Harvey Weinstein’s Mafia
If The New York Times doesn’t get the Pulitzer Prize for its work on the Harvey Weinstein case, there will be no justice. Here is a devastating report on the web of film and media industry enablers that helped that rapist do his dirty work for decades. Excerpts:
In the weeks and months before allegations of his methodical abuse of women were exposed in October, Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, pulled on all the levers of his carefully constructed apparatus.
He gathered ammunition, sometimes helped by the editor of The National Enquirer, who had dispatched reporters to find information that could undermine accusers. He turned to old allies, asking a partner in Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s premier talent shops, to broker a meeting with a C.A.A. client, Ronan Farrow, who was reporting on Mr. Weinstein. He tried to dispense favors: While seeking to stop the actress Rose McGowan from writing in a memoir that he had sexually assaulted her, he tried to arrange a $50,000 payment to her former manager and throw new business to a literary agent advising Ms. McGowan. The agent, Lacy Lynch, replied to him in an email: “No one understands smart, intellectual and commercial like HW.”
Mr. Weinstein’s final, failed round of manipulations shows how he operated for more than three decades: by trying to turn others into instruments or shields for his behavior, according to nearly 200 interviews, internal company records and previously undisclosed emails. Some aided his actions without realizing what he was doing. Many knew something or detected hints, though few understood the scale of his sexual misconduct. Almost everyone had incentives to look the other way or reasons to stay silent. Now, even as the tally of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds is still emerging, so is a debate about collective failure and the apportioning of blame.
Executives at Mr. Weinstein’s film companies who learned of allegations rarely took a stand, cowed by their volatile boss or worried about their careers. His brother and partner, Bob, participated in payoffs to women as far back as 1990. Some low-level assistants were pulled in: They compiled “bibles” that included hints on facilitating encounters with women, and were required to procure his penile injections for erectile dysfunction. His lawyers crafted settlements that kept the truth from being explored, much less exposed. “When you quickly settle, there is no need to get into all the facts,” said Daniel M. Petrocelli, a lawyer who handled two agreements with accusers.
If Mr. Weinstein built his wall of invulnerability from many varied bricks, it was covered with a sheen of celebrity. He created stars through his movies, but he also acquired famous friends through his other activities, including in the Democratic politics that dominate Hollywood.
Chief among them were Bill and Hillary Clinton. Over the years, Mr. Weinstein provided them with campaign cash and Hollywood star power, inviting Mrs. Clinton to glittery premieres and offering to send her films. After Mr. Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he donated $10,000 to Mr. Clinton’s legal defense fund. Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.
Mr. Weinstein’s political activity — he provided consistent support for Mr. Obama as well — boosted his image as a man with friends in high places and close ties to the country’s leading female politician. It is not clear if rumors of his record of sexual misconduct had ever reached them.
But two prominent women said they warned Mrs. Clinton’s team. In 2016, Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, said she was troubled by the producer’s visible presence during Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard stories, both directly and secondhand from other actresses, about disturbing encounters with him, she said. So in March last year, Ms. Dunham, a vocal Clinton supporter, said she warned the campaign.
“I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. She recalled adding, “I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”
The other woman was Tina Brown. More:
While Ms. Dunham says she has “an incredible allegiance to Hillary,” and does not believe the reports ever traveled to Mrs. Clinton, she remains troubled by what had happened. “A year and a half ago, on one of the most progressive campaigns in history, this wasn’t a problem,” she said, referring to the allegations about Mr. Weinstein.
Imagine that: prominent Democrats willing to overlook credible warnings that someone important to their game plan to acquire power was a rapist. Shocked, I tell you, shocked. (And do I really have to point out that there is no room for Republican Schadenfreude?)
Here’s how demeaning it was to serve Harvey:
Others stayed quiet because they felt like they shared a shameful secret. “You become more and more aware of everything going on, then you realize what it is you’re cleaning up, and you don’t ever want to tell anyone that — friends, family, my parents — what kind of job this is,” Ms. Rehal said. She and Ms. Franklin said they were tasked with procuring injectable erectile dysfunction drugs, Caverject and alprostadil. Mr. Weinstein paid with his company card and gave Ms. Rehal a $500 bonus for supplying the medication, she said. Ms. Rehal said she had to keep a supply of the shots at her desk, dispense them to him in brown paper bags and sometimes deliver the medication to hotels and elsewhere before his meetings with women.
Read the whole thing. Every last syllable, every damning detail. And think about how many people in power knew that Harvey Weinstein operated this way, and let it happen.
I never want to hear another pompous, moralistic screed from another Hollywood bigmouth again. Here was what Meryl “Friend of Harvey” Streep had to say in her famous anti-Trump Golden Globes speech earlier this year. Excerpt:
And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, was raping, molesting, and humiliating women for decades before Donald Trump ran for office. And they all knew about him. More Streep:
Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.
Streep said earlier this fall that she had no idea her friend Harvey treated women like this. Maybe so. But now she does, and now, thanks to reporters and brave victims willing to speak out, everybody knows. Harvey was not the only Harvey in show business, I’m sure. This thing isn’t over yet, nor does it need to be.