In Brief

Ronan Farrow: is Harvey Weinstein’s arch-enemy ‘too good to be true’?

Pulitzer-winning #MeToo journalist rejects New York Times columnist’s allegations of ‘shakiness’ in his work

US journalist Ronan Farrow has racked up a string of awards and a huge following with his exposes about powerful men who abuse their position to harass and assault women. 

But The New York Times media columnist Ben Smith has taken a deeper look at some of The New Yorker reporter’s work and, as The Guardian puts it, “found him wanting”.

In an article headlined “Is Ronan Farrow Too Good To Be True?”, Smith suggests that his subject - the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen - “delivers narratives that are irresistibly cinematic” and at times conspiratorial, but “omits the complicating facts and inconvenient details that may make them less dramatic”.

Farrow “does not make things up”, but “his reporting can be misleading”, Smith claims.

The Times notes that Smith’s attack on Farrow “focused on a handful of possible errors”. Delivering his verdict on Farrow’s 2017 story exposing the now-infamous abuses by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein - for which Farrow was awarded a Pulitzer Prize - Smith says that the reporter smoothed over possible contradictions in witness testimonies to make “a narrative virtue of a reporting liability”.

The allegations have been dismissed by Michael Luo, editor of NewYorker.com. In a series of tweets, Luo said that the magazine, which is famous for its rigorous fact-checking, would make a correction if anything in Farrow’s reporting was proven to be untrue, but added: “Ben has not done that here.”

Meanwhile, Farrow tweeted that he “stand[s] by my reporting”, while also taking issue with a number of Smith’s points.

The wider reaction to the claims has been mixed, with The Week US national correspondent Ryan Cooper tweeting that Smith was “nitpicking”.

However, other commentators agreed with Smith’s analysis of Farrow’s work, with The Washington Post’s media critic Erik Wemple describing the article as “muscular debunking work”.

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