She Said: the inside story of the Weinstein investigation
Many know New York Times investigative journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey as the first to publish a report of former film producer Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of women, from aspiring actresses to major film stars to his own employees at the Weinstein Company. She Said, published just last month, is Kantor and Twohey’s account of their investigative process, which involved locating some of Weinstein’s many victims and convincing them to share their story, as well as the aftermath of the publication, which brought the MeToo Movement to prominence.
However, those expecting She Said to be a celebration of the movement with an optimistic outlook on the progress of women’s rights will be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Firstly, She Said does not only offer a condemnation of Weinstein but a host of other powerful individuals who either turned the other way or enabled his behavior. This included the Weinstein Company’s many senior executives who dismissed Weinstein’s behavior as “philandering,” choosing to not act until rumors surrounding Weinstein endangered the company.
Attorneys, as well as the legal system, are also condemned. Weinstein’s attorneys went to great lengths to conceal his crimes, including intimidating and spying on his victims. But Kantor and Twohey are also critical of Weinstein’s victims’ own attorneys, many of whom advised their clients to sign strict non-disclosure agreements in exchange for a payoff instead of reporting Weinstein to law enforcement.
Additionally, Kantor and Twohey highlight how a high-profile women’s rights attorney, Lisa Bloom, accepted nearly $900 an hour with a $50,000 retainer to work for Weinstein. She Said details Bloom’s correspondences with Weinstein in which she articulates that, based on her experience representing assault victims, she knows how to effectively smear his accusers so that few will believe them.
Another detail of She Said likely to make readers uncomfortable is Weinstein’s relationship with former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Weinstein served as a “bundler” for Clinton’s campaigns—essentially raising millions of dollars for the campaign by “bundling” checks from his wealthy associates. According to Kantor and Twohey, the Clinton campaign had been warned multiple times, as early as 2008, to not associate with Weinstein because of rumors of his predatory behavior, which the campaign essentially chose to shrug off.
Kantor and Twohey indicate that they were shocked by the attention their story on Weinstein received, noting that they soon received so many stories from sexual harassment victims that they couldn’t possibly investigate all of them. Kantor and Twohey express regret that, because employers and law enforcement so often fail them, victims increasingly feel like their only recourse is going to the press.
Ultimately, She Said highlights a concerning cultural divide that arose in the aftermath of the Weinstein story, including the very public debate surrounding Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when the two were in high school. Kantor and Twohey, while offering something of a peaceful resolution for Weinstein’s accusers, don’t have any easy answers for how to approach this developing cultural schism.
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