Ronan Farrow on Legacy of 'Catch and Kill': "Whistleblowers Will Keep Coming, Reporters Won't Stop"

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert _Ronan Farrow - Publicity - H 2019
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Following the release of his book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, investigative journalist Ronan Farrow appeared on The Late Show Wednesday to chat with host Stephen Colbert about the controversial work.

Asked to define the term "catch and kill" as it pertains to journalism, Farrow said that it's a technique used by tabloid newspapers to "catch" a potentially damaging story and prevent it from being published — thus, they "kill" it.

Speaking about the book and the status of the story before he took it to The New Yorker, Farrow said, "We had an explosively reportable body of evidence," including tape of Harvey Weinstein and multiple women coming forward to speak on the record about their experience with him. He said that one of the themes running through the book is the fact that he was "ordered to stop" by NBC, noting how hard it is to speak the truth when you are up against powerful companies and individuals. He shared that "as more and more sources came forward and talked about the culture of cover-ups," he realized that he had to pursue the story.

The Late Show host later asked his guest about being followed by spies during the writing of the book. "You were paranoid that you were being followed, and it turns out you were being followed... " said Colbert, prompting Farrow to jump in with, "I was looking over my shoulder, seeing the same guys and the same cars." He said that he would receive strange phone calls and text messages, some of them threatening. He eventually found out that Russian and Ukrainian spies were using his phone GPS to track his movements. At one point, they followed him to The New Yorker when he took his story there.

Despite all that, Farrow emphasized that there have been positive results to come from the book. "I think whistleblowers will keep coming. I think reporters won't stop and the way fellow reporters have rallied around this book is very moving to me and gives me hope that the free press is alive and well."

Earlier the same day, Farrow apologized to a group of women who received settlements from Fox News for a comment that implied the network did a "great job" at handling their sexual misconduct allegations. In his statement to CNN, Farrow clarified that he did not intend to suggest that networks such as Fox News have fully addressed these issues and emphasized "there is still a long way to go" — he hopes people in power are listening. 

This week it was revealed that Farrow has partnered with Pineapple Street Studios to launch a podcast, debuting in November, which will serve as an audio companion to the book. "Catch and Kill is full of incredibly compelling men and women and this podcast will give you the opportunity to hear their voices directly, in intimate, candid conversations with me," said Farrow in a statement. 

Catch and Kill is currently sitting behind Elton John's autobiography Me on The New York Times print and e-book non-fiction best-seller list.