronan Farrow Is the Subject of Scrutiny

Ben Smith of 'New York Times' sees fundamental flaws in Farrow's reporting
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2020 1:42 PM CDT
Media Critic Faults Ronan Farrow's Reporting
Ronan Farrow, a contributing writer for the New Yorker, speaks with reporters at Associated Press headquarters in New York, Friday, July 27, 2018.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Pulitzer-winning journalist Ronan Farrow is usually the one writing critical stories of his subjects, as Harvey Weinstein can attest. This time, though, the tables are turned. Media writer Ben Smith of the New York Times has written a lengthy critical analysis of Farrow's reporting and finds that it comes up short. "If you scratch at Mr. Farrow’s reporting in The New Yorker and in his 2019 best seller, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, you start to see some shakiness at its foundation," writes Smith. "He delivers narratives that are irresistibly cinematic—with unmistakable heroes and villains—and often omits the complicating facts and inconvenient details that may make them less dramatic." In particular, Smith takes Farrow to task for failing to corroborate the claims of the people he interviews, including accusers of Weinstein and NBC's Matt Lauer.

An example: In his book, Farrow talks to a woman who says that after Lauer assaulted her, she immediately ran to the new man she was seeing, a producer at the network, and told him. But neither Farrow nor his book fact-checker actually called the man to confirm. Smith did. "The 'new guy' told me that, in fact, he doesn’t remember the scene that was portrayed in the book," writes Smith. Farrow stands by that account, however, and more generally tells the Times that he brings "caution, rigor, and nuance" to his stories. "I'm proud of a body of reporting that has helped to expose wrongdoing and to bring important stories into public view." Read the full piece, which calls into question a previous Farrow story about the supposed disappearance of Michael Cohen's financial records, as well as Farrow's assertion that Hillary Clinton was trying to protect Weinstein. (More Ronan Farrow stories.)

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