catch and kill
October 15, 2019

American Media Inc. and its soon-to-be-sold tabloid National Enquirer shredded secret documents potentially damaging to President Trump right before the 2016 election, Ronan Farrow writes in his new book, Catch & Kill. After reporters for The Wall Street Journal called AMI to ask about a $150,000 payout to a former Playboy model whose story about an extramarital affair with Trump was never published in the pro-Trump tabloid, a panicked Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard ordered a staffer to "get everything out of the safe," adding, "we need to get a shredder down there," Farrow writes, according to Politico and CNN.

"The staffer opened the safe, removed a set of documents, and tried to wrest it shut," Farrow recounts, and an Enquirer employee said a trash crew collected "a larger than customary volume of refuse" that day. After the news of AMI's secret Trump files came out, Farrow says, "reporters would discuss the safe like it was the warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, but it was small and cheap and old."

The Journal published its article Nov. 4, 2016, and along with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's $130,000 hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, it formed the backbone of a post-election scandal that eventually ended in a three-year jail sentence for Cohen. AMI cooperated in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

As scrutiny of Trump's close relationship with AMI and its publisher, David Pecker, grew, the materials were moved to a bigger safe. It was then that an employee "found something amiss: the list of Trump dirt didn't match up with the physical files," Farrow writes. "Some of the material had gone missing." Howard, who has retained a lawyer and is considering legal action, declined to comment on Farrow's reporting. AMI said in a statement that "Mr. Farrow's narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources and while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue." Peter Weber

October 9, 2019

Harvey Weinstein pressured NBC News into killing an investigation into his alleged sexual abuse using dirt on Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow alleges in his new book.

Farrow in October 2017 published allegations of sexual abuse against Weinstein, but his New Yorker exposé was originally intended to be published by NBC News. In his new book Catch and Kill, Farrow alleges that prior to NBC's decision not to run his story, Weinstein "made it known to the network that he was aware of Lauer's behavior and capable of revealing it," The Hollywood Reporter writes. Farrow reports Weinstein used dirt about Lauer, who was then host of Today, obtained by the National Enquirer to pressure NBC into killing the investigation, citing anonymous sources at NBC and AMI, the Enquirer's publisher. This reportedly occurred after Weinstein strategized with AMI's chief content officer, Dylan Howard.

NBC has denied Farrow's claim, saying it was never "made aware in any way of any threats." The network has said it was not aware of alleged misconduct by Lauer until firing him in November 2017, and NBC News Chair Andy Lack in 2018 said Farrow's reporting wasn't run because it wasn't "yet fit to broadcast."

Weinstein reportedly felt, though, that he had successfully pressured NBC into spiking the story, with Farrow reporting Weinstein bragged in his office, "If I can get a network to kill a story, how hard can a newspaper be?" He was referring to The New York Times, which in October 2017 broke the story about the misconduct allegations against him.

Sometime after Weinstein was informed Farrow wasn't working on the story for NBC, Farrow reports NBC News President Noah Oppenheim engaged with Weinstein in a friendly email about Megyn Kelly's debut in which Oppenheim wrote, "Thanks Harvey, appreciate the well-wishes," per the Reporter. Weinstein reportedly then sent him a bottle of vodka. Brendan Morrow

October 7, 2019

Ronan Farrow has released a new book excerpt diving into how he was surveilled while investigating Harvey Weinstein that reads like something out of a spy novel.

The reporter, who in 2017 published an exposé detailing rape allegations against the disgraced producer, published an excerpt in The New Yorker Monday from his book Catch and Kill, which details how he was surveilled during the course of his reporting by two operatives, Igor Ostrovskiy and Roman Khaykin, working for an Israeli private-intelligence agency, Black Cube, reportedly hired by Weinstein.

The two men, Farrow writes, staked out his apartment and followed him, including once to the New Yorker offices.

"Some days, they would stay in Khaykin's car, a silver Nissan Pathfinder," he writes. "Other times, the two would use separate cars. Khaykin would be ready to follow me if I left the building, and Ostrovskiy would keep an eye on my apartment. When separated, they stayed in touch by text."

One of the men, Farrow writes, claims he was able to track his cellphone's geolocation to track him; although a source told Farrow Black Cube didn't authorize cell phone tracking, Farrow explains how Khaykin was able to successfully place him near the World Trade Center, where he was to discuss his Weinstein reporting with The New Yorker.

"I was on edge," Farrow writes. "In the preceding weeks, I'd begun to suspect that I was being followed. My building superintendent had told me that he'd seen men lurking outside. Sources had advised me to get a gun and move out of my apartment."

Ultimately, Farrow, who previously reported on Black Cube in 2017, explains Ostrovskiy came to him with details about the operation, saying of the Black Cube work, "I fear that it may be illegal." Additional excerpts from Catch and Kill will be published by The New Yorker this week ahead of its Oct. 15 release. Brendan Morrow

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