It is being reported that ABC, CNN, and CBS are “aggressively pursuing” Ronan Farrow after the former MSNBC host collaborated with the New Yorker to take down Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.
Here’s the thing, though: Why?
What about the newsroom cultures at those institutions is any different from the culture at NBC, where Farrow first attempted to get his story published? NBC turned him down, because, according to NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, “we didn’t feel we had all the elements that we needed to air it.”
And what were those elements, you may ask? Perhaps an insufficient number of Christian/conservative strawmen? How dare you, Oppenheim declared.
“The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us,” he said.
We are supposed to pay no mind then, I suppose, to the fact that James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has proven just the opposite with the release of his latest video. Just ignore the fact that yet another newsroom propagandist, a senior editor at the New York Times, admits her publication was trying to take down Donald Trump. The obvious corollary is that the Times was trying to cover for another very powerful person named Hillary Clinton.
So back to my question: How is it that the addition of Ronan Farrow, who previously hosted a progressive-minded talk show on MSNBC, is going to invigorate a journalism industry so willing to run interference for — or crucify — people based solely on their political parties?
Maybe ABC, CNN, or CBS would have made a different call if Farrow had come to them, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. What’s far more likely here is that those networks are simply trying to corner the market on the new hotness for short-term gain. That doesn’t mean they’ve developed any real soul about why somebody from within their own ranks didn’t run this Weinstein story years ago.
Not to mention this question: If Ronan Farrow himself was honest and he still had a daily show on cable television, would he have pursued this story with this much vigor? We don’t know the answer, and never will, but it’s not unfair to ask it. Though it’s also possible, given what Woody Allen put Farrow’s family through, that the answer is yes.
But even if the answer is “yes,” Farrow is a unicorn in the liberal media-celebrity complex. As Hollywood producer and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg recently admitted concerning his industry’s culpability in the Harvey Weinstein scandal: “I reaped the rewards and I kept my mouth shut.”
Either way, bravo to Farrow for hitting pay dirt on that front while kneecapping a really bad guy. That’s why he should be hired by one of the networks now courting him. But if those networks really wanted to improve the craft of journalism, as well as recharge their ethical compass, they should hire James O’Keefe at the very same time.
Both, for different reasons, cast aside the yoke of fake news and showed that real journalism is still possible if, first and foremost, the sacred cows are slaughtered. Without apology. Without exception. Democrat. Republican. All of them.
Unless you journalists are entirely comfortable crying out to the country how terrible Donald Trump is while the esteem your profession carries with the public is every bit as low. If that’s the case, simply carry on as if journalism is magical, and not at all broken, as you were.