What You Need to Know* About the Harvey Weinstein Scandal

*So to Speak

By Published on .

In current media-about-media-about-media-people news: Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul, has been a Twitter trending topic since yesterday, thanks to a scandalous New York Times story about him that appears in its print edition this morning but was released online Thursday afternoon—which gave the New York Post time to interview Weinstein about the Times story and put the Weinstein scandal on its own front-page today as well.

Got that?

The Times' story, reported by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, appears on the paper's front page above the fold under the headline "Sexual Misconduct Claims Trail a Hollywood Mogul"—and it actually gets bigger play than "Trump to Force Congress to Act on Iran Accord."

The key to the Weinstein story comes right in its subhead: "Oscar-Winning Producer Has Quietly Settled at Least 8 Complains in 3 Decades." In other words, the Times used the same investigatory strategy here that it used to bring down Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly. (Remember that story from April? The subhead was "About $13 million has been paid out over the years to address complaints from women about Mr. O'Reilly's behavior. He denies the claims have merit.")

The thing about the Harvey Weinstein exposé is that he's simultaneously kind of owning up ...

In a statement to The Times on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weinstein said: "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go." He added that he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to "deal with this issue head on."

... while lawyering up ...

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer advising Mr. Weinstein, said in a statement that "he denies many of the accusations as patently false."

... and threatening to sue:

Weinstein spoke Thursday to the New York Post's Emily Smith, editor of the tabloid's "Page Six" gossip section, who wrote:

The movie mogul exclusively explained [to the Post] why he gave a statement about being a "better person" while simultaneously hiring famed lawyer Charles Harder, who won a $140 million settlement for Hulk Hogan against Gawker, to sue the Times for $50 million. Weinstein said, "What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times' inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions."

Got that?

It should be noted here that the Post's "Page Six" has had a symbiotic relationship with Weinstein—and his studios (first Miramax and then The Weinstein Company) and the movie stars in his orbit—for decades. So it's no surprise that he went to the Post to slam the Times. That said, "Dirty Harvey" (as seen at the top of this post) is probably not quite the cover headline he was hoping for his morning.

Because there's obviously not yet enough media involved in this media-about-media-about-media-people story, the Post's Smith also reports that Weinstein thinks the Times rushed its story into print to beat a competing Weinstein story that New York Magazine has reportedly been working on.

On New York Mag's "The Cut" site last night, in a post headlined "Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn't Come Out Until Now" (spoiler: he was just too powerful and intimidating), Rebecca Traister writes,

I have been having conversations about Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual harassment for more than 17 years. The conversations started when I was a young editorial assistant at Talk, the magazine he financed, in 1999; back then it was with young people, friends—women and men—who worked for him, at Miramax, and told tales of hotel rooms, nudity, suggestion, and coercion, and then of whispered payoffs, former assistants who seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth.

(Read Traister's whole post for the rather astonishing details she offers about a 2000 encounter with Weinstein.)

Meanwhile, plenty of other publications are piling on about the entertainment industry's open secrets ("Another man behaving badly in Hollywood—this time, Harvey Weinstein. What a shocker," reads the headline of a column by Robin Abcarian of The Los Angeles Times) and the meaning of this particular cultural moment ("Harvey Weinstein, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the era of unleashing," per Ezra Klein on Vox).

Which brings us full circle to The New York Times story itself. Its web version caries the headlne "Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein," and begins,

Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview. "How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?" Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking.

Continue reading.


UPDATE #2 (Oct. 8): "Harvey Weinstein Is Fired After Sexual Harassment Reports" (NYT)

UPDATE #3 (Oct. 10): The New Yorker has published an investigative piece on its website headlined "From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein's Accusers Tell Their Stories." Ronan Farrow writes:

In the course of a ten-month investigation, I was told by thirteen women that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them. Their allegations corroborate and overlap with the Times's revelations, and also include far more serious claims.

Continue reading.

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