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Journalist Ronan Farrow Responds To Ben Smith’s Criticism Of His #MeToo, NBC Reporting

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Shelby Talcott Media Reporter
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Journalist Ronan Farrow wrote that he stands by his work after New York Times media columnist Ben Smith published an article Sunday examining apparent holes in his reporting.

Smith, formally Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief, criticized Farrow’s reporting – particularly his writing published by The New Yorker and in his book “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.” Smith wrote that there was “shakiness” at the “foundation” of Farrow’s reporting.

“I stand by my reporting,” Farrow tweeted Monday following a lengthy list combating some of Smith’s concerns raised in the article.

Smith noted that Farrow “is not a fabulist,” but asserted that the journalist can be misleading. The NYT columnist equated it to “a kind of resistance journalism.”

“His [Farrow’s] work, though, reveals the weakness of a kind of resistance journalism that has thrived in the age of Donald Trump: That if reporters swim ably along with the tides of social media and produce damaging reporting about public figures most disliked by the loudest voices, the old rules of fairness and open-mindedness can seem more like impediments than essential journalistic imperatives,” according to Smith. “That can be a dangerous approach, particularly in a moment when the idea of truth and a shared set of facts is under assault.”

Among Smith’s criticisms are Farrow’s reasoning behind NBC reportedly refusing to run with a story he had about now-convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. Farrow wrote that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one of the high-profile people who “sought to kill his reporting and protect” Weinstein, according to Smith.

Smith called this an “irresistible conspiracy” without much support. Farrow stood by it Monday in his tweet thread. The NYT media columnist added that “His stories are built and sold on his belief — which he rarely proves — that powerful forces and people are conspiring against those trying to do good, especially Mr. Farrow himself.”

The investigative journalist stood by other parts of the reporting that Smith criticized, such as “a Weinstein script from NBC and a radio interview” Farrow gave regarding it. One such criticism involved reporting around allegations against former “Today” host Matt Lauer, who was fired from the network in 2017 after an accusation of inappropriate sexual behavior in the office.

“The book discusses that draft and its account is accurate. In the interview, I misspoke. What I should have said was that there were at least two women named or willing to be named, as the book lays out,” according to Farrow, who then linked two women who were willing to be named in the NBC story. (RELATED: Ronan Farrow Claims NBC Made Settlements With Multiple Women Involving Matt Lauer Before His Firing)

Editor of The New Yorker David Remnick defended Farrow’s reporting in a statement to the NYT, calling it “scrupulous, tireless, and, above all, fair.”

“Working alongside fact checkers, lawyers and other editorial staff members at The New Yorker, he achieved something remarkable, not least because he earned the trust of his sources, many of whom had to relive traumatic events when they talked to him,’’ Remnick said according to a statement. “We stand by Ronan Farrow’s reporting. We’re proud to publish him.”