Ronan Farrow (2019) Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

I know a girl, a little girl, I think of her in that way because of her size. She’s tiny. She got raped. I know the rapist too.  I also know his mum. She contacted me and asked me to stop calling him a rapist. ‘It was just one of those things,’ she said. ‘She panicked.’ The irony here is her daughter must have panicked too. Because she’d gone to the police alleging an acquaintance had raped her a few years ago. The rapist messaged me telling me he’d call the police for slandering him.  You know what happened next. What usually happens next? Nothing.

Ronan Farrow grew up with a rapist. His stepfather was film director Woody Allen. He married a stepsister he was parenting, Soon-Yi. Dylan, his sister, said that Woody Allen had digitally penetrated her vagina when she was seven-years-old. That’s around the age Michael Jackson preferred young boys to be when he had sex with them. Hearsay, of course, they would never have done those kinds of things.

Then there’s Trump and stories about sexual assault and rape. Almost as many stories about Trump as there were about Harvey Weinstein. Many of us have probably heard of him being caught in a sting filmed with Russian prostitutes when visiting Moscow, and asking them to pee on the bed. Putin was meant to have found that quite funny. But the Russian President did admit that Russian women were the most beautiful in the world. Trump couldn’t help himself, allegedly.

He was of course, a friend, a very, very, good friend with Jeffrey Epstein. They shared ‘Katie Johnston,’ also known as ‘Jane Doe’. That’s what the lawsuit against Trump stated in 1994. The usual kind of story of a thirteen-year-old girl in New York thinking she can become a professional model and forced to perform oral sex on Epstein and Trump. The finale was ‘a savage sexual attack by Trump’. It didn’t happen, of course, because the girl was clearly underage. Fake news of the kind Prince Andrew never committed.

Bill Cosby, of course, was found guilty of rape on re-trial. He claimed he didn’t drug his victims. Weinstein claimed he didn’t drug his victims either. Therefore it couldn’t have been rape. It certainly wouldn’t have been if he got elected President of the United States.

Farrow’s story is one we’ll be broadly familiar with. But the detail is eye-catching, because it’s all laid out. How the rape victim becomes a target to Catch and Kill.

That’s military jargon. Farrow begins his account with a meeting between two immigrants in a Brooklyn café in 2016. The narrator wasn’t there, but he writes the account as if he was. Roman Kyaylin was from the former Soviet Union. Igor Ostrovskiy was from Ukraine, which was also part of the former Soviet Union. They were for hire in the growing intelligence sector in the United States. Their target was spying on Ronan Farrow.

They were subcontractors, above them was Black Cube, an Israeli-based spy network, with former Presidents and Mossad directors selling their services to those that could pay. Weinstein made initial payments of $600 000.

Pegasus software was sold to dictators all over the world to track dissidents in their midst. It could track them and listen to their conversations. It could also activate the camera-phone. Here it was used to track a different kind of dissident. Farrow wasn’t the first reported to pick up on Weinstein (and Trump’s) story of rape and sexual assault.

Delay, doubt and deny. Picking holes in victim’s accounts. Terrifying them and forcing them into submission. The grunt work was done as low-grade shadowing. Threats came from on high and in torturous legal documents that billed their paymasters and sought to close victims’ mouths.

Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, for example, created a number of fictitious shell companies to pay Stormy Daniels $130 000 to shut up about her relationship with Trump. Weinstein employed a carousel of lawyers and faces that used the same tactics and playlists.

Both men had the backing of Dylan Howard at The National Enquirer. Like the News of the World in Britain, prior to the phone-hacking scandal, it sold tabloid scandal, but to Americans. Celebrities were fair game. Sometimes the only game. They put Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, in the frame.Urged him to cut a deal, and they wouldn’t publish pictures of him with his mistress. Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg, and an endless list of stars and politicians, Bezos declined and preferred to be outed rather than ‘blackmailed’ and beholden.

Trump, of course, cut a deal. Dylan Howard and Michael Cohen worked together to buy the rights to the story of disgruntled women that claimed to be sexually assaulted or raped by the former President, or even a former housekeeper that was said to have a son to the moron’s moron. Then nothing happened. Apart from the moron’s moron getting elected American President in 2016, which was worse, much worse

Trump’s and Weinstein’s had paid for supposed slut shaming and shutting women’s mouths. There was a certain irony that Murdoch’s Fox News anchor, Tucker Carlson, used a picture of Farrow’s boss, Noah Oppenheim, as a prompt:

‘Let’s be clear, NBC is lying. Many powerful people knew what Harvey Weinstein was doing and not only ignored his crimes, but actively took his side against many of his victims.  It’s a long list, but at the very top of the list is NBC News.’

The sins of omission are almost as long as the sins of commission. Ronan Farrow has brought into the light the crimes of a deluded Weinstein, who still proclaims his innocence from a prison cell. We wait for the moron’s moron to join him. My guess is he’ll be dead before then. His crimes against women in particular and humanity, in general, are still to be accounted for. No doubt someone like Ronan Farrow is working on that book now.     

Nine-in-a-row champions, twice over. Glasgow Celtic.

Kilmarnock was Scottish League Champions in 1965. Celtic won the Scottish Cup that year. In 1966 Celtic won the first of their nine-in-a-row league titles. Rangers won the Scottish Cup. 1967, and Celtic won everything, including the European Cup, with a team of players that lived within a twelve miles radius of Parkhead. Bobby Lennox was the furthest away from Paradise, one of three players, with ‘Caesar’, Billy McNeil, and to have played in all nine Championships between 1965-1974.

Jimmy Johnstone has been often polled as Celtic’s best- ever player, but Stein was ruthless, when his legs were gone, wee Jinky was gone. Celtic also won the Glasgow Cup in 1967. With Rangers in it, the year they got to the Cup Winners Cup final, Celtic had to win it and they did. Nothing has come close to that year, with the added bonus of beating Real Madrid in the Bernebeu, playing in Di Stefano testimonial, but the talk was all of the mighty Jimmy Johnstone.  

Stein had a Quality Street reserve team coming through to maintain standards. Kenny Dalglish, Davie Hay, Danny McGrain, Lou Macari. Despite being favourites, Celtic lost the European Cup Final to Feyenoord, after extra-time and having scored first. Ironically at the home of Inter Milan who were first to score and were beaten 2—1.Celtic were also outplayed. Time for a changing of the old guard.

Neil Lennon came in as Celtic manager after Tony Mowbrays’s Celtic team were thrashed by St Mirren and Celtic lost narrowly to Rangers in the league that year. Lennon led us to our first of the current nine-in-a-row titles, but at Rugby Park he looked to be on the way out.

Lennon led us to three league titles in a row and that magnificent win over Barcelona, arguably, the best team ever to arrive at Parkhead.

Ronny Deila was appointed manager of Celtic in June 2014. He was a bright new manager, a gamble on the Celtic board’s part,  who went on to lead Celtic to two consecutive league titles, but never had control of the dressing room. Remember Kris Commons, Scotland’s Player of the Year and a twenty-plus goal a season man, reduced to the bench and flinging his shirt ad Deila after being substituted against Molde in the Europa league, despite having scored. Jimmy Johnstone once did something similar with Jock Stein, he shouted through the door in the manager’s room something—thought to be derogatory—ran away and hid in a dark room for a week, before the other players told him it was safe to come out. Deila was on the way out when Rangers beat us in the Scottish Cup, despite their team being in the First Division. Media talk was of the Rangers being back. (Hibs beat them in the Scottish Cup final).

  In May 2016, Brendan Rodgers was announced as Deila’s replacement and around 12 000 fans turned up at Parkhead to welcome the new manager. He delivered two-and-a-half treble trebles of Scottish League, League and Scottish Cups before turning Judas and leaving for Leicester City. It was no secret he was leaving, but to leave half way through a season lacked Celtic class.

Neil Lennon came in as Celtic caretaker manager and he finished the job of another treble. In his first season in charge he had another treble in his grasp, having won the League Cup, a victory over Rangers. Still in the semi-finals of the Scottish, favourites to win it and 13 points clear of Rangers before being declared Champions once again because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic.

Celitc’s best eleven in the years of Lennon, Delia, Rodgers and Lennon again.

Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster. His European displays under Lennon in his first outing and then as a loan player also in Europe and in the League Cup final against Rangers, where he was head and shoulders above everybody else on the pitch makes this an easy one to pick.

Right back. Mikael Lustig held the spot for most of the nine-in-a-row years. He scored against Rangers a few times and was largely dependable. But his time was up. I wasn’t sad to see him go.

Virgil Van Dijk, European Cup winner with Liverpool. Touted as world player of the year. He oozed class because he was class. Simple.

More difficult to pick who to play beside him. Nobody really stands out. I’ll go with Christopher Jullien, he scored the winner in the League Cup final against Rangers and I think he can go on to great things. Put it this way, I was thinking of Charlie Mulgrew as an alternative.

Left back, easy, easy, Kieran Tierney. Celtic class. His only opposition would come from the man he largely replaced. Emilio Izaguirre under Lennon in his first shift as manager was outstanding.

Scott Brown is the Brownie. He’s had his critics, including me, but against Rangers and everyone else in general, he’s that clichéd 110% man. Leads on the field and off it. He’s been in every Celtic team that won nine-in-a-row and captain for most.

Callum McGregor has played almost every outfield position in the team, because he’s so gifted. Best midfielder in Scotland by some distance. Long may it last he signs another five-year deal. Gives you goals too.  Outstanding.

James Forrest, I’m being a bit hypocritical here. Like Scott Brown he has nine league medals to his name. Neil Lennon used to tell us what a great player he was. We’d watch the match and say, what the fuck? But Forrest scored in big games; he’s got pace and is always a threat. He does the doggies, getting back and helping to defend too. Underrated.

Two strikers up front. Number one striker, Moussa Dembele. Pace, strength, goals. He’s the beast that bullied Rangers. Top class.

Odsonne Edourad can do everything Dembele can do and more, but hasn’t got his strength. It remains to be seen which of the French strikers will go further. We have little chance of keeping Edouard, he’s only 21. But he’s been a joy to watch. Player of the Year in waiting.

Rodger’s played Olivier Ntcham behind the strikers in some matches. The French trio, as you’d expect, were outstanding. But here I’d go for Ryan Christie or Tom Rodgic. Ironically, neither of these two is guaranteed a start in the current team.

Picking between Lennon and Stein is quite a simple choice Jock Stein is the best football manager Scottish football has seen. That includes Alex Ferguson, his understudy in the Scotland job.

Celtic’s nine-in-a-row team under Stein weren’t great for goalkeepers. Ronnie Simpson, John Fallon (never saw him play). Evan William and the rest were distinctly average.

The best of both nine-in-a-row teams.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Right back is an easy pick: Daniel Fergus McGrain. The best full back in the world was sometimes moved to left back to play for Scotland and give Rangers player Sandy Jardine a game. Danny McGrain could play left back almost as well as he could play right back.

Virgil van Dijk and Billy McNeil, what a central defensive pairing that would have been. In reserve, I’d have Pat Stanton, who was a truly elegant sweeper.

Left back pits Kieran Tierney against Tommy Gemmell who scored in a European Cup final to win the trophy. Need to go for Gemmell. Like Tierney he could defend and get forward and had a bullet-type shot.

Lennon, Auld, Murdoch and Johnstone would fill the midfield slots.

Kenny Dalglish, the best of the Quality Street Kids (apart from McGrain) would also be in the team.

Striker, I’d go with Moussa Dembele and not Stevie Chalmers or Dixie Deans. If I could play Henrik Larsson the pick would be easy. Henrik is King of the non-nine-in-a-row teams. Long may it last. Waiting for ten or more.    Hail, Hail.