Columnist Retracts Harvey Weinstein Interview, Says Conversation Was a "Social Visit"
'The Spectator's' Taki Theodoracopulos quoted the disgraced mogul as saying, "Yes, I did offer [women] acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did, and still does, everyone."
The Spectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos has retracted an interview with Harvey Weinstein in which the disgraced Hollywood mogul was quoted discussing the sexual assault allegations against him.
In a story published Friday — "Harvey Weinstein: ‘I offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so does everyone — they still do’" — Theodoracopulos wrote a column in defense of Weinstein and quoted him, in the first interview since the accusations and subsequent sex-crimes charges came to light, about his alleged behavior.
"You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome," Weinstein is quoted as saying to Theodoracopulos. "I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere. You got lots of girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did, and still does, everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman.”
Theodoracopulos said the interview took place in his New York office above Cipriani’s and that Weinstein's lawyer, Ben Brafman, was also present.
Shortly after the story published, Brafman said Weinstein was misquoted and Theodoracopulos issued a retraction over what he called a "social" visit.
“I was present for the conversation; it was not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends," says Brafman in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light. Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors. You have my word that Harvey did not say that.”
Theodoracopulos added in a statement: “After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinstein's conversation with me in New York last month. It was my mistake. We were discussing Hollywood and I may have misunderstood certain things about the methods of that place. I had nothing to do with the headline of my article and I hope I have not damaged his case. It was, after all, a social visit."
Theodoracopulos said in the story that he and Weinstein were reunited because Weinstein came to him with a "world exclusive" pitch about the relationship between Asia Argento and the late Anthony Bourdain. Argento's friend, Rose McGowan, was quick to condemn the story on social media, writing: "Being that I was in the middle of my second film for his company, having NEVER met him before the morning of my rape, and never worked for him again, this is a clear lie. Nice try, rapist."
Argento later offered her own thoughts, writing explicitly on Twitter: "I understand now who is behind the horrifying trolling and bullying directed against me and @rosemcgowan. Weinstein, you fucking monster rapist, still trying to damage and hurt us. Not for long. You’ll go to jail."
Both McGowan and Argento have accused Weinstein of sexual assault; Weinstein has denied any allegations of non-consensual sex. In May, Weinstein was indicted on rape and criminal sex act charges in the first criminal case to arise from the 80-plus claims of sexual misconduct allegations that were leveled against the former movie mogul. Brafman said he would "vigorously defend" Weinstein against the indictment and ask for a dismissal. Earlier in July, Weinstein plead not guilty to three additional sex-crimes charges. He is due back in court in New York on Sept. 20.