The Media Today

The media today: Covering Harvey Weinstein

October 9, 2017

Over the weekend, what happened to Harvey Weinstein had all the elements of a great movie: a dramatic and surprising reveal, several plot twists, interesting story lines, and the fall of a powerful person at the center of it all.

On Friday, the New York Times published its investigation into Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, detailing decades of rampant sexual harassment. By Sunday night, he had lost his adviser Lisa Bloom, one-third of his all-male board had resigned, and he was fired by a group that included his brother Bob Weinstein after another board member had left.

Lauren Sivan also told the Huffington Post about an incident she had with Weinstein a decade ago, while she was a local television anchor in New York. It involved isolation in a restaurant’s kitchen area with no other staff around, Weinstein exposing himself to Sivan, and masturbation.

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Media columnist Jim Rutenberg called out Weinstein’s “media enablers” in his column on Friday, and the role of the sky-high pile of positive press clippings in building his Hollywood empire. He quoted former media columnist David Carr’s 2001 New York magazine profile of Weinstein, of whom he was an astute observer: “As the keeper of star-making machinery, Weinstein has re-engineered the media process so that he lives beyond its downsides.”

But Sharon Waxman, a former Times reporter and founder of The Wrap, says in a story published yesterday she had investigated a similar story about Weinstein in 2004, even traveling to Italy and London for interviews. Waxman says the story never ran after interference from Weinstein himself, as well as Matt Damon and Russell Crowe. The final story in the Times had no references to the allegations of sexual coercion or the evenings organized with Russian escorts.  

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CNN’s Brian Stelter drew a direct line between what happened with Weinstein to the investigations into Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump involving sexual assault. “This is about how all men of all political leanings treat women in 2017 — especially men in power,” says the host of Reliable Sources. “The story is also about the power and balance that remains at many media companies and at many other kinds of companies.”

Below, more on what happened with Weinstein over the weekend:

  • Tough words from Mom: Before Bloom quit, her mother and famed women’s rights attorney, Gloria Allred, publicly rebuked her daughter’s choice to advise Weinstein, saying in a statement, “I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sex harassment.” Bloom responded by telling Variety, “I would never take a case where either my lawyer mother or my lawyer daughter is opposing counsel. That’s another area where we differ. I believe in family before business.”
  • Women’s whisper networks exist for a reason: Anne Helen Petersen explains how so many women knew about Harvey for so long and why it wasn’t a surprise to many when the Times’s story finally came out.
  • He’s always been notorious: Vulture collected 17 on-the-record stories about Weinstein’s outrageous behavior, including calling a columnist at the Los Angeles Times directly drubbing his company’s Oscar campaign: “You’re a piece of shit, your column is a piece of shit, no one cares what you write, they throw the newspaper away and wrap fish in it.”

Other notable stories:

  • Republican Senator Bob Corker sent out a scathing tweet on Sunday, calling the White House “an adult day care center”, and candidly spoke to The New York Times about  how President Trump’s reckless tweeting “threatens World War III.” National political correspondent Jonathan Martin says the interview is part of Corker’s “planned, public intervention” of the president. The senator also told Martin “it’s just not the way a president acts.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence left a Colts game after only a few minutes. CNN estimates the trip cost $242,500.
  • The digital director for the Trump campaign, Brad Parscale, tells 60 Minutes his team won the election with targeted Facebook ads and Republican employees working inside the social media company.
  • The president released a nearly 9-minute video about FEMA’s efforts in Puerto Rico.
Karen K. Ho is a freelance business, culture and media reporter, based in New York. She is also a former Delacorte Fellow at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @karenkho.