[I first saw Ronan Farrow when he was a noontime CNN News host (or whatever those talking faces are called) two or three years ago. At the time I thought he was a smarmy pretty-boy airhead. Apparently I was wrong, or maybe it’s just “smarmy pretty-boy airhead prodigy.” Joking aside, he’s a voice worth following. Below is the text preface to the recorded The New Yorker interview by David Remnick, editor.]
On April 16th, the Pulitzer Prize committee awarded the gold medal for public service to The New Yorker and the New York Times, for contributing to “a worldwide reckoning about sexual abuse of women” through their work investigating allegations of assault and harassment against the powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The stories on Weinstein that appeared in The New Yorker—which detailed not only the abuse but also the system of suppression and intimidation used to cover it up—were penned by Ronan Farrow. The day after the Pulitzer announcement, Farrow sat down with The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, to talk about the path that brought him to investigative journalism and about how his reporting connects with his lifelong interest in public service.
Farrow grew up with a number of adopted siblings, who came from “every corner of the Earth,” and he would travel with his mother, the movie star Mia Farrow, on humanitarian trips to refugee camps abroad. Such experiences caused him to develop an early interest in international advocacy. He remembers thinking, “I want to do something useful.”
Farrow had what he calls “a Doogie Howser thing”: he started college at the age of eleven, and was admitted to law school at fifteen, but he deferred admission for a few more years, while working at the U.N. By the time he was twenty, Farrow was working closely with Richard Holbrooke, a giant of American diplomacy, in Afghanistan.
Farrow has recently published his first book, “War on Peace,” about the state of U.S. foreign relations, which he sees as entering a particularly troubled moment. “We have been chipping away at diplomacy,” Farrow says, “and, when we do this, it is a disaster.” Under the Trump Administration, the diplomatic apparatus that allows the U.S. to communicate with its allies and its enemies alike has been taking “a nosedive.” In his conversation with David Remnick, which you can watch [at the link] above, Farrow details his journey into the world of international relations, his candid interview with Rex Tillerson, and his prescription for salvaging the diplomatic profession.