Sexual Assault in Hollywood: Exposed by Ronan Farrow

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Catch and Kill" by Ronan Farrow. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Ronan Farrow? How did he expose the biggest sexual assault case in Hollywood?

In 2017, investigative reporter Ronan Farrow broke the story on the biggest sexual assault scandal to ever rock Hollywood. He exposed decades of sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood film producer and distributor Harvey Weinstein.

Keep reading for more about Ronan Farrow and how he exposed the pattern of sexual assault by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Sexual Assault in Hollywood: Harvey Weinstein’s Case

In 2017, investigative reporter Ronan Farrow published an expose on Harvey Weinstein, exposing decades of sexual abuse allegations against the Hollywood mogul. Chasing down leads and talking to women who bravely came forward to share their stories, Farrow exposed to the public how Weinstein used his power, wealth, and influence to intimidate and silence his victims, and how the media and legal systems allowed him to operate with impunity for decades.

Throughout his career, Weinstein had operated as a serial sexual predator. As Farrow discovered through conversations with dozens of women who risked their careers, reputations, and even physical safety to come forward, Weinstein’s abuse was systematic, routine, and disturbingly similar from victim to victim. 

The women, most of them aspiring actresses or producers, all recounted the same elements of their encounters with Weinstein—promises from him to advance their careers and make them into stars; a “meeting” scheduled; the time and location of the “meeting” changed at the last minute from daytime in a hotel lobby hotel to nighttime in a hotel suite or his private office; and the violent assault that would follow when they were alone with him. The common threads running through each of these stories lent credibility to all of them. It was a pattern of practiced, rehearsed predation.

But breaking this story proved far more difficult for Farrow than he could have possibly thought. Even in the earliest stages of his reporting, he quickly realized that his superiors at NBC were highly reluctant to run with his story: they treated the searing testimony from his sources with skepticism and gave Weinstein an extraordinary benefit of the doubt.

But Farrow refused to let the story die. So many women had risked so much to share their experiences. This had to come out. If NBC wasn’t going to run with it, Farrow needed to take it somewhere that would. In summer 2017, journalist Ken Auletta (who had nearly cracked the Weinstein case himself back in 2002), brokered a meeting between Farrow and David Remnick of the print magazine The New Yorker. 

Remnick was outraged to learn that NBC was refusing to air the story or let Farrow speak to more sources. Remnick told Farrow that if NBC was unwilling to air the story, The New Yorker would. On October 10, 2017, Ronan Farrow’s piece, “From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories,” appeared in The New Yorker, breaking open the dam on an ugly aspect of American life that extended to the highest levels of power.

Sexual Assault in Hollywood: Exposed by Ronan Farrow

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Ronan Farrow's "Catch and Kill" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Catch and Kill summary:

  • How Ronan Farrow uncovered rampant sexual abuse and assault by Harvey Weinstein
  • How NBC tried to intimidate Farrow into killing the Weinstein story
  • How the media and legal systems let Weinstein's abuse continue for decades

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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