Ronan Farrow said he’ll grapple with “trust issues forever” after his experience with what he cited as blackmail and seduction by the National Enquirer.
The Pulitzer-winning journalist told the “Smartless” podcast Monday that reporting on former President Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election led to the “weirdest” blowback from his years of bombshell work.
“The weirdest, like, physical surveillance sort of coming-after-me thing was not even the getting followed around, but when I did some reporting that ultimately was at the heart of the first of those Trump indictments about the hush payments during the election, it involved … the catching and killing of stories on his behalf by the National Enquirer,” Farrow began. “And the Enquirer, which was led by some very vindictive people, in some ways [had] a sort of blackmail or blackmail-adjacent business model that they had come up with — like, there were people seducing me. They like, they published my sexts with someone. And so you can imagine the trust issues forever.”
Still, Farrow appeared to take that experience in stride, laughing in embarrassment at the memory. The comments buttoned a conversation began by cohost Jason Bateman concerning Farrow’s safety while uncovering ugly truths of the world’s most powerful men, from Trump to Harvey Weinstein.
“Your incredible investigative journalism has yielded some unhappy folks on the other side, I would imagine,” Bateman said.
“Very much so,” Farrow agreed.
“So how do you sort of get yourself ready for possible blowback?” Bateman asked. “Like, all the way up to and including — do you have 24-hour-a-day security? Or is that something you’ve ever had to consider?”
“I don’t. I almost, I hesitate to say it to create an opening for people. But, you know, I’ve been followed around and staked out and had to, like, not be in my apartment — and move, actually, in one case,” Farrow said before revisiting his experience with the Enquirer.
It’s not the first time Farrow has lobbed accusations against the tabloid. In February 2019, he quote tweeted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Medium essay about how the National Enquirer attempted to blackmail him with personal photos.
“I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI,” Farrow tweeted at the time. (“I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting,” he added.)
He later detailed the “intermediaries” he believed the Enquirer hired to solicit personal, sexual photos of him in his October 2019 book, “Catch and Kill.”
Back on his “Smartless” interview with Bateman and cohosts Will Arnett and Sean Hayes, Farrow was asked if such experiences where his physical and emotional well-being are at risk indicate greater hazards for working journalists today.
“I experience it in a country with good rule of law, and it’s psychologically taxing, but the actual getting followed around height of threats to physical safety, I feel is something that ebbs and flows and I’ve been OK without heavy security,” Farrow said.
He nodded, however, to HBO’s Emmy-nominated “Endangered,” which he executive produced. The project spotlights a year in the life of four journalists in democratic countries with freedom of the press as they “are increasingly facing situations more typically encountered in war zones or autocratic states.”
“I certainly agree that [danger to journalists] is a creeping problem, broadly speaking, whether I am representative of that or not. And I think it’s something that we need to talk about more because it’s not just journalism that’s at stake, it’s a sign of encroaching fascism,” Farrow said. “This is not a new thing in history, it’s one of the tactics that gets deployed, this characterization of the press as an enemy of the people that we saw during the Trump administration. That is tale as old as time, that’s sort of the first thing to kind of separate the public from the facts and reduce accountability so that people can pursue power unjustly.”
Listen to Farrow’s full “Smartless” podcast interview here.