A former Hollywood reporter for the NY Times brings to light that they squashed a Harvey Weinstein story she wrote for the paper back in 2004.
Sharon Waxman published an article in The Wrap detailing her experience trying to get the story published with the Times more than a decade ago, when she was a relatively new reporter there. She refers to The New York Times as a “media enabler” that allowed Weinstein to keep his conduct hidden from public criticism—in light of a recently published self-congratulatory Times article in which the media company praises itself for exposing Weinstein, while holding other media who rejected the story in disdain.
Waxman shares how Weinstein, his lawyer David Boies, and spokesman Matthew Hiltzik personally came to the Times’ headquarters to pressure the paper and kill the story in 2004. She says they met with then executive editor Bill Keller and possibly with Jill Abramson, another top editor who would go on to become the Times’ first female executive editor. At the time, Weinstein was a major advertising partner at the paper.
The result of that meeting was that Waxman’s article was gutted of any evidence of sexual misdeeds carried out by Weinstein and the former head of Miramax Italy, Fabrizio Lombardo. The article instead became a story about Lombardo as a man who wasn’t qualified for the position he was hired for and then fired. The story was originally about Lombardo’s absence of any skill in helping to run a movie business, and that his sole role was to procure women for Weinstein, earning him a six-figure salary.
Waxman said via The Wrap that she had originally uncovered a portion of the allegations now famous through stories in the Times and The New Yorker. An interviewee for her story, Asia Argento, is featured in the New Yorker article corroborating information that was stripped out of her Times article by editors.
Waxman explained her reasons for bringing the experience to light now.
“Today I wonder: If this story had come to light at the time, would Weinstein have continued his behavior for another decade, evidenced by the scathing 2015 memo by former staffer Lauren O’Connor unearthed by Kantor and Twohey.”
Kantor and Twohey are the writers of the now famous Oct. 5 Times article exposing Weinstein.
When questioned by Waxman about the Weinstein meeting, Keller held a combative tone, via an email to Waxman.
“Ten-plus years later, the NYT and the New Yorker scooped you, and I’m sure that feels awful. But don’t blame editors or Harvey’s bullying for the fact that you failed to nail the story,” wrote Keller via The Wrap.
But Waxman doesn’t look at it that way.
“Sadly, it’s not about being ‘scooped.’ It’s about whether the Times did the best job it could to serve its readers and the women who were being preyed upon in the years subsequent to the fate of my story. Certainly I would not have raised such a fuss if I did not believe that I had valid reporting that should have appeared in print at the time,” wrote Waxman.
In the time since her departure from the Times, she became founder and CEO of The Wrap, from where she now continues to explore the story of the peculiar Italian executive under Harvey Weinstein, who is now under the spotlight of the media.