This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 16, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Let's bring in the author of that new book, "Catch and Kill, Lies, Spies, and the Conspiracy to Protect Predators." Ronan Farrow, thanks for being here.
RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Good to be here, thanks, Bret.
BAIER: I want to start chronologically. When you start to uncover the depth of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, how much pressure are you starting to feel at that point?
FARROW: Very rapidly I experienced, and this is not just me. This is backed up by a paper trail that is uncovered in this book by the account of my working level producer who has come out publicly and said eye witness follow this. There was a shutdown. Strange signs of interference that then became explicit orders to stop.
And look, we had a story that journalists looked at and said this should get on air immediately. We had a recorded admission of guilt from Harvey Weinstein secured during a police sting operation. We had multiple named women in every draft of this story. There have been mischaracterizations and downplayings of what we had. But that's actually not the point. The point is what you hit on. This was a case where a news organization didn't behave journalistically. They ordered us to stop, to not take so much as a call, and to cancel interviews, in some cases, with alleged rape victims.
This book explains why.
BAIER: I want to talk about NBC in a second. Howie mentioned the Hillary Clinton connection. At one time you worked for Hillary Clinton. You were doing an interview on a separate project. Her spokesman calls and says that they had concerns about the Weinstein story at NBC. Did you feel pressure from Hillary Clinton on this?
FARROW: Like everything else in the book, Bret, this is handled in a very measured way. The book is meticulously fact checked. We had long conversations with everyone discussed in it, including Hillary Clinton's people. And it is extremely fair to her in how it's rendered. I can't speak to her state of mind. What I can say is that she attempted to withdraw from an interview that she had committed to for a foreign policy book that I was working on for which I had interviewed every other living secretary of state. And before doing so, her staff raised concerns about the fact that I was working on this story about one of her most significant donors, a big bundler of Hollywood money.
BAIER: When NBC kills your story, are you demoralized? Do you think it's going to see the light of day?
FARROW: The fundamental fact here is that I took reporting that this network had looked at, and you can read the book from yourself and see whether you agree with their judgment that it shouldn't have aired, and took it across the street to The New Yorker. And in just a matter of weeks, it became a Pulitzer Prize winning significant body of reporting.
And I owe that to the bravery of sources. I owe it to incredible editors there.
And I think that it tells an important story about the circles of mutual protection and power in our business and the media and the need to hold ourselves accountable. That's true of CBS, where I did reporting on allegations of misconduct there and secret settlements there. It's true of FOX, your own network, which has done a great job of confronting some of the issues here, including the use of secret settlements, and now there's a tough conversation happening at NBC where after I've unveiled that there were in years where they claimed no secret settlements, in fact many of them, including ones with Matt Lauer's accusers. And the journalists there, who are excellent journalists in many cases, are asking tough questions about why.
BAIER: NBC is calling the book a smear. They flatly deny that NBC knew about the Lauer allegations before he was fired in the wake of this rape allegation, which Lauer denies, putting out a statement saying, "For two years the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility and instead shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations. They have avoided having to look a boyfriend, husband, or child in the eye and say I cheated. They have done enormous damage in the process, and I will no longer provide them shelter of my silence."
When you saw that release, what were you thinking?
FARROW: One of the things I respect about your coverage, Bret, is that it is very measured. This book attempts at all times to be maximally fair.
And it incorporates responses of the type that you just read throughout.
We spent many, many hours discussing all of this with NBC leadership, and every party discussed in the book, none of these responses are a surprise because they are in there alongside the paper trail that I document and the meticulously fact-checked reporting. And I will let the facts speak for themselves. I've very confident in the reporting in the book. And it has held up to scrutiny from multiple news organizations now.
BAIER: A lot of organizations go through this, have to deal with this, you mentioned, and trust us, we know here at FOX. We've had to deal with it as well. But do you think the executives at NBC have sort of gotten a pass having to deal with this controversy about how it's being covered in the press?
FARROW: I do not see a pass happening right now. I think the hopeful part of this story, and the hopeful part of this book, "Catch and Kill," is that it is about the continuing unstoppable bravery of women speaking out about this issue at many important institutions. It is about the bravery of reporters who refuse to stop, and many of their stories, not just my own, run through "Catch and Kill."
So while, yes, this is about crimes and coverups and circles of power that protect each other, it's also about the fact that I think the truth will keep coming. And right now, we are seeing a really tough conversation about the need for accountability in media.
BAIER: You've been very outspoken about the sexual misconduct allegations against your father, Woody Allen, who denies any wrongdoing. But taking this on sexual misconduct seems to have become, almost, your life's work.
Is your upbringing part of what drives you on this topic?
FARROW: On the one hand, I'm a lawyer by training, Bret, and much of the reporting I do has not been on sexual violence. It's been on all sorts of misconduct and malfeasance and corruption. And I view the reporting that I do on sexual violence as being just another form of investigative reporting where you have to be adversarial and tough and skeptical and interrogate the facts.
On the other hand, I very openly discuss in this book how I, myself, struggled with this painful part of my history, how it was weaponized against me by people like Harvey Weinstein, who threw it into things like legal threat letters. His sister was sexually assaulted so he can't report on these stories objectively. That is not the case. It's not what any journalist has thought.
What is the case is that I cared about this issue profoundly, and I came to understand very gradually, as someone who had once told a person in my life, maybe you should just shut up about this and not face the blowback, that actually, in the end, I came to understand that I was wrong and my sister was right, and that the many brave women speaking out were right. I am grateful to every source, every whistleblower who comes my way. I try to do justice to the evidence they bring me, and that includes women with these kinds of allegations.
BAIER: There are some media critics who looked at some of the reporting about the Brett Kavanaugh accusers, and came to the occlusion that it wasn't up to your usual standards and may have been rushed a bit because you didn't like him or something. That's what the critics have said. I just want you to address some of that from a media perspective.
FARROW: Quite the contrary. The coverage of Brett Kavanaugh is something that I'm very proud of. And that follows a body of reporting that mostly has focused on unflattering information about Democrats. When I report a story, it is about ferreting out the truth. And in this case, subsequent analysis by other publications including two New York Times reporters who just dug into this for a year and found Deborah Ramirez credible, one of the alleged victims of Brett Kavanaugh that I wrote about, the consensus has, I think, come to understand that the individual, careful pieces of reporting that I put out were there because it was newsworthy, and there was a high level of corroboration.
That said, I want to note something about the media climate around this.
There were dubious claims that I declined to report on and that were out there in the context of that frenzied political fight over that confirmation. And that is deeply disturbing to me. I was as troubled as all of the people who came to question the full body of reporting about Brett Kavanaugh. But the complicated case there was that there were allegations worth reporting on, and I did so carefully along with colleagues of mine, as well as a frenzied political climate where I think there were spurious allegations quite possibly being made.
BAIER: The book is "Catch and Kill, Lies, Spies, and Conspiracy to Protect Predators." It is quite a read. Ronan, we appreciate you coming on "Special Report."
FARROW: Thank you, Bret. Really appreciate it.
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