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The curious timing of NYT takedown: Why has US liberal media turned on #MeToo darling Ronan Farrow now?

Jason O’Toole
Jason O’Toole

Jason O’Toole is an author of several best-selling books who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine.

Jason O’Toole is an author of several best-selling books who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine.

The curious timing of NYT takedown: Why has US liberal media turned on #MeToo darling Ronan Farrow now?
Woody Allen’s son is a big name thanks to his award-winning coverage of Harvey Weinstein. He may be a fame-hungry celebrity who was simply in the right place at the right time, but there’s more to this spat than meets the eye.

Mia Farrow and Woody Allen’s (almost equally) famous son found himself trending on Twitter on Monday following the hullabaloo surrounding the attempted character assassination of him in the New York Times with their headline, ‘Is Ronan Farrow Too Good To Be True?’ I’m just surprised the so-called ‘newspaper of record’ went with an interrogation point in their headline, because it felt like a rhetorical question to me. 

It’s preposterous how this media celebrity is often hailed as “arguably the most famous investigative reporter in America” as a result his #MeToo reporting, because – sorry – when it comes to his journalism, he appears to be nothing more than a one-trick pony. 

Ronan hasn’t truly written any groundbreaking reportage on anything other than his brilliant sexual abuse exposé pieces – a subject matter that is quite literally “too close to home” for him. 

He was clearly keen to pursue #MeToo stories because of the allegations his sister Dylan made against their own estranged father, and it’s debatable if he would’ve even been approached by those victims in the first place if it wasn’t for this simple, well-known fact. 

Not to take anything away from the guy, but it’s probably sometimes forgotten that his own first exposé about Harvey Weinstein was only published five days after the major scandal was first broken by the NYT. Yet I don’t know anybody who’d be able to name the journalists from that paper who shared the Pulitzer Prize with our hero here. 

So, it’s a fair question to ask: would Ronan have even become a global figure now, or even a poster child – forgive the poor choice of words – of the #MeToo movement if it wasn’t for his famous surname and the sordid allegations against his Oscar-winning dad?  

Ronan will, of course, tell you – rightly, to his credit – that he was the first to have the Weinstein story when he was at NBC, but he will in the next breath laughably claim the TV network wanted to bury it. I strongly believe NBC, which has said this is an “outright lie,” was perfectly correct not to run the allegations because Ronan – despite any claims to the contrary – didn’t appear to have any victims willing to go on camera. 

The script he presented to the TV station for approval allegedly didn’t contain “a single on-the-record interview,” but Farrow claims“there were at least two women named or willing to be named” – but that’s not the same as having actual victims being interviewed, is it? 

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Also, was one of these alleged victims Lucia Evans, by any chance? Let’s not forget that this supposed key witness was later discovered to have said the oral sex in question was consensual and her claims were thrown out of court. 

In fairness to NBC, it’s hard to imagine any libel lawyers giving approval to air allegations without on-the-record interviews. With this in mind, it’s also hard to argue the so-called “takedown” by the NYT’s Ben Smith didn’t make a valid point when he claimed Ronan’s work sometimes showed “shakiness at its foundations.” 

There’s no denying Ronan played a hugely significant role in #MeToo, but ever since then the only thing that has been really striking about him is his dapper style image – perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the late, great Tom Wolfe, a legend who also knew how to dress with great panache. But Ronan’s certainly not fit to lace the boots of the writer most closely associated with the New Journalism movement. 

But it is peculiar that the NYT would, out of the blue, attack Ronan now. Why not go after him back in October when his book – with its cheesy title ‘Catch and Kill’ – was originally published? Is there any hidden agenda at play here? After all, Ronan is someone who likes to talk up conspiracy theories. 

There would’ve been moral outrage if such an attack had been published in 2018, but we’re now in an era when the #MeToo movement (and mainstream media) has failed to get excited about the sexual misconduct allegations made against Joe Biden. It might also perhaps be a case of time passing and the liberal media suddenly remembering that there’s actually a thing called “due process.” 

Here’s one conspiracy theory (perhaps not one Ronan would run with): maybe they’re mostly keeping schtum to help smooth the path for Biden’s presidential run. After all, some of the liberal media have even admitted that they’re burying their heads in the sand because they desperately want Trump ousted. Either way, it’s all morally dubious stuff. 

Biden’s alleged victim, Tara Reade, even claims she emailed Ronan “like four times to the point of stalking” about it. So, it’s disappointing that such a defender of sex victims never seemed to pursue her story with any real enthusiasm. I’d love to hear why not. 

As you’d expect, Farrow’s publisher Little, Brown has come out swinging in his defence following the attack on their client. “Ronan’s dedication to a deep and thorough fact-check of his reporting, his commitment to the rights of victims and his impeccable attention to detail and nuance make us proud to be his publisher,” they stated

It strikes me as nothing short of hypocritical that they clearly weren’t so “proud” of being Woody Allen’s publisher when they dropped him like a hot potato after Ronan voiced his disapproval about his old man’s memoir.   

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They knew all about Woody’s baggage when they signed him up and shouldn’t have bowed to the pressure, considering there’s not even a shred of evidence against him – if there was, then why did the state of Connecticut decline to press charges against him after their investigation? 

Even the Yale-New Haven Hospital, which looked into the claims circa 1992-93, noted that there were “important inconsistencies in Dylan’s statements” and that “her descriptions of the details surrounding the alleged events were unusual and were inconsistent.” Their report categorically concluded: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr Allen.” 

If you take the hospital’s statement at face value, Ronan has spent his entire journalism career smearing his “good father’s name” at any given opportunity. When Ronan himself won’t even acknowledge his own father might’ve been wronged, it makes it hard to take anything he himself spouts without a pinch of salt. Like the name of a Woody Allen movie, he sounds like an ‘Irrational Man’ on that score. 

There’s no denying that Ronan – who deep down, like his mother, probably fantasizes about Frank Sinatra being his real biological father – is certainly doing things his way. But I wouldn’t bet on him ever winning another Pulitzer Prize.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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