A flood of testimony against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been exposed in the wake of the New York Times‘ release of an expose detailing multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the producer.
Last week, the New York Times detailed the claims of numerous women who stated that Weinstein had sexually harassed them, and had received settlements from him in exchange for their silence. Episodes included asking Ashley Judd to watch him shower, masturbating in front of Lauren Sivan and paying a $100,000 settlement to Rose McGowan.
The New Yorker also related allegations from three women, including Lucia Evans and Asia Argento, who claim that they were raped by Weinstein and forced to perform and receive oral sex. Mira Sorvino reported Weinstein attempted to pressure her into a physical relationship in 1995.
Four other women have also claimed that they were inappropriately touched by the Hollywood mogul. The New Yorker has alco released disturbing audio from the 2015 encounter between Weinstein and Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, in which Weinstein admits to groping her.
On October 8, the embattled producer announced that he had been fired from the Weinstein Company. This led to rumors that Weinstein planned to head to Europe for sex rehab, which prompted the FBI to open an investigation over fears that he may attempt a Polanski-style escape from prosecution. However, according to the Daily Mail, Weinstein had a last-minute change of heart and decided to travel to Arizona for treatment.
The FBI is said to be looking into allegations that Weinstein forced Lucia Evans, who at the time was an aspiring actress, to perform oral sex on him in New York in 2004.
On Wednesday, the NYPD announced that the Special Victims Division had been ordered to attempt to identify, locate, and interview any other potential victims. Under New York State law, there is no statute of limitations on rape and criminal sexual acts, its legal term for forced oral or anal intercourse.
This is not the first time Weinstein has dealt with allegations regarding abusive sexual proclivities. In March of 2015, Weinstein was accused of touching the breasts of a 22-year-old Italian model during a business meeting. It was reported at the time that Weinstein had reached a settlement, and would not face criminal charges.
Interestingly, The International Business Times reported that Weinstein’s attorney, David Boies, gave $10,000 to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. just months after his office declined to pursue charges of sexual assault.
Weinstein is also known for his support for Roman Polanksi, who fled to Paris in 1977 in order to escape charges in relation to the rape of 13-year-old Samantha Geimer.
Weinstein created a petition on Polanski’s behalf and contributed an article for the Independent calling for the producer to be allowed to return to the United States without fear of legal prosecution.
Weinstein wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time.”
Following the release of the New York Times’ initial report, Weinstein released the following statement:
That Weinstein would shift blame for his appalling behavior on his ‘coming of age’ in the 60’s and 70’s, stating that the rules regarding “behavior and workplaces were different,” is a disgrace. His implication that treating a woman with the same respect and dignity that one treats any man is something that “…isn’t an overnight process,” demonstrates the depth of his sexism and appears to be an extension of his deeply abusive thought process.
Weinstein goes on to insert politics into the situation in order to deflect from the issue while passing blame to Republicans, stating that he will channel his full attention and anger towards the NRA and its CEO Wayne LaPierre. Weinstein went on to state that he is making a movie about the President, and also points out that last year he, “…began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC.”
Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Weinstein’s statements reek of yet another attempt to buy off his guilt, by paying money into causes which might reinstate his credibility. This act only further cements his image as an abusive individual, incapable of taking responsibility for his actions, lacking any sense of real remorse for his serious wrongdoings.
Weinstein has also announced that he intends to sue the New York Times in response to their initial article on the matter. Weinstein went on to further state that: “In the past I used to compliment people, and some took it as me being sexual, I won’t do that again. I admit to a whole way of behavior that is not good. I can’t talk specifics, but I put myself in positions that were stupid, I want to respect women and do things better”.
The combination of deflection and retaliation seen in Weinstein’s comments echoes the combination of pleading and thinly veiled threats heard in the audio tape of Weinstein and a young woman who repeatedly refused his advances. During the clip, Weinstein alternated between repetitive pleas, with threats to the woman’s reputation, exemplifying manipulative and abusive tactics.
According to the Daily Mail, Weinstein believes that there is a “conspiracy with a political agenda” behind the recent slew of revelations. Weinstein was reported to have indicated that a team of lawyers are being financed by conservative organizations, who are digging up these stories because, “…[they] know he is long-time foe of the NRA, of Donald Trump, and a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democrats.”
Weinstein further explained, “The Times had a deal with us that they would tell us about the people they had on the record in the story, so we could respond appropriately, but they didn’t live up to the bargain.” He went on to further state that the New York Times was working against him, claiming that they never report on the good things he has done, and instead focus on trying to bring him down.
As reported by CNN, numerous accusers of Weinstein have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), preventing them from detailing their allegations and experiences with the producer.
Despite these allegations, one of the most troubling piece of information has been the way in which Weinstein’s behavior towards women was well-known throughout the Hollywood community for so many decades before his exposure. Axios wrote: “Harvey Weinstein was Hollywood’s biggest open secret”.
According to the New York Times, “Dozens of Mr. Weinstein’s former and current employees, from assistants to top executives, said they knew of inappropriate conduct while they worked for him. Only a handful said they ever confronted him.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper took to twitter to claim that a Hollywood producer he knows stated that he is: “Shocked it’s taken so long for a Harvey Weinstein behavior expose. One of the most open secrets in Hollywood.” To Kathy DeClesis, Weinstein’s brother’s former assistant, Harvey’s harassment was well known. DeClesis claimed that Weinstein’s behavior “It wasn’t a secret to the inner circle”.
Rebecca Traister, writer for TheCut.com, claimed that she has, “…been having conversations about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment for more than 17 years.”The Los Angeles Times quoted one former Miramax executive as stating: “The only thing I’m surprised about is how long it took.”
What’s more troubling is that some media outlets knew of these allegations over the years, but decided not to report or publish any articles relating to them. For example, New York Magazine is said to have had the Weinstein story over a year ago, but decided to scrub the story entirely. According to reporter Ben Wallace, one source stated that: “[The] New York magazine had the story a year ago, and Harvey had it killed.”
Even the New York Times, which broke the Weinstein story, has been accused of scrubbing a past article on Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. Press reports indicate that Sharon Waxman, a former reporter at the Times, wrote in The Wrap about her attempt to write a story on Weinstein in 2004—and then he bullied the Times into dropping it. Matt Damon and Russell Crowe even called her directly to get her to back off the story.
However, after traveling to Europe and interviewing witnesses and even an alleged “procurer of women” for Harvey, Waxman stated that: “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.” Waxman reported that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known.
According to CNN, NBC also had the Weinstein story for months, but they too decided against publishing it.
Weinstein has also developed close relationships with political figures including the Obama and Clinton families.
Between 2011 and 2013, Weinstein personally donated over $72,000 to the Obama campaign, giving $5,500 to Obama for America, and $66,600 to the Obama Victory Fund.
Weinstein was also awarded the title of “bundler” during the 2012 presidential campaign, raising $679,275 for the Obama campaign. Weinstein hosted fundraisers at his residence in Connecticut and Manhattan, which were attended by President Obama, with admission set at $35,800 and $32,400 per person.
Weinstein had a particularly close relationship with former first lady Michelle Obama. For example, in her remarks at the 2013 Careers in Film Symposium, Mrs. Obama referred to Weinstein as, “A wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.”
Michelle Obama wore a dress designed by Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, at the 2012 White House State Dinner, attended by Weinstein and his wife.
The Hollywood producer is also responsible for the first lady’s surprise appearance at the 2013 Oscars, where she announced the award for Best Picture.
The producer has also hired some of President Obama’s former staffers, including deputy campaign manager and top presidential aide, Stephanie Cutter. According to Buzz Feed, in the wake of the escalating scandal surrounding him, Weinstein hired Anita Dunn, a top Obama campaign staffer and former White House Communications Director, to help consult and provide damage control advice.
At the time of this writing, former President Obama has remained silent in regards to his relationship with Weinstein, as well as the continued sex abuse allegations surrounding him.
Weinstein is also close to the Clinton family, and was an outspoken of supporter of Clinton throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, even advising former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook to silence Bernie Sanders’s Black Lives Matter message.
From 1999 to 2016, Weinstein personally donated $70,000 to former Secretary Clinton, as well as various PACs supporting her.
Weinstein attended other fundraisers for the Clinton campaign during the 2016 Presidential election, and with the help of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, helped host a fundraiser for Clinton at the residence of fashion designer Vera Wang in 2015.
On top of all this generous support, Weinstein donated between $100,000 – $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Weinstein didn’t stop at financial support, even engaging in a public role for the former President In 2012, when Weinstein was allowed to sit-in for Piers Morgan and interview former President Bill Clinton.
That same year, the Weinstein Company acquired domestic rights to “The Oath of Tobruk,” a documentary about the fall of Moammar Gaddafi. Weinstein interviewed Clinton for the film, and stated that its purpose was to highlight the Secretary’s leadership in Libya.
In 2014, it was reported that the Clinton’s would be staying in a new summer home in Amagansett, New York, where their new next-door neighbor would be none other than Harvey Weinstein. E-mail exchanges between Weinstein and Secretary Clinton from 2010, 2012, and 2013 further illustrate the close relations between the two.
Weinstein’s relationship with Clinton goes back to 2008, where, according to CNN, Weinstein threatened to cut off contributions to congressional Democrats unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced his plan to finance re-votes in Florida and Michigan.
Weinstein and Pelosi spoke on the phone, where he not only pushed for a revote, but also urged Pelosi to back off her previous comments that superdelegates should support the candidate who’s leading in pledged delegates in early June.
The relationship between Clinton and Weinstein led Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to tweet: “Hillary Clinton is a fake feminist. She has butchered tens of thousands of women for political advantage and set back women’s rights by hundreds of years.” Assange tweeted further, reiterating that “Hillary Clinton has set back women’s rights by hundreds of years.”
Weinstein also has strong ties to the Democratic Party as a whole, donating $50,000 to MoveOn.org, and over $654,000 to various arms of the Democratic National Committee, including: DNC Services Corp. ($296,290.45), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($193,392), and the Senate Majority PAC ($100,000).
Weinstein shelled out cash to a number prominent Democrats, including: former Secretary of State John Kerry, Al Franked (MN), Cory Booker (NJ), Chuck Schumer (NY), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
According to The Hill, many democratic politicians have chosen to either return or donate money given to them by Weinstein. However, the DNC has decided to only donate $30,000, a small portion of contributions it received from Weinstein, to EMILY’s List, Emerge America, and Higher Heights, all left leaning PACs with the goal of electing Democrats.
The recent controversy surrounding Weinstein has exposed the hypocrisy many on the left and in Hollywood, who claim to be champions of women, and have been extremely quick to call out others who have been accused of far less.
One example, would include attorney Lisa Bloom. Despite representing Weinstein for only two days before resigning, Bloom’s support of Weinstein made waves, as she is best known for representing women who were alleged to be victims of sexual harassment by primarily conservative political figures. She has also been credited with helping “topple” Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly, representing numerous women who claimed that the former host had sexually harassed them.
During the 2016 Presidential Election, Bloom, with her mother Gloria Allred, also made headlines, representing four women who claimed that they had been sexually harassed by then Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
On October 5, Bloom released a statement initially announcing that she would be representing Weinstein. In her announcement, Bloom claimed claimed to have explained to him that the “times have changed” and that he needs to “evolve to a higher standard”. Bloom went on to excuse Harvey’s behavior by referring to him as an “old dinosaur learning new ways”.
According to the New York Times, Bloom was pressured to resign by two members of the board of The Weinstein Company. The Times claims that the board members pressured her to resign in response to an email she had sent, outlining her plan to discredit Weinstein’s accusers, including the revelation of: “photos of several of the accusers in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct.”
That a self-proclaimed champion of women who have been victims of sexual abuse would not only defend someone like Weinstein, but would actively plan to blame and discredit his victims is extremely disconcerting.
By excusing his behavior by claiming that he is an “old dinosaur learning new ways”, while on the other hand stating that it is important to “not disregard rape cases against famous men”, Bloom has exposed herself as a complete hypocrite. However, none of this is surprising, as Bloom announced on twitter in April: “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: My book SUSPICION NATION is being made into a miniseries, produced by Harvey Weinstein and Jay Z!”
Other prominent political figures have come to Weinstein’s aide including Chelsea Clinton, who tweeted a thread on the subject by Judd Legum of Think Progress, a progressive blog created and owned by former Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta through his Center for American Progress.
MSNBC Host Joy Reid also chimed in, turning the Weinstein scandal into a political attack against conservatives, tweeting: “What Harvey Weinstein did is awful, full stop. But please spare me the outrage of GOPers who to this day support & curtsey to Donald Trump.”
In another instance, Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, which is known for being heavily critical of President Trump, stated that the show made the decision not to roast Weinstein because he was “from New York.”
That figures who make their living via a pretense to liberal social values or feminism would ardently support an apparently well-known, long term sexual abuser of women who has faced multiple legal allegations over years is extremely disturbing and deeply hypocritical.
New York Magazine attempted to misconstrue accusations against Weinstein scandal as politically partisan, publishing an article titled: “Right Wing Tries to Paint Harvey Weinstein as a Democratic Problem”. The article states that Republicans have “less than zero credibility on this issue”, going on to cite the Access Hollywood tape, infamously leaked during the 2016 Presidential election. The sound bite depicted Donald Trump engaging in a disrespectful, extremely lewd conversation regarding women with television host Billy Bush.
However, while devoting his time to attacking conservative figures speaking out about the Weinstein scandal in order to score political points, the author fails to mention that just over a year ago, the New York Magazine made the decision to scrub its own story exposing allegations of Weinstein’s sexual harassment, as well as the New York Times doing the same in 2004.
This indicates not only the shameful collusion of a major media outlet in preserving the sullied career of an alleged long term sexual predator, but also the hypocrisy with which the same outlet will paint any such issue as a partisan talking point.
The Weinstein revelations are troubling for many reasons. Not only do they expose someone at the top in Hollywood, but they reveal the true nature of a man who has a very close relationship with two former first families, and has received numerous, prestigious awards, including: being listed in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, being named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, being awarded with a chevalier’s rank in the Legion of Honor by the French Consulate in New York City, and being thanked more times than God at the Oscars.
In this authors opinion, the most troubling revelation is that not only was Weinstein’s behavior an “open secret” in Hollywood, but that he had the power to actually prevent major legacy media outlets from reporting on his abuses.
This is especially troublesome, because these are the same media outlets, politicians, and Hollywood establishment that feel the need to constantly lecture everyday Americans about what is right or wrong. It seems, to this author, that the same people who champion women’s rights and urge victims to speak out, seem to be the same ones ensuring women’s continued silence regarding the sexual assault by powerful individuals who benefit such circles.