The Media Today

The media today: When the ‘Weinstein effect’ became a flood

November 10, 2017

Thursday seemed inundated with one blockbuster story after another of sexual harassment and assault. The Washington Post published its 30-source investigation into GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. The Information published allegations against Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. The Huffington Post detailed the “nightmare” conditions female public defenders experienced due to masturbating inmates at the Cook County jail. And The New York Times published three stories: an op-ed by swimmer Diana Nyad about being sexually assaulted by her swimming coach when she was 14, a report against celebrity hotelier Andre Balazs, and allegations by five women against the comedian Louis Székely, known as Louis C.K.

HuffPost Senior Editor Chloe Angyal tweeted that her news organization’s front page actually ran out of space to include them all.

RELATED: The story BuzzFeed, The New York Times and more didn’t want to publish

In the scope of sexual assault reporting in the Weinstein era, triple bylines, muscle paragraphs, and dozens of on-the-record sources have almost become standard. But yesterday’s Washington Post report on Moore stood apart for several reasons: None of the women involved contacted reporters—the story began with a tip that was carefully investigated—it included details about sources’ biographies to pre-empt any character assassinations, and it immediately prompted a slew of its own reporting. In addition to gathering reactions from GOP senators, the Wall Street Journal reached out to all four of the women in the Post’s investigation. “I stand by the interview I gave The Washington Post and feel that I am represented accurately in the story,” Debbie Wesson Gibson told the Journal.

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The Times story about Louis C.K. made news hours before its publication after multiple outlets reported the New York premiere of his controversial new film I Love You, Daddy and C.K.’s appearance on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had both been canceled. Colbert addressed the news report, but the Times called the comments “a gentle jab” compared to his segment on Moore.

Only a few hours after these stories came out, The New York Times held a TimesTalk event with Gender Editor Jessica Bennett and reporters Megan Twohey, Katie Benner, and Emily Steel, who helped break the Weinstein, Silicon Valley, and Bill O’Reilly stories at the paper. In addition to offering insight into how they did their work (“A lot of three-hour phone calls,” Steel says, also revealing she once joined a source’s Pilates class to get the interview) and the history of women’s mistreatment in the workplace, the reporters highlighted the systemic issues behind all their stories: “It hit home for me when I spoke to an attorney who worked on some of the Fox cases who said, right now, the system is set up to protect men’s ability to make money over a woman’s right to live her life and have a job,” Benner said.

ICYMI: CNN airs problematic gun photo

Below, more on what happened with the wave of sexual assault stories:

  • A scoop slips away: Jezebel has an interesting behind-the-scenes report on how long the outlet tried pursuing the Louis C.K. story. It’s worth noting Gawker published the original blind item about the issue in 2012.
  • An awkward time for critics and fans: Emily Nussbaum on the necessary shift in how we look at comedy and art is worth reading. Matt Zoller Seitz explains why C.K. irrevocably betrayed the trust of his audience. And Scaachi Koul reflects on how C.K.’s beloved comedy work about his flaws only made the revelations worse.
  • A whistleblower who gained nothing: Sarah Wildman writes about how she was harassed at The New Republic by Leon Wieseltier, spoke up about it, and nothing happened.
  • It’s not just women coming forward: Eddie Huang, the restaurateur, author, and host of the Vice show Huang’s World, opens up about the sexual assault he endured and then denied for 20 years.
  • How Capitol Hill’s culture of secrecy is hurting women: Marin Cogan explains why reports of sexual harassment have been slower to pour out of DC.


Other big stories:

  • Deadspin interviews the teen girl who posed as a married man so she could write for sports blogs, and the fallout after she also harassed multiple women.
  • Twitter paused its account-verification process after getting slammed for granting the blue checkmark to the organizer of the rally in Charlottesville.
  • Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch reports ESPN will lay off 100 more staff after the Thanksgiving holiday. The cost-cutting measure comes after 300 behind-the-scenes staff were laid off in April.
  • Anna Wintour interviews Meryl Streep at Vogue. Everything about it is delightful.
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.