The Media Today

Harvey Weinstein surrenders, and #MeToo reporting continues

May 25, 2018

At 7:26 this morning, Harvey Weinstein walked through the blue doors of Manhattan’s 1st police precinct, where he is expected to be charged with rape and sexual assault. The disgraced movie mogul’s downfall came after dozens of women spoke about their encounters with Weinstein with reporters. “I think for every woman who spoke for this story, it’s an incredible and unexpected moment,” The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

Nearly eight months after reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker blew the lid off of Weinstein’s “open secret,” Weinstein will face legal repercussions for his alleged behavior. Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, and Ronan Farrow shared this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their work on the Weinstein story, and the impact of their reporting is hard to overstate. As journalists around the country began digging into the misconduct of powerful men, a new beat was launched virtually overnight. The stories of harassment, abuse, and intimidation came from politics, business, media, and film, launching a cultural reckoning few could have predicted back in October.

ICYMI: A reporter asked for 20 years of lottery winner data. After analyzing the records, he noticed something unusual.

The series of events that led to Weinstein’s expected arrest began with on-the-record comments by several women, including former aspiring actress Lucia Evans, to The New Yorker, according to Farrow. “The day after the New Yorker story was published online, two detectives drove to upstate New York to visit Evans’s parents at their home. The following day, they talked with Evans and her husband in Washington, D.C., and told her that if she filed a complaint, they could use it to put together a criminal case,” Farrow writes. Weinstein is also under investigation for sexual assault in Los Angeles and London.

The same day news of Weinstein’s impending arrest broke, CNN’s An Phung and Chloe Melas reported that eight women have accused Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment. In total, the reporters spoke with 16 people who “described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company.”

The story is unique in that one of the women speaking out is also a co-author of the piece. Melas was interviewing Freeman more than a year ago at a press junket when, according to Melas, Freeman made inappropriate sexual comments toward her in a room full of people. “After the encounter with Freeman, Melas started making calls to see if other women had experienced anything similar, or whether this was an isolated incident,” the authors write. “She soon learned that other women had similar stories—and so she, and later her co-author, began this months-long reporting process.” Hours after the story broke, Freeman apologized “to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.

In the months since the initial Weinstein stories, dozens of reporters have worked to expose systemic issues of harassment and abuse in almost every industry imaginable. Kantor, Twohey, Farrow, and—most importantly—the women who spoke with them, catalyzed a global reckoning, the repercussions of which continue to be felt.

Below, more on Weinstein’s imminent arrest.

  • The charges: The New York Times reported Thursday that Weinstein will be charged with raping one woman and forcing another to perform oral sex on him.
  • Tracing Weinstein’s downfall: The New York Times’s Maya Salam puts together a timeline of events from the moment the paper broke the story. Salam draws attention to powerful first-person pieces by Lupita Nyong’o and Salma Hayek that ran in the Times.
  • McGowan speaks: Megyn Kelly will have Rose McGowan, who has spoken publicly about her experiences with Weinstein, on her show this morning at 9am.
  • Unusual circumstances: The Wrap’s Jon Levine writes about the decision to have Melas report out a story in which she was also a source. CNN said in a statement that Melas’s “efforts were supported by a robust editorial team, as well as her co-author An Phung, and together they carefully reported this story out over many months. Per CNN standards, it was rigorously vetted by senior editors throughout the process. Their piece is an example of investigative journalism at its finest.”


Other notable stories

  • For New York, Yashar Ali profiles John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal reporter who “battled corporate surveillance and intimidation to expose a multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley startup as a fraud.” Carreyrou’s book on his investigation of the Silicon Valley health-care company Theranos is out this week. Bill Grueskin writes of the Journal’s owner, “Say what we will about Murdoch, but his refusal to bend to pressure from Theranos or kill @JohnCarreyrou’s @WSJ scoop is a model for any publisher. Net cost to Rupert: $125 million.”
  • Big changes at the top of The Daily Beast: Editor in Chief John Avlon is heading to CNN, where he’ll be a senior political analyst and fill-in anchor. Noah Shachtman will take the reins of The Beast, an outlet that has emerged as a scrappy scoop-breaker in the Trump era. Here’s Shachtman’s memo to staff.
  • CJR’s Justin Ray looks at the “pivot to Netflix” by outlets like BuzzFeed and Vox. Ray writes that both digital outlets “face the task of translating their brands, originally geared toward a younger demographic, to a broader audience.”
  • There’s some good reporting on ESPN’s business woes in Shalini Ramachandran’s Wall Street Journal piece, but the title—“How a Weakened ESPN Became Consumed by Politics”—conflates the sports broadcaster’s subscription loss with political controversies in a way that’s not supported by evidence. As Deadspin’s Timothy Burke points out, “There is no evidence whatsoever that ESPN is losing subscribers due to its ‘politics.’”
  • For CJR, Jared Schroeder explores a fascinating question in the social media age: Are bots entitled to free speech?
  • The San Antonio Express-News has laid off 14 staffers, the paper reports. “The layoffs were spread across the newsroom affecting writers, editors and photographers on the sports, metro, features and photo teams.”
  • Tesla boss Elon Musk spent the week taking shots at reporters and launching broadsides against the media industry, drawing comparisons to Donald Trump. But in a smart piece of analysis on media literacy, BuzzFeed News EIC Ben Smith says those comparisons are unfair—to Trump.
  • Speaking of BuzzFeed, Bloomberg’s Gerry Smith takes a look at the company’s business model as it makes its first foray into Hollywood with a documentary based on its reporting on R. Kelly. One year after missing revenue targets and laying off about 100 people, BuzzFeed’s sales have risen due to a growing e-commerce business and the company’s decision to start selling programmatic advertising, Smith reports.

ICYMI: Trump Twitter ruling has implications for all government officials

Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.