Ronan Farrow addressed his latest story for the New Yorker on Friday, saying that the key takeaway was how David Pecker and his American Media Inc. used the threat of damaging stories as leverage over powerful celebrities — including the president.
“They know where the bodies are buried. They can hold this story over the president,” Farrow said on NPR in his first public comments his New Yorker article in which ex-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal said she had an with affair between Donald Trump in 2006 and suggested that AMI went to great lengths to cover it up.
“The reason that we thought this was an important story was not because of the underlying affair per se,” he said of Pecker’s strategy of buying stories in order to kill them. The practice, known as “catch and kill,” is widely used in the tabloid media industry.
“This system affords the person who catches the story, in this case, the executives of American Media, leverage over the celebrity. In this case, that leverage is with respect to this sitting president of the United States,” said Farrow.
“Really, the important ramifications of this story are the way in which it illustrates a system used by some of the most powerful men in this country that includes leveraging tabloid media institutions.”
Farrow said that McDougal, who signed away her rights to the story in exchange for a payout from American Media, didn’t fully realize the agreement she signed at the time and became increasingly frustrated over the years.
“Karen McDougal, I think like many women who sign up for silence in cases like this where there is this sort of massive power imbalance … felt frustrated, began to feel some of the moral compromises of her legal commitment to stay quiet and essentially hide infidelity leading up to the election,” said Farrow.
You can listen to his full interview with NPR above.