I was telling a friend when I sat down to write this review that I was having a tough time finding my way in. When I reviewed Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, I was able to talk about him as part of the review, since he put himself on the page as part of the writing, and that was my way in to getting my thoughts down. That book was about both the harassment and abuse of women by men in power and the efforts undertaken to stop Farrow’s reporting and the women who were speaking out. In She Said Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey document the events leading up to their reporting of the same issues, but they leave themselves off the page. I found myself struggling to find a place to start my draft.
Which, while I enjoyed the reading of Catch and Kill more, it is a strength of She Said that Twohey and Kantor are off the page. In this book we are laser-focused on the journalistic process surrounding the ways staff at the New York Times had broken down how to find the hidden proof of sexual harassment. Building off the work of other teams at the paper Kantor and Twohey focus on uncovering the paper trail of non-disclosure agreements as a way to tell the victims stories when they are under legal orders not to. What I found most impactful in this one was the exploration of the kinds of requirements that these NDAs have, how there is little to no oversight of them, and just how broken our system is when it comes to providing information that would keep people safe from harassment and abuse. It was one of those things that I knew in my bones, but not one whose details were clear to me.
Like Catch and Kill this book extends past Weinstein – this time into the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh (I was dumbfounded honestly that this was 18 months ago already) and the fight to get McDonalds to provide employees with methods to report harassment. But unlike in Farrow’s book, Twohey and Kantor bring it back around in a more holistic way, ending their book with a group meeting with many of their sources throughout the investigative work. The women share amongst themselves; they are able in perhaps previously unavailable ways to know they aren’t alone, and we are included in that conversation, and in that mindset – we aren’t alone, but there’s a hell of a long way to go.