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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ronan Farrow tells Stephen Colbert he’s seen the “master list” of Trump dirt buried by the Enquirer

Illustration for article titled Ronan Farrow tells Stephen Colbert he’s seen the “master list” of Trump dirt buried by the Enquirer
Photo: Scott Kowalchyk (CBS)

Once more showing he’s the Grim Reaper for powerful assholes, journalist Ronan Farrow appeared on Wednesday’s Late Show to unpack all the dirt he couldn’t spill last time he was on the show. That dirt? The ways in which his groundbreaking story two years ago in The New Yorker about sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein and the person now soiling the White House was unsuccessfully killed by his then-bosses at NBC, and how an ongoing arrangement among Donald Trump, Weinstein, and the National Enquirer is all about “catching and killing” stories about rich and influential sex criminals.

Colbert, noting that, naturally, he’d flipped right to page 401 of Farrow’s new book (titled Catch And Kill, appropriately) because that’s where Colbert himself made an appearance, quoted his question to Farrow about that pressure two years ago on The Late Show. Then, Farrow had had to play it cagey about how NBC had explicitly ordered Farrow and his producer to “stand down” in the investigation that helped bring the already burgeoning #MeToo movement into national prominence, despite, as Farrow said, both NBC’s standards and legal departments having cleared it. “We have all, in our profession in the last few years, dealt with this struggle of, ‘What do you do when it hits your own house?,’” explained Farrow, stating flatly that it was “his own bosses” at NBC who were part of the same media machine that was actively engaged in widespread coverup of sexual misconduct by powerful men.

And that’s just the so-called “reputable” news organizations. As Farrow went on to reveal, American Media Incorporated, owners of the tabloid National Enquirer, has made a hearty side-industry of quietly working to buy up the rights to every sordid Weinstein, Trump, and who knows who else story of sexual impropriety (up to and including rape), only to work deals with the subjects of those stories to make sure they’re locked up forever in the Enquirer vaults. Unluckily for the Enquirer (and AMI boss and frequent White House guest, David Pecker), vaults ain’t shit to Ronan Farrow, who, he told Colbert, has seen the “master list” of the 60-plus stories on Trump that the tabloid had been hiding. Explaining how the Trump-Enquirer hush money deal not only opened Trump up to potential blackmail, but also constituted likely violations of election law, Farrow said that the buried stories include tales of “five affairs,” a possible love child, and various allegations of sexual assault, including one by a woman claiming she was raped by Trump while she was underage, having been trafficked for that purpose by late, convicted pedophile-to-the-rich-and-soulless, Jeffrey Epstein.

Farrow elaborated that he himself has not investigated the truth behind any of these expensively buried accusations against the president. But the fact that the Trump camp essentially had an action team dedicated to paying for silence is all part of the massive media machine that he’s worked to dismantle. “It’s hard to speak truth to power when it’s your boss,” Farrow said, both of his decision to out his NBC bosses’ shadiness, and of Colbert’s choice to demand his own boss, accused sexual predator and CBS head Les Moonves, face public scrutiny and consequences for his actions. He also went into how various subjects of his book went to enormous, sometimes frightening lengths to deter him from his investigations, including Russian spies tracking his cell phone, threatening calls and texts, and, finally, a series of “whistleblowers” coming forward to inform him just how much shady scrutiny he was under. As Farrow put it, “I didn’t know if I was going crazy,” but added that those whistleblowers and the choice of outlets (not NBC or the Enquirer, natch’) to stand up to such harassment is indicative that “a free press is alive and well.”


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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