How The New York Times' Investigation Into Harvey Weinstein Began

Sep 9, 2019
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It's been nearly a year since Christine Blasey Ford sat at a witness table before U.S. senators and accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault. To some people, she was a hero for speaking up publicly against Brett Kavanaugh. To others, she was a villain. New York Times reporter Megan Twohey says Ford was deeply conflicted before she made the decision to come forward.

MEGAN TWOHEY: There was actually even a moment in the beginning where she contemplated calling Kavanaugh directly and saying, listen; you know, why don't we just spare our families the trouble of me kind of coming forward with this in any way that could possibly become public?

KELLY: Twohey and another New York Times reporter, Jodi Kantor, chronicle Ford's journey in their new book. It's titled "She Said." It is mainly an account of how Twohey and Kantor broke the Harvey Weinstein story in 2017 and helped spark the #MeToo movement. We hear about that investigation elsewhere in the program. Now let's hear what happened to Christine Blasey Ford and other women who accused powerful men of sexual misconduct after they stepped out of the spotlight.

Here's Megan Twohey.

TWOHEY: So in December, just a couple months after her testimony, I flew out to California and met her at a restaurant for breakfast in Palo Alto. She showed up wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses. She was still - at that point, still very much in hiding. And so it was still - I mean, she was still very much feeling the repercussions of testifying. And while there were many people who were heralding her as a hero, she also was getting a lot of criticism and security threats.

You know, one day she would - in the months afterwards, we spent sort of dozens of hours talking to her. And you know, one day, she was tallying up all the reasons not to come forward. The next day, she would claim to have no regrets. So it was clear that her journey was going to remain complicated for many months, if not years, to come.

KELLY: So let me bring you to a moment this year at Gwyneth Paltrow's house in LA. The two of you convened an extraordinary group of 12 women. Tell me who was there and why.

TWOHEY: Well, this fall marks the three-year anniversary of the "Access Hollywood" tape being released, the second anniversary of the Weinstein story and the first anniversary of Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And in this gathering, we brought together women who were sort of central figures in all three of those stories. You know, Rachel Crooks, who was one of the first women to go forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump, was there; some of the first women to go on the record or sort of serve as sources in the Weinstein investigation, including Laura Madden, Gwyneth Paltrow; and then Christine Blasey Ford herself. And there was also Kim Lawson, who is a McDonald's worker who has been at the sort of heart of the battles for - to fight for better sexual harassment protections at that company.

KELLY: It's remarkable, by the way, even after all this, the trust that they put in you, that they allowed this to be on the record. It's amazing. What did they say about what they found on the other side after going through all this, deciding to put themselves out there?

JODI KANTOR: Almost all of them found...

KELLY: This is Jodi.

KANTOR: Yes, this is Jodi. Almost all of them found that it was transformational in a way that they had not expected, sometimes in really private ways. Laura Madden, who was a former Weinstein assistant - she had just rewritten a lot of her own life story based on the recognition she had come to during #MeToo.

Gwyneth Paltrow had sort of rewritten some of the story of her own career. Weinstein was her mentor. He is the one who made her a star. And she had this terrible recognition in the months after we published the story, which is that multiple Weinstein victims have said - is that Harvey Weinstein would cite Gwyneth Paltrow as he was harassing or assaulting them. He would say the equivalent of, well, look at what I did for Gwyneth Paltrow. Don't you want what she has?

And first of all, she says that she never succumbed to Weinstein sexually. But she had this devastating recognition that she felt he had basically used her as a tool of sexual predation and taken some of the things that people admire - you know, the wealth, the beauty, the prestige - and used it against other women. So there were really some pretty raw moments of talking about things like that.

KELLY: Well, let me draw us toward a close by asking each of you how you're feeling and where you think this #MeToo moment, #MeToo movement goes. And I'll throw it to you first, Jodi, because I interviewed you a year to the day after you had published this story. And you told me then that you felt like the reckoning continued and was continuing to grow bigger. Do you still feel that?

KANTOR: Absolutely. The durability of this has been staggering. It's not even a news story anymore. It's, like, a permanent reality. You know, Megan and I have been reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein situation all summer, and it hooks a lot of the same feelings as Weinstein. How big can this possibly be? How many people were affected? Why did nobody do anything about this? And the people who did try to do something - why were they stymied?

And so I think this is something we're going to be living through for a long time. I know there's a lot of controversy about solutions and how to address what's been brought up, but you can't address a problem that you can't see. And we're still beginning to just see the problem fully.

KELLY: Megan.

TWOHEY: I mean, one of the things that happened, you know, the moment that we published the Weinstein story is that we were inundated with a flood of women coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault and abuse. And that continues to this day. There are still so many women who want to come forward. There are still so many stories to report. So you know, we're hard at work on that every single day.

KELLY: That's Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of The New York Times. Their new book is "She Said: Breaking The Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement."

Thanks so much to both of you.

KANTOR: Thank you.

TWOHEY: Thanks so much for having us.

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