N.Y. Times Details Harvey Weinstein Settlements, Threats and Powerful Silencing Machine
From politicians to media moguls to business leaders, Weinstein crafted a network of influence that allowed him to avoid repercussions for years.
In a new exposé, The New York Times has issued a lengthy report of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's business and social relationships, dealings and the "machine" that allowed him to commit numerous alleged acts of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct with little to no repercussion for decades. The wide-ranging piece was written by Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, Susan Dominus, Jim Rutenberg and Steve Eder. Twohey and Kantor were also the authors of the explosive Oct. 5 report on Weinstein that sparked several more pieces regarding the allegations against him.
The Times details Weinstein's relationship with David J. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer. Earlier Tuesday, top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct. The piece reports that Weinstein's close relationship with Pecker earned him an "untouchable" status enjoyed by a privileged few (referred to as "F.O.P.," or "friend of pecker") that includes President Donald Trump. Weinstein developed relationships with reporters by offering them close access to stars and book deals. Weinstein went as far as to pay one gossip writer to gather dirt on celebrities that he could later use to barter if other reporters came across an affair Weinstein was trying to keep quiet.
According to the new report, Weinstein attempted to stop Rose McGowan, who has since accused the disgraced producer publicly of rape, from writing a memoir by trying to arrange a $50,000 payment to McGowan’s former manager. He also tried to reach McGowan’s literary agent, who replied via email: “No one understands smart, intellectual and commercial like HW.”
Newly unearthed emails from September show Weinstein was discussing a documentary TV series with Hillary Clinton, of whose 2016 presidential campaign Weinstein was a big-time donor and supporter. Former Vanity Fair editor and Daily Beast founder Tina Brown and Lena Dunham both told the Times they had warned Clinton's aides about Weinstein's treatment of women. When Weinstein discussed distribution rights for the potential docuseries, Clinton's lawyer, Robert Barnett, replied, "I am hopeful we can get a good price for this."
A spokesperson for Weinstein responded, "Mr. Weinstein has been a significant contributor to both Republicans ([Rudy] Guiliani and [George] Pataki) as well as Democrats (Clintons, Obama), Mr. Weinstein has never had any discussion with any politician regarding claims of personal conduct. Although there were plans for a documentary at some point with Secretary Clinton, the project was never realized."
Shortly thereafter, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos took a call from Weinstein while on vacation in Hawaii. Discussing an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal at the time into Bezos' company, Weinstein recommended Bezos hire some of the producer's own team, including a particular libel lawyer who Weinstein said, “makes sure everyone sticks to the right narrative.”
A Weinstein spokesperson responded to these claims, saying Weinstein's "dozens of contacts over the years" with Bezos "were always professional and appropriate, and never at any time involved any discussions of allegations now being made for the first time against Mr. Weinstein."
He also used his powerful connections as threats to those who may speak out against him. “I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?” he would reportedly say during the Obama era. “I’m Harvey Weinstein,” he would tell people. “You know what I can do.”
In 2014, a Weinstein Co. employee of over 30 years, Irwin Reiter, began to take action in the company. Reiter, who worked in finance and accounting at the production company, took notice of Weinstein’s alleged harassment of a new employee and reckless spending habits, such as spending $27,000 of company funds on a tip for yacht staff and flying across the globe to pick up models in a private jet. Though reports of sexual assault and harassment had surrounded Weinstein since the early 1990s, executives at The Weinstein Co. had not taken any serious action against him. The Weinstein brothers employed “fear, intimidation, psychological and emotional abuse” on both their male and female executives, Miramax’s former co-head of acquisitions Amy Israel told the Times.
Weinstein was able to silence many of his accusers with legal measures, reaching upwards of a dozen settlements with women who claimed mistreatment. As Reiter learned more about Weinstein and his behavior at the company, he soon found himself under examination. Just before the Times published their initial expose, Weinstein reached out to Reiter to speak favorably of him, saying, “If you don’t help me, 180 people will lose their jobs.” Reiter refused and Weinstein shifted to threatening Reiter.
“His modus operandi was always to try to find something on someone else,” Reiter said.
In response to this latest article, Weinstein’s spokesperson refuted any claims of “inappropriate advances” on Weinstein’s part.
Weinstein is currently being investigated in New York, Los Angeles and London. His accusers currently number over 70.
Wed., Dec. 6 10:27 a.m. PST: Updated with Weinstein spokesperson's responses