New York (AFP) – Ronan Farrow is the whiz kid prodigy whose vaunted investigative reporting helped birth America’s #MeToo sexual harassment watershed, bringing down Harvey Weinstein and a New York prosecutor, and winning him a Pulitzer Prize.
The only biological child of actress and activist Mia Farrow and famed film director Woody Allen — or “possibly” Frank Sinatra — at 30 years old Farrow represents little of the typical celebrity upbringing, cocooned in privilege.
He has seemingly put aside the spectacularly acidic break-up of his parents’ relationship over allegations that Allen molested his seven-year-old sister, to become a 21st century Renaissance man, able to turn his hand to anything.
He has an ambitious tome about the decline of US diplomacy on The New York Times best-seller list, as a teenager was a spokesperson for UNICEF, and worked for the State Department in Afghanistan and Pakistan, before fronting a TV show.
But it was his explosive reporting for The New Yorker — after months of meticulous research and painstakingly persuading women to speak out — that helped bring down movie mogul Weinstein and spawned the #MeToo movement.
While journalists toil for decades without ever breaking a story of such ramifications, Farrow won the prestigious Pulitzer public service medal for his first outing for The New Yorker, shared last month with The New York Times.
On Tuesday, he was again on wall-to-wall on television, speaking from London, about his latest scalp — the resignation of New York’s state attorney general — just hours after Farrow co-authored an article in which four women accused him abusive behavior.
The Yale Law School alumna was calm and articulate, quietly savaging former prosecutor Eric Schneiderman’s defense that he engaged in role-play.
“This was not ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ It wasn’t in a gray area at all,” Farrow told CNN. “They describe really horrific and serious allegations of abuse.”
His reporting, bombshell article after bombshell article, has sparked blowback against former employer NBC for failing to spot his talents.
– ‘Heartbroken’ –
Only two weeks ago he published “War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence,” exploring a banner issue at a time of massive budget cuts by the Trump administration.
Farrow, who interviewed every single living former secretary of state from Henry Kissinger to Rex Tillerson, argues that the decline has been decades in the making, and spans the Balkans to Afghanistan, China and North Korea.
Born on December 19, 1987 in New York and initially known by first name Satchel, Farrow graduated from Bard College aged 15 and Yale Law School at 21, before going to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship.
As a 17-year-old he was a spokesperson for youth at UNICEF and an advocate for women and children caught up in the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
He went on to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan for late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke during the Obama presidency before becoming an adviser for then secretary of state Hillary Clinton on global youth issues in 2011.
In 2014, he joined MSNBC as a host, fronting an hour-long program on the left-leaning network that sought to dive behind the headlines, educate viewers and campaign on issues. But Farrow came across as stiff and the program bombed.
Cleverness aside, his piercing blue eyes and tousled blonde hair made him one of People magazine’s sexiest men in 2013.
There has also been endless public interest in his home life. One of 14 brothers and sisters, most of them adopted from all over the world.
His parents’ relationship imploded when Allen began an affair with Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi and Ronan is estranged from his father.
Farrow has also sided with his sister Dylan’s claims that Allen molested her when she was seven. Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Last Saturday, he told graduates at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, that his career was on the rocks before his Weinstein reporting went public.
“I wish I could tell you I was confident… or that I said ‘to hell with it,’” he said. “But the real version of this was that I was heartbroken, and I was scared, and I had no idea if I was doing the right thing.”