As the coverage of Harvey Weinstein’s downfall enters its second week, difficult questions are being asked about how he got away with abhorrent behavior for so many years. Soon after The New Yorker published Ronan Farrow’s explosive exposé featuring testimony from several women and audio of Weinstein captured during a 2015 NYPD sting, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked why the story hadn’t appeared on NBC, where Farrow is a longtime contributor.
Over at The Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove has a deep dive into the circumstances that led to that decision, with sources painting contradictory portraits of why and how the story was spiked at NBC. What’s clear is that Farrow began reporting almost a year ago, and that he had made significant progress on a major story, even if it wasn’t completely ready to run. At some point this summer, NBC allowed him to look elsewhere for an outlet to publish the story, and The New Yorker’s David Remnick was happy to take it on.
“What happened at NBC is a media world mystery,” writes CNN’s Brian Stelter in his look at how the network was scooped on a major story for the second time in a year. (NBC had access to the infamous Access Hollywood tape before it was leaked to The Washington Post.) One source told Stelter that Farrow received a “stand down order” over the summer, even though he had already interviewed several accusers and had the NYPD tape in hand.
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim attempted to address the questions swirling around his organization at a previously scheduled staff meeting on Wednesday, saying, “The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us.” Oppenheim said he was proud NBC had “launched” Farrow on the story, and that executives simply didn’t feel it had all of the elements needed to go to air.
The controversy surrounding NBC’s decision to kill the story is only one piece of the larger issue concerning why it took so long to reveal Weinstein’s “open secret.” A powerful man with deep connections in the journalism world, Weinstein managed to manipulate, spin, and attack those who crossed him, using the press as a cudgel.
This is a media newsletter, so it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of how the story came together and who gets credit or blame. But in the midst of that discussion, it’s important not to lose sight of the central issue: the pervasive and too-long-ignored culture of abuse by men in positions of power. “The media piece of this is a conversation that can unfold over time,” Farrow told CNN’s Tapper yesterday. “I truly do think it’s very important for us to stay focused on the women.
Below, more on the fallout from the Weinstein story.
- Media complicity: “Weinstein used the media like a bludgeon to keep his alleged victims in line, by many accounts,” writes The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan. “He did it skillfully—and with plenty of help.”
- Power dynamics: The New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg looks at the difficulty in “facing down the network that protected Harvey Weinstein.”
- NBC tick-tock: HuffPost’s Yashar Ali and Lydia Polgreen have more details on how top NBC executives quashed Farrow’s bombshell story.
- Ahead of the curve: Two and a half years ago, the Gawker gossip blog Defamer highlighted allegations about Weinstein’s behavior and asked for tips that would help drag the story into the light.
- More from NYT’s Megan Twohey: In the latest update from one of the reporters who broke the story, Twohey reports that the Weinstein Company’s board was aware of accusations against Harvey when it renewed his contract in 2015.
- No place for politics: For CNN, Brian Lowry writes that “it’s time to put aside the political point-scoring in sexual-harassment coverage.”
Other notable stories
- Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, what national attention did focus on the island has largely moved on. But, as The Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia and Arelis R. Hernández report, much of the population remains without electricity, access to sufficient water, or aid from the government.
- For CJR, Tony Biasotti looks at The Athletic, a startup that aims to replace sports pages across the US and is already seeing some success.
- ESPN public editor Jim Brady says “the company’s reaction to [Jemele] Hill’s tweets should be worrisome to other journalists at the company.”
- From our print issue: Regina G. Lawrence and Amber E. Boydstun examine data from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center about how the press struggled with coverage of the Trump campaign.
- Lots of disturbing details in Gabriel Sherman’s story on the “crisis” in the White House, including the idea that Trump will avoid adversarial interviews. One request: Until we have evidence of an actual change in approach, can we retire the phrase, “an inflection point in the Trump presidency”?
- The Ringer’s Victor Luckerson asks if it’s time to regulate Silicon Valley.