Journalism Can Be Powerful


Ronan Farrow has done what journalists are supposed to do: chase a story; to go wherever the facts take you. Evaluate the lead; conduct the research, the interviews, confirming sources, organizing the data and finally the emotional release of writing the story. Farrow went there, regardless of any considerations having nothing to do with the facts. Ronan Farrow, for the moment has changed our world. Farrow’s story went to the editors at the New York Times who for non-factual considerations declined to commit an act of journalism.

Farrow, as we now know, upon rejection by NBC News, took his story to The New Yorker, and the collapse of Weinstein became the first of the dominoes to fall.

Ronan Farrow has demonstrated the potential power of true journalism. Just look at where we are now, look how the mighty have fallen, look at where we are now that was a distant horizon not so long ago. Sexual abuse, misconduct and cultures that allow for and excuse those behaviors are front and center. Seemingly not a day passes where women emboldened by the courage of others come forward. Powerful men are being brought down by behavior that they, apparently, felt entitled to; it feels like just the beginning.

Ronan Farrow, for now, has changed our world and he did it with the truth.

I have no sense of Ronan Farrow’s political leanings in any concrete sense. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? He may be one of a small percentage of journalists where I don’t have a clear sense of their ideological firewall. Perhaps faux journalists will absorb the lesson that obvious ideology serves to taint reporting even in the event of the accidental misstep of committing an actual act of journalism.

In no time at all since Weinstein has been exposed, the heat has fallen on: two former Presidents, a Senator, a Congressman, Judges, news anchors, state Senators and Representatives, political party executives, directors, producers, actors and celebrities. And, it’s likely just begun.

Hopefully not only the guilty but the enablers will be brought to the docks of justice or at least to the stage of public rejection. Equally guilty are those who participated in the “everyone knew” excuse as a reason to be silent. Guilty are those who, for reasons of expediency, allowed a culture to exist that preyed on the aspirations of those not in a position to control either the situation or the culture.

If you’re at the scene of the crime to drive the getaway car and someone gets murdered in the commission of the robbery you are potentially guilty of murder as well. So, why not in Hollywood, Corporate America and on Capitol Hill? These crimes do not have to meet a legal standard; they simply have to be publicly rejected. Those guilty held to public if not legal account. Time for the predators to disappear in the ash heap.