On Friday’s Late Show, Stephen Colbert’s first guest was Ronan Farrow, whose exposé about the now voluminously alleged history of sexual harassment and assault by Hollywood power producer Harvey Weinstein ran in the New Yorker’s October 23 issue. Farrow acknowledged Colbert’s credit of New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for breaking the Weinstein story first, while talking about his experience of having his own 10-months-researched story on the topic ultimately rejected by NBC—for reasons about which the journalist remained resolutely politic. Farrow did tell Colbert that he was subjected to pressure from Weinstein’s lawyers and various unnamed “intermediaries” during his own investigation, noting, again circumspectly, “You’ve heard the legends of how he behaves. You get the idea.” As to Colbert’s repeated question of why NBC spiked a story (that has since been widely confirmed) about one of the most influential men in entertainment being a sexual predator, Farrow demurred once more, saying only that any news organization with information about an ongoing story that could impact people’s lives should run that story. Telling the politely dogged Colbert that the host would have made a fine investigative reporter himself, Farrow spoke of reporters never wanting to be the story, praised those women—both in Hollywood and in other industries—who have come forward in the wake of the Weinstein revelations, and was generally more interested in keeping the focus on the main issue at hand.
Colbert, living up to Farrow’s estimation, pressed the issue in the potentially uncomfortable direction of Farrow’s own family. Famously the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, the journalist referred to the allegations that his father molested Farrow’s sister Dylan as “denied, not convicted.” (Farrow has been very vocal in recent years that he believes that Allen is guilty.) While Farrow asserted that his story on Weinstein was “an assignment” and not personally motivated, he did stress that his own history has taught him how hard it is for women to report their experiences, and that he has gone through a “long process” of realizing that it’s important to confront the issue honestly, no matter who the accused is, or how painful it may be to stand up for those coming forward. Speaking of himself, Farrow confessed that, for a long time, he urged his sister to avoid the disruption to their family that her allegations against Allen would bring. But, as he said to Colbert as more shocking tales of powerful men engaging in sexual harassment and assault come out nearly every day, “We all have to get tougher.”