On October 24, Fox News anchor Shannon Bream hosted renowned journalist Ronan Farrow, whose reporting and new book Catch and Kill on media cover-ups of sexual harassment and assault reports have made enormous waves in the industry. During the interview, something interesting happened: Bream jumped in to try to defend President Donald Trump when Farrow mentioned that the National Enquirer buried stories about him, too.
“It's a very frightening picture when you talk about the elite or the powerful being able to somehow scare or buy their way out of very serious allegations,” Bream said toward the start of the interview.
“That's exactly right. Transparency and the free flow of information is at the heart of maintaining our basic rights and keeping our democracy free,” Farrow replied. “And when you see powerful people subverting the press, in the way that Donald Trump did with the National Enquirer — a lot of the reporting in this book is about how the National Enquirer buried story after story for Donald Trump, in the way Harvey Weinstein did, also through the National Enquirer, also through NBC News. These are fundamental threats to the free flow of information.”
Bream immediately sought to draw some distinctions in Trump’s case. “OK. I think it's important, though, to make the distinction,” Bream said. “And you do have in your book talking about the National Enquirer, President Trump and others, a lot of powerful people in this book, that what is alleged in those cases were consensual, alleged consensual relationships versus what you reported with Harvey Weinstein, which was something completely different.” She then shifted the discussion back to disgraced former NBC News anchor Matt Lauer.
Farrow soon returned to the topic: “I do have to say one important thing, you know, you said there's a sharp distinction between allegations against Donald Trump and some of the allegations against other powerful people in this book. That is true in some cases, but look, ... this is the first example of a reporter looking at the master list of all of the killed stories that the Enquirer had about Trump. And on that list was, for instance, the Jill Harth allegation, which is an allegation of nonconsensual contact of assault. So, you know, it's important to know when we talk about Trump, there are those serious allegations in the mix as well.“
Jill Harth filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997 and spoke out in 2016, saying that Trump had repeatedly groped and attempted to rape her.
Bream said that assault claims against Trump were not substantiated: “I know that you do mention in the book that that, along with another one, was found to be unfounded. There was nothing to it, or people didn't find there were substantive material to go with in those cases.”
Farrow responded: “So, not in that particular story, but there are other unrelated stories, and this is an interesting point. The serious assault claims are not the ones that were found to not have substance. A claim about Trump having a love child, a new instance of the Enquirer seeking to catch and kill a story, apparently, in close collaboration with Trump associates is documented in this book.”
Farrow then mentioned another instance when the Enquirer covered up a story, involving allegations of Trump assaulting underage girls in concert with the late Jeffrey Epstein. “That's another one where we're not sure if there's a there there, but … it's interesting that in those cases, there were still — there were still resources extended to kill these stories whether they were rumors or real.”
Bream then said that the love child story, as well as an anonymous rape allegation, were “not backed by convincing evidence, so it didn’t go anywhere.”
“For sure,” Farrow said. “And I would draw a distinctive between that and say, the Jill Harth claim, which obviously seems to be more substantive.”
Bream, who anchors Fox News at Night, has publicly claimed that the network’s “straight news” side — as distinct from opinion commentary — is thriving. “If anything, I’d say our news division is growing, and I’d welcome people to check us out for themselves and make their own decisions,” she told Forbes earlier this week.