Harvey Weinstein in 2016 (Getty Images)
After the New Yorker published his bombshell report concerning movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s behavior towards vulnerable women, reporter Ronan Farrow is talking to the press about the article’s sickening allegations of sexual harassment and rape. He noted that these women who came forward were “legitimately afraid” of threats from Weinstein and his lawyers.
Farrow’s story appeared days after the NY Times published an expose about “decades of sexual harassment allegations” from actresses, models and employees against the powerful Oscar winner during his time at Miramax, the indie film company he started with his brother and later sold to Disney, and then The Weinstein Company (also co-founded with his brother), noting that there were at least eight settlements with women.
Actress Ashley Judd shared how Weinstein asked her to give him a massage in his hotel room—an M.O. that has been described by many other women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosanna Arquette and Asia Argento, who have since come forward. Argento also told Farrow that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, after a producer told her that there was a Miramax party, “He asks me to give a massage. I was, like, ‘Look, man, I am no fucking fool.’ But, looking back, I am a fucking fool. And I am still trying to come to grips with what happened.”
Farrow’s story included this damning bit: “Sixteen former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies told me that they witnessed or had knowledge of unwanted sexual advances and touching at events associated with Weinstein’s films and in the workplace. They and others describe a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models. All sixteen said that the behavior was widely known within both Miramax and the Weinstein Company.”
In an interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Farrow said that the former and current employees who came forward “feel a profound sense of guilt about what we saw” and about being silent. The employees, he said, told him that after some alleged victims had one-on-one meetings with Weinstein, “We saw fear in these women’s eyes,” and the employees were “haunted” by that.
Why come forward now? Farrow believes the women were influenced by “a changing culture” in which powerful figures such as Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby are finally being held accountable for their behavior.
“They felt the grip on power of these individuals was slipping… Harvey Weinstein isn’t the fourth most powerful person”—in media—”he’s now the 200th most powerful,” he said.
Farrow had been working on the story for NBC News, where is also a reporter, for months but the Huffington Post claims that the network didn’t think it was ready to go. However, Farrow said that when NBC passed and he took the story to The New Yorker, the magazine clearly found it to be “publishable.”
“The abuse of power is a phenomenon we see over and over again in industry after industry,” he said, dismissing the suggestion this is a problem exclusive to Hollywood. He paid tribute to the women who agreed to go public with their accusations, noting the “machine” is set up to destroy their reputations: “powerful PR teams designed to smear people publicly” and “legal teams” with restrictive contracts or non-disclosure agreements. There’s a “fusillade that women face,” he said.
While he and the NY Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are getting praise for their work in uncovering what many have called “Hollywood’s open secret,” Farrow said, “We are in service of women doing something very tough.”
A spokesperson for Weinstein said, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Company and previously threatened to sue the NY Times for up to $50 million for “reckless reporting.” On Wednesday, his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, announced she was leaving him, stating, “My heart breaks for all the women who gave suffered.”
Maddow, at the beginning of her program, noted how three years ago this week, Hannibal Buress helped open the floodgates, when he called Cosby a rapist in a comedy set: