Ronan Farrow talked to Gayle King at the American Magazine Media Conference held in New York on Wednesday about what she termed Farrow’s “jaw-dropping story” about Harvey Weinstein, which ran in The New Yorker in October.
Throughout the talk, Farrow was careful to deflect praise and credit the women who spoke out. “Rose McGowan was a catalyst, and does deserve immense credit,” he said.
Farrow explained that the story ended up in The New Yorker, rather than on NBC, where he had “retained the green light” on a story about sexual harassment in Hollywood, although he noted it was making people increasingly uncomfortable.
“It started to seem more and more like a story about Harvey Weinstein,” he said.
Farrow declined to answer King’s question about whether he was angry at NBC for killing the story. “Any news outlet that has evidence of ongoing crimes and does not report them should take a look at their processes,” he said.
As to how the story wound up at The New Yorker, Farrow spoke about how, in the course of reporting the story for NBC, New Yorker writer Ken Auletta opened up his personal archives and notes from a story he had tried to report about Weinstein 15 years prior. Previous attempts by multiple news outlets to report on the story were stymied by the failure to get sources to speak on the record, although Farrow noted that some outlets shared some of the blame. “For years, media companies did play a role in this story not getting out there,” he said.
Farrow called New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick a hero and praised the magazine’s scrupulous fact-checking process, calling it “good for his soul.” He said he just filed his next New Yorker story, but declined to provide any details. “I am in the thick of ongoing reporting for The New Yorker, and very proud of that,” he said.
He also revealed that he had consulted with Condé Nast’s security team while reporting the Weinstein story.
Farrow demurred when King pressed him on whether he was upset that The New York Times story came out first.
“It was a gamble, but there was the decision not to rush up Harvey Weinstein’s window for comment or the magazine’s fact-checking process,” he said.
King turned the discussion to Farrow’s estranged father, Woody Allen, who has been in the news of late as Farrow’s sister Dylan’s allegations of child abuse have resurfaced.
“Part of the impact of this, and this has been profoundly moving for me, has been seeing women come forward and tell their own stories,” he said.
Farrow said he cautioned his sister Dylan against doing a television interview with King on CBS, but called it a testament to the movement that his sister did not listen to him.
Although he said his family’s experience had factual impact on his story, he said it enhanced his understanding of the stakes and made him especially sensitive to the nature of the reporting.