Since The New York Times ran their bombshell story about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment, many have questioned why the story took so long to come out.
The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman, a former Times reporter, shed some light on the matter, recounting a period in her career when she took on a story involving rumors surrounding Weinstein and possible sexual harassment.
In 2004, I was still a fairly new reporter at The New York Times when I got the green light to look into oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. It was believed that many occurred in Europe during festivals and other business trips there.
Waxman then traveled to Rome and London where she learned about two people who had first-hand knowledge of Weinstein’s indiscretions overseas.
One a procurer who supplied Weinstein with women and the other, a woman who had received a payout after an “unwanted sexual encounter.”
The story Waxman wrote for the Times never ran.
Someone must’ve been made aware the story existed because Waxman writes (emphasis added),
After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.
So, one of the reasons Weinstein was allowed to continue to behave in the way that now lost him his job in 2017, would’ve been well-known if not for Hollywood not only turning a blind eye but actively coming to his defense.
This is probably why Weinstein thought his letter to Hollywood moguls shortly before his firing, begging them to write to the board of The Weinstein Company supporting him taking a leave of absence and against his firing, would work.
Waxman goes on to explain how her editor responded when she asked why the story was edited down.
The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?
The Times’ then-culture editor Jon Landman, now an editor-at-large for Bloomberg, thought the story was unimportant, asking me why it mattered.
“He’s not a publicly elected official,” he told me. I explained, to no avail, that a public company would certainly have a problem with a procurer on the payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the time, Disney told me they had no idea Lombardo existed.
How a Times editor could not see why a story about an executive as powerful as Weinstein mistreating women wasn’t a story, or that he wouldn’t use his power as leverage over women and their careers, is beyond me.
Waxman rightly questions the bravery or heroism being given to the Times now when they were one of Weinstein’s enablers.
The Times is as responsible for Weinstein’s continued harassment of women as it is for his firing from The Weinstein Company. Credit where credit is due, but it’s worth remembering their part in enabling the man.