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NYT Slams One of Its Lawyers for Secretly Trying to Block Its Weinstein Story

By Published on .

On Monday night, The New Yorker did something you may not have thought possible: It published another astonishing story about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. (At this point you'd think we would have lost our ability to be shocked by anything Weinstein-related—but no.) The report by Ronan Farrow is headlined "Harvey Weinstein's Army of Spies" and begins,

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world's largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies.

Farrow (who also authored The New Yorker's previous Weinstein exposé, published early last month) details the various disturbing tactics deployed by Weinstein's would-be protectors. For example, "One of the investigators pretended to be a women's-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan"—actress Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein's accusers.

And four paragraphs into Farrow's story comes this revelation:

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. ... In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein's lawyers, including David Boies. ... Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein's abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

People at the Times are, of course, pissed off about that. In a post this morning titled "Report Details Weinstein's Covert Attempt to Halt Publication of Accusations," Jim Rutenberg writes,

Mr. Boies's firm, Boies Schiller Flexner L.L.P., has provided The Times with outside legal counsel in three legal matters over the past 10 years, including one libel case. The newspaper released a stern statement on Monday night about Mr. Boies's involvement in the effort to undermine its reporting and its reporters.

Rutenberg then quotes his employer's "stern statement":

We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm's lawyers were representing us in other matters. We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.

Stay tuned for more drama on that front.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has its own (separate) Weinstein story on the front page of its print edition today. Headlined "How Weinstein Scandal Became the Final Straw," the piece by Jessica Bennett is retitled online as "The 'Click' Moment: How the Weinstein Scandal Unleashed a Tsunami."

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