Harvey Weinstein is sorry. Harvey Weinstein is also suing The New York Times for their story published yesterday, detailing “decades of sexual harassment accusations” against him. Can you truly take responsibility while beginning litigation against the newspaper that exposed your misconduct?
Six months ago, back in April, the NY Times “found a total of five women who have received payouts from Bill O’Reilly or Fox News” in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about their accusations. You know about all the women who’ve accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Now it’s Harvey Weinstein who, according to the NY Times, “reached at least eight settlements with women” who claim he sexually harassed them. Why does it always have to be boatloads of women? What’s the threshold of belief?
The threshold of belief, amazingly, also depends on the women themselves. In their story, the NYT repeatedly references Lauren O’Connor, a former Weinstein staff member, who wrote a detailed memo describing Harvey’s behaviour. As noted by the Times, “she was a valued employee” which means …what? It means that her statements were more credible than, say, people who were just OK at their jobs. It’s classic victim expectation. The victims have to be perfect.
Harvey Weinstein released a statement to the NYT in response to their report. If you haven’t already, you can read that here. He opens not with an apology but a rationalisation – he grew up in the 60s and 70s, that it was part of the “culture” then to … take women up to his hotel room, get undressed, and ask them to watch him take a shower? It takes five sentences before he even uses the word “apologise”. Then the letter turns into a press release about Project Harvey that reads like the development of a new film – here are all the people he’s hired to help him, here’s the new and improved story about himself that he’s working on, here’s a quote from Jay-Z (that isn’t even a real Jay-Z lyric) that inspired this story, and I’ve been trying to tell this story for 10 years, and when it finally comes out, you’re going to see how hard I worked on it. Right? It’s EXACTLY how he would market a movie. It’s the same language, it’s the same approach, only this time, he’s marketing himself. As what, exactly?
Well, this is Harvey casting himself as the protagonist in a comeback narrative. Our hero made mistakes. Our hero had to learn. Our hero was knocked down. Our hero will get back up, he will come back stronger, and he will take down the real enemies: the NRA and the President of the United States. Which is curious because the President of the United States also has had his own “grab ‘em by the pussy” moment and a vendetta against The New York Times.
Donald Trump calls the NYT fake news. Harvey Weinstein is suing the NYT for defamation. In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, his attorney, Charles Harder explained:
"The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations."
In an interview with the NY Post, just hours after the story broke, Harvey further clarified his position.
“What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies. They made assumptions.
“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.
“The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.
He added that he believes the paper – which published a long negative piece about Weinstein’s dealings with amfAR a week ago – has a vendetta against him.
Weinstein explained, “They never wrote about the documentary I did with Jay-Z about Rikers Island, they never write that I raised $50 million for amfAR, nor my work with Robin Hood – instead they focus on trying to bring me down. This is a vendetta, and the next time I see Dean Baquet [the executive editor of the Times] it will be across a courtroom.”
Has anyone checked on Jay-Z? Is he like, DUDE, STOP SAYING MY NAME? I’m already eating sh-t for cheating on the Queen of All Greatness, Beyoncé. Would you leave me the f-ck alone?
When Harvey says he “bears responsibility” though, you’ll note that he hasn’t actually named what he has to bear responsibility for. In that NY Post interview, which you should read in its entirety to get the complete picture, he talks a lot about his volatile temper and it becomes the focus of his contrition. That he came of age in a different time, when bosses were allowed to yell and scream at employees, and THIS is what he specifies that he has to work on. There is NO acknowledgement about sexual harassment, which is the issue that we’re talking about. The New York Times wasn’t working on a story about his f-cking temper. They published a story about him badgering women who worked for him to come up to his room and give him a goddamn massage – who the F-CK is asking about his temper!?!
So it’s not that understanding wouldn’t be possible in a situation like this. In order to try to be understanding though, if you were inclined to want to understand Harvey Weinstein, there needs to be some demonstration that he actually understands that his behaviour has been offside. And he’s not showing any of that here, not in his statement to the NYT nor in his interview with the NY Post. If you can’t confront what you’re supposed to be sorry for, how can you ask for forgiveness? If you’re spending more time attacking the people who exposed you, and REHABILITATING YOUR IMAGE, which is totally in line with the reputation that protected you and enabled you to go almost THIRTY YEARS without consequence, how are you proving that you’re capable and open to change?
And he’s not just attacking the NYT either. He also seems to be going after Ashley Judd, even though Lisa Bloom, the lawyer who’s been advising Harvey, wrote in her statement (read that here) that he would not “demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him”. Really? Because here’s what Harvey had to say about Ashley to the NY Post:
“I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now, I read her book [her memoir “All That Is Bitter and Sweet”], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now I am going to reach out to her.”
Um…if that’s not an attack, what the f-ck else would you call it?
She was abused as a child and has mental health issues. So, basically, she’s crazy and …
Thanks, Harvey. For not “demeaning” the women making accusations against you. Thanks for reminding us that she had depression. Really subtle. Almost as if you want us to wonder whether or not she’s credible. That’s a move we see over and over again too by powerful men who try to discredit the women they’ve oppressed. Nothing about that is new. Just like nothing about these allegations is new. Not for those who’ve been following celebrity gossip and definitely not for anyone who works in Hollywood. As Ashley Judd told the NYT:
“Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”
Many others who work in the industry confirm that it’s been an open secret.
Everybody in the film and TV industry knew about Weinstein. Everybody.— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) October 5, 2017
Just like Roger Ailes was an open secret. And Bill O’Reilly. And Bill Cosby. In Cosby’s case, it took Hannibal Buress to make a joke about it during one of his performances to get the truth into the spotlight. And even still, even after all those women on the cover of NY Magazine, still Bill Cosby refused to be accountable. None of them ever do. Their power, their money, their resources immunise them against consequence.
The consequences for everyone else, however, are much more severe. For victims, especially. But also for those who orbit the story. If you’ve been, ahem, visiting this sight without blinders for a while, you probably know what I’m referring to here. What would you say if I told you I received a very intimidating letter? A warning? A serious threat. Would you react the way I did? Would you be afraid? Would you desperately want to “reveal” the names behind the story but were too scared to risk your business, a family business shared with your husband, and your livelihood? What would you tell me when I say that even today, even when it’s all slowly coming out, that I still can’t quite take that chance? That’s a small, small concession to make, an inconsequential concession, compared to the concessions that the women who were alone in those hotel rooms have had to make. The point is that that’s the reach of power. That’s the corrosive effect of power. It corrupts both the people who have it and the people who are subject to it. For those who have it, it becomes a weapon against the weak. And for the weak, it limits their freedom, it compels them to compromise, and in compromising, they become an accessory to that gun, the silencer that’s attached to it.
Attached: Weinstein walking in Soho earlier this morning in NYC.