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Read this: The journalists who took down Harvey Weinstein

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The journalists who took down Harvey Wei…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 in January in a court and Harvey Weinstein will stand trial for rape and sexual assault the movie producer denies the charges just as he's denied allegations by more than 80 other women weinstein's Reckoning largely because of the diligence of two journalists to the New York Times Jodi kantor and Megan to ease reporting in 2017 triggered not only weinstein's downfall, but the global me too movement they won the Pulitzer Prize for the investigation and tell their story in a new book.

She says I'm very pleased to welcome them here to the moon.

Let's go back to the very beginning Jodie I'll start with U rumours about Harvey Weinstein have been circulating for years, but other journalists had tried and failed.

What made you decide to take it on you know it actually came about because of a very unlikely person Bill O'Reilly that's an American bed.

You may remember the really loud really influential really Bombastic right-wing talk show host who was on Fox news anchor picture.

You know a real fixture of the Murdoch empire and and and somebody who is very loud and proud and forceful about his right-wing views so the times in April 2017 and published the story by her colleagues Emily Steel in Michael Schmidt showing the head of women for a long time for allegations of sexual harassment has money and years he paid to keep them quiet so after the story was published O'Reilly was actually fired.

It was astonishing advertisers revolted the idea that a man at the top of the media food chain could lose this job.

I know that's now something for a custom to this seems like it was 100 sexual harassment stories ago, but at the time.

It was a game changer and also what make sure it is the peace settlements this has meant to journalism.

You know you would know we can do the story of the woman won't talk she took a settlement they actually showed that the settlements potentially were the story because it showed them and Adonis again and again you could find the legal and financial trial of those payouts and say why has he been paying all this money for all of these years to silence all of these women and had an effect became the story so anyway the O'Reilly story cast the Editors at the times to ask but now seems like a very quick question they said.

Is there a powerful men in American Life who have abused women and covered up and I asked a few of us to look into other cases and this was never just about Hollywood we're looking looking into restaurants and factories and we eventually did all of the stories but I did some parking around and I came back and I said I think we should try to do the story so how did you actually go about finding the women because just even getting in touch with some of these top name A-List Hollywood actresses mean.

There are probably some of the hardest people while to get in touch with particularly if you're going to be asking them very personal very difficult questions remember that Julie and I are not entertainment reporter investigative reporters didn't know any actresses when we started this investigation and actually trying to get those numbers that contact information for sort of Mini investigations and to themselves, but there were people.

The entertainment industry there were women working in the industry who had been concerned about these rumours of alleged predation by Harvey Weinstein and they sort it started to serve as can a switchboards of information slipping ask for contact information for some of these for some of these actresses and slowly but surely there were in the case of Rose McGowan Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow were the first actresses who started to I could have had conversations with us about the hard with Weinstein also finding out about employees assistance but certainly a much lower profile, but could also come up with allegations of sexual abuse.

Because I think what listeners of this show and people in the UK may not realise is that this is a British story there are three women in particular are former assistants as you who were at ground zero of this investigation.

So yes, they can fighting these terrible hotel room stories to ask but it was clear.

They were very reluctant to go on the record to the discovery of the second Strand of women was significant in So Many Ways his own employees and social allegedly of women who were directly working for you.

I mean that really cross is such a serious as a coline second value worried about they were not famous.

They were not particularly powerful because this happened in the context of company.

There is just a lot more evidence to follow the

Martin Creed stuff like company memorandum settlements and engineers and other employees who know what happened so two of those women Laura Martin and Zelda Perkins assistance really spoke to us in the summer of 2017 in Zelda case you was taking a massive legal and financial risk because she did have an nda non-disclosure agreement which prevents you from speaking night when she was very young.

She had tried to help a colleague report an alleged assault and instead of really being able to you.

No speak out or go to the authorities or do something halted Weinstein they ended up with a secret supplement which is what a lot of women end up with in situations like this.

I'm so sad that and I sat at a restaurant in London

She passed the wrinkled scraps of her Solomon papers to me and you know where the crazy things about how restrictive the settlement was is she wasn't even allowed in a copy of a full agreement these research Bits and Pieces She attached together, but this was an agreement saying that she and romina would never speak about what happened then even if they wanted to go to a doctor they need special permission if they wanted to tell an accountant where they got the money they need it special permission they couldn't warn other women what happened, etc.

Etc at the same time.

I was also speaking to Laura mad and and you know Laura Madden was living a pretty quiet life.

She still lives in Swansea Wales she was Estate at the time but she was a former Weinstein assistant with a terrible story of predation from an Irish hotel room at Dublin hotel room in the early 90s.

Can you tell the colleague about at the time but really have not spoken a lot about in the years since and was speaking to us in part because others have tried to intimidate her for me to call Tara warrant that they were quiet and quite cockroach journalists who were calling around to try to find out about this story.

I did not like the idea of being so instead of being told what to do so she shared her story with us and she eventually became the first woman to go on the record about Weinstein she was joined in the days before publication bias and it out.

She did it under pretty heart-stopping circumstances faced have breast cancer and she'll also just been divorced and we knew sort of any apps that she had this looming surgery on the horizon.

She needed a second mastectomy and reconstructive surgery as we grew closer to publication Megan and I realised with her.

Publication was basically going to coincide with her surgery date and we just said how can we ask her to do this? This is she's the one woman on the record and these are the circumstances under which he has to do it it seems like too much to ask if anybody but we couldn't afford to lose her because at that point with lots of other on the record evidence, but she was the only interview we had with a victim what happens if the night before publication.

She called her daughter teenage daughter's into her kitchen and Swansea and she they thought that she was going to do something about the upcoming surgery, but instead she told them the story of what happened with Weinstein and instead of being you know sort of horrified.

They were proud.

They thought it was great.

I was going to participate in this newspaper investigation to the morning of publication Megan and I woke up to a note from Laura saying I have thought a lot about this.

I realise that I have to speak out because I don't have one of these non-disclosure agreements.

I no longer working Hollywood said there's no threat to my career.

I have been through life-changing health issues.

I realise that time is important that time is precious and the confronting bullies is important.

I want my daughter's to grow up in a different world.

I'm happy to go very interested in the other journalistic methods that you were employed because you took their about some of the other evidence that you've got on the road a lot of it some of us you actually got from employees at Harvey Weinstein company and is rather old school you know looking up addresses and directories turning up on doorstep spadework here.

Yeah, absolutely there.

There was a moment actually in the summer of 2017 Jody hits of the 1990s occasion and I joined in on maternity leave.

First started, I'll tell you that one of the more memorable moments for me when I really started to think that there must have just been countless women who had van you know allegedly preyed on by there was a weekend to consider her kind of the patient zero of the wine Scene Investigation this was a woman who gone to work for Weinstein in 1990s first company miramax and mysteriously disappeared find some people suspected was an alleged sexual assault and nobody had ever heard from her again and I was able to track her down in a home outside of New York a family home with her.

I was actually expecting to encounter a family member of her.

I've been calling her at her place of work and leaving messages, but she wasn't calling me back and so I do about to this family home with an a letter of that I intended to leave for this family member of hers explaining what?

Why we hope that she might talk to us and instead.

She actually answered the door and so I was face-to-face with this woman and she said the first thing she said I can't believe you found me the second thing.

She said is I've been waiting for this knock on my door for 25 years, but like so many of the other women that we are starting to in Canada she also vent silencer one of these secrets adamant.

She was legally prohibited from telling us what had happened, but we were actually over the course of the next couple lines able to piece together the financial trail of Secrets elements that won't see him paid so that first one was in 1990.

We were ultimately able to show that when she had paid 12 at least 12 settlement stretching after 2015 the 0 time and time again here basically been able to cover his tracks, but the more that we were able to piece together this like legal and financial.

The more we were able to show that there is actually been a pattern to those payoffs and you know we also we also were ultimately able to extract internal company records from the wine company Megan at what stage did you find out that Harvey Weinstein had actually himself become aware of your investigation.

There was a moment in the summer of 2017 and 2017 summary of 2017 quite early in the investigation began in the spring of 2017 and stretched on for 4:45 five or six months and so there is a moment in the summer of 2017 when Jodie got a call from Lisa Bloom who is probably one of the most famous feminist attorneys in the United somebody that you would think would be reaching out to journalists who were working on a story like this because she had information to provide maybe she had encountered victims and wanted to help link them with the journalist.

In fact we soon realise that Lisa Bloom had actually done something remarkable she crossed sides to work for Harvey Weinstein but that was actually the first clue that we had that she was at that Harvey Weinstein was aware of the investigation and we wanted you want as much really running time as possible before the subject of your investigation because we knew that once he was aware that he was probably going to go into branch of a variety of Tactics to try to stop us because we mentioned reading your book.

I was actually fascinated by the machine that Harvey Weinstein had working for him.

Not just over the top lawyers and PR but you also a detailed company black humour which has got ex Israeli intelligence officers explained that they were there to do so that's why I got a very innocuous sending email from a woman named Diana Philip

She said oh, I'm a uk-based women's rights advocate.

I work in the corporate sphere were throwing this big feminism conference we really want you to participate.

Please.

Please have coffee you know and she seemed to be dangling money in the bargain like you're going to get a big fee for appearing at this thing and I really didn't think much of it at the time, but I just knew is not participating near x ethics rules prevent us from taking big corporate entities and also you know as mentioned we both have young kids at the time so I believe it off little did I know that that was our first clue that there is the sort of subterranean manipulative operation designed to undermine hot our story as you say Harvey Weinstein hired this entity called Black it's an Israeli firm.

It's a group of sort of ex-military spies and

Repeat they had an actual contract to try to do bus manipulators and more importantly our sourcing and there was even a kind of bounty on the story.

They had succeeded in defeating our story.

They would have gotten a $300,000 bonus and Powerful forces.

You are up against the women that you were talking to one of the most difficult aspects of this type of reporting is you know we desperately wanted a women to go on the record with their allegations.

He wanted other sources to participate in a reporting and in the story about it.

There are no guarantees that mean we can not guarantee that the impact of the story with B&O we were the result of a trail of can of the corpses of other investigations attempted investigating Weinstein in Ocho Rios

The doors and calling up people who talk to previous reporters only to see those stories die one of the things that we commonly heard was he know Harvey Weinstein scanner Martin to the times and kill this investigation.

There's no point in participating organizations that have tried to do the story about what we can tell you is that when we show up on your doorstep for showing up at the entire institution of the New York Times at our backs and so sure enough when it came time to go to Weinstein with our findings with everything that we were preparing the publish that really set in motion are wild roller coaster 48 hours and would she was starting to employ some of his most desperate to try to stop us and that included in forging into the New York Times uninvited at the day before the story published and he had biocide to of the kind of high-profile feminist wire.

Crossed over to his side he also came in with folders of information photos of some of the women who were going to be in our story in friendly sort of pictures with him on red Carpets and elsewhere as if those were for proof that they weren't telling the truth other information from their backgrounds that he thought he could use to try to smear them.

I think probably due diligence we do is report her sister describe the background of the women are going to be making allegations against him.

So it was in you know it's certainly was a moment in which he was made of but it was also an opportunity in which we were showing him what we were made of that we were not going to counter the intimidation and the threats and attempts to smear women that you had a whole of the New York Times behind you this clearly was a collaborative process how much support did you get from your own editor from the editor of New York Times from from the lawyers?

Lovely just before publication.

This was a huge team effort to be honest as a little bit about some of the parties involved really there's a third woman who broke the Weinstein investigation along with her name is Rebecca Corbett and she is a kind of unsung a newspaper hero not able to be snow in not somebody who appears in you know like Media gossip Diaries in New York she is very ambitious, but her ambition is personal.

She is the editor of The investigations unit that you work for exactly and when you when you look at some of the key strategic decisions.

We made throughout the process and including really for singers to show what we could prove in the paper.

I mean at a certain point about the call this into a dark bar and we ordered drinks and she listened to our material and weed.

About Weinstein at that point and she said you do not have a publishable story and so she was really pushing us to make the strongest possible, so she was part of it Dean became the editor of The Times and you can't add history Weinstein a try to push him around a few times.

We were the ones dealing with you know Weinstein team he wasn't doing the work for us, but you can see him sort of supervising this chess game Uno with Weinstein weighing in at critical moments including one especially dramatic had with Harvey right before publication the attorney.

We work with David McRae is just a hero of The Newsroom you know most attorneys tell you not to do things David find way at to let you do them and he was protecting the story every step of the way and anything the last group associated with the times.

I want to talk with her New York Times subscribers.

Times subscriber you paid for this investigation you did something historic without even knowing what you were doing or what you were paying for something the story goes to print on the 5th of October 2017 you have got you the assistance with worked for Harvey Weinstein on record you got Ashley Judd the actress on record.

You've got one of poultry as one but she didn't go on record and the original printed story it must have been one of the most significant days of your life.

How does it feel when it finally dropped that story and it was finally imprint well, we had been kicking around the clock and leading up to the the moment that we publish the story in fact.

We've been on the phone with Harvey Weinstein an hour before we push publish as he was making some and his last desperate attempt to stop us so we had been so immersed in the process of the final due diligence making sure that our eyes are dotted and TS were crossed that we hadn't actually.

That much that to what would happen after we published we had in fact units before the story ranjani, and I shall we have been working late into the night and we decided that we had to head home from the New York Times headquarters in meant to have Manhattan to taking a taxi back to Brooklyn where we both live and in a hash quiet at the taxi.

We return to each other and said do you think anybody is going to read this and I guess that's what we learnt you know within days of that's for story being published was that not only were people reading this story that there was just this response that we never could have anticipated very interesting and not follow the course was the explosion the whole me too movement Ronan farrow published in the New Yorker and all these women came forward not just about Weinstein how did that feel?

What you know? It's remarkable one of the things that we doing this book is report on we can we wanted to bring a lot of it.

What happened on our side of the investigation had been off the record had been done in secret and so we work hard to bring it on to the records.

So that readers can see what's happening on our side of the investigation as it unfolded we also did reporting on to what was happening and Harvey Weinstein side and including a you know within our story publishing his company held an emergency board meeting to decide what they were going to do with this kind of crisis, but it emerged and it's really interesting when we read through the notes of this meeting for two other some interesting that they were going to be by Weinstein side, even though even in the face of these revelations.

Are you wanting zone brother Bob Weinstein as predicting that up? You know it was hardly was done that was the end of his career but still fighting in the 11 to the end in system that actually there going to be more people like this are blue more women and seminars to work in a line up to seven.

And he actually had this incredible line which was your order will be a movement of support for him and he was obviously and that the movement went the other way back going to be a movement.

Just not the type that he predicted and Jodie and I could feel that shift happening almost immediately are emails and phone calls and phones were flooded with my man coming forward with their own story of sexual harassment and abuse some of them with stories about Weinstein women from all walks of life all different types of industries, but there is amazing chapter at the end of your book where you bring many of the key women actors and Weinstein employees who spoke to you on the record as well as Christine blasey Ford to testified against the night what judge Brett kavanaugh about an alleged sexual assault to Gwyneth Paltrow's house to talk about what they went through.

Why did you do that?

What if you had what if you were harlequin upon her house and Christine blasey Ford with their and women who come forward about Donald Trump Harvey Weinstein you know what everybody could have a conversation you know we did it for journalistic reasons.

It was a group interview and we felt that after everything that happened.

They were still I mean so many and addressed questions, but especially the one to focus on what actually happens after women come forward.

I want to be I want to describe what happens in that chapter with without I don't want to speak too much for them because I think part of the point is that they've got a varied set of points of View on this you know Ashley Judd was there and she's just consistently been treated as a heroine for going on the record about 9.

I think people really understand that when the moment called she put her career on the line to speak out and she did so at a time when no other.

What was really interesting was seeing them and begin to coach one another for example the word with expressing some struggle about reading about yourself on the internet us finding that people were saying things that we just patently untrue about her and grappling with you know will you do in that situation and actually turning Gwyneth Paltrow wrapped in and actually became so we've lived in the public eye.

You know all of our adult lives were used to this.

You know crazy amount of public scrutiny and here's the deal.

You've got to stop reading about yourself on the internet and if an alcoholic can stay away from one drink a day.

You can stay away from the comments section of the internet, but you know maybe interesting things that happened at a gathering with that.

There was one woman.

Who still hadn't gone on the record.

She's British she lives in California her name is roaming issue and she was Zelda Perkins

You know she was the alleged victim in that incident.

They had banded together after his older with this terrible story of predation by Weinstein resigned and they both had this settlement as it was done in turn down and Rowena had stayed quiet after we've broken the story even you know through the through all the firm in 2017 and 2018 she hasn't gone on the record, but she listen to Christine blasey Ford and the other women discuss in a very honestly what they've been through and I have a gathering Rowena decided to go on the record for the first time in this Park which is just a usually important symbol.

We think you know which shows that women are still coming for this isn't over that we don't know all of the stories and the last line of the book belongs to Rowena and she says I'm not just going to let this pass away.

TV and Jodi kantor authors of she said many thanks for your time and will be back at the same time next week.


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