Harvey Weinstein’s first instinct was to shift the blame to the newspaper shining a light on his troubled past.
That’s not working out too well.
I doubt we’ll ever see the lawsuit he threatened against the New York Times, not after his own company abruptly fired him Sunday night.
The Times also showed its willingness to take on a celebrated Hollywood liberal and major Democratic donor who has held fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and hired the former president’s daughter Malia as an intern.
Weinstein’s company, which he ran with his brother, took the story seriously enough to hire a law firm to conduct an outside investigation, and a third of the board of directors resigned. And then came the firing, supported by his brother Bob.
The Times had a number of on-the-record interviews, including with actress Ashley Judd, who said two decades ago Weinstein asked if he could give her a massage or she would watch him shower. And there was a memo, since withdrawn, by a female employee that described “a toxic environment for women” at the company.
On Saturday, a former anchor for New York’s News 12 told the Huffington Post that a decade ago Weinstein masturbated in front of her.
The fact that a number of women stayed silent, given Weinstein’s power in the industry, is obviously reminiscent of what happened with Bill Cosby, and the high-profile harassment cases at Fox News.
But the allegations against Weinstein, while getting some media attention, are drawing far less coverage. NBC has done very little. The cable news networks have each done a few segments. The late-night comics have stayed away. Several Democratic senators are returning or donating Weinstein’s contributions, but the DNC is giving up only a fraction of the overall dollar amount.
Now we’re hearing the allegations were an open secret in media and film circles. A New York magazine writer describes how Weinstein once screamed at her over a question he didn’t like and knocked down her boyfriend.
There was modest coverage two years ago when an Italian model named Ambra Battilana accused Weinstein of groping her, but the Manhattan DA declined to bring charges.
“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,” the Times said.
At this point, with Weinstein scrambling to salvage his job, it seems far-fetched that he would open himself up to discovery by actually suing the New York Times.