Catch and kill

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Catch and kill is a surreptitious technique employed by tabloid newspapers to prevent an individual from publicly revealing information damaging to a third party.

Using a legally enforceable non-disclosure agreement, the tabloid purports to buy exclusive rights to "catch" the damaging story from the individual, but then "kills" the story for the benefit of the third party by preventing it from ever being published. The individual with the information frequently does not realize that the tabloid intends to suppress the individual's story instead of publishing it. The practice is distinct from using hush money, in which the individual is bribed by the third party to intentionally conceal the damaging information.

The National Enquirer and its parent company American Media, Inc. have attracted attention for using the practice.[1][2]

Examples[edit]

Instances where newspapers have been accused of using catch and kill include:

Harvey Weinstein
  • In 2015, the National Enquirer allegedly approached Ambra Battilana to purchase the rights to her story about groping by Harvey Weinstein, after Weinstein asked for help from a newspaper's executive. When no agreement could be reached between the newspaper and Battilana, National Enquirer staff turned to collect damaging personal information on Battilana and other Weinstein accusers.[4] Ronan Farrow, the reporter who broke the story about sexual abuse accusations against Weinstein, released a 2019 book entitled Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.[5][6][7]
  • In 2015, the National Enquirer's parent company American Media paid a former doorman at Trump Tower $30,000 for the exclusive rights to his allegations that he overheard a conversation about a child Donald Trump had with a woman who is not his wife, but never published an article on the topic. In 2018, the doorman's lawyer indicated that AMI released him from his obligations to keep silent about what he said he had heard.[8][9][10]
  • Karen McDougal
    American Media has been accused of making a payment of $150,000 in 2016 to Karen McDougal for the story of her liaison with Trump, with no intention of publishing the story. The "life-story rights agreement" covers "exclusive ownership of her account of any romantic, personal, or physical relationship she has ever had with any 'then-married man". In response, the publisher stated the deal included other elements such as a regular column from McDougal, and simply decided not to use the story. The CEO of American Media, David Pecker, is a friend of Trump.[1][11][12][13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stelter, Brian (February 16, 2018). "'Catch and kill': How a tabloid shields Trump from troublesome stories". CNN. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  2. ^ Radford, Benjamin (November 9, 2018). "'Why Isn't The Media Covering This Story?'—Or Are They?". Center for Inquiry. Archived from the original on November 13, 2018. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Nicholas, Peter; Hall, Carla (August 12, 2005). "Tabloid's Deal With Woman Shielded Schwarzenegger". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  4. ^ Twohey, Megan; Kantor, Jodi; Dominus, Susan; Rutenberg, Jim; Eder, Steve (December 5, 2017). "Weinstein's Complicity Machine". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Farrow, Ronan (2019). Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. New York: Little, Brown and Company ISBN 9780316486637
  6. ^ Daniel Lippman (October 14, 2019). "Ronan Farrow: National Enquirer shredded secret Trump documents". politico.com. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Stelter, Brian (July 29, 2018). "How Ronan Farrow keeps landing bombshells". CNN. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Moghe, Sonia (August 25, 2018). "EXCLUSIVE: ex-Trump World Tower doorman's "catch-and-kill" contract released". CNN. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  9. ^ York, Chris (August 25, 2018). "Dino Sajudin Releases 'Catch And Kill' Contract 'About Donald Trump's Illegitimate Child'". HuffPost. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  10. ^ Farrow, Ronan (April 12, 2018). "The National Enquirer, a Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  11. ^ Borchers, Callum (March 21, 2018). "Why efforts to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are failing". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Farrow, Ronan (April 12, 2018). "The National Enquirer, a Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey (July 3, 2017). "The National Enquirer's Fervor for Trump". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.