Like heavyweights exchanging haymakers, two New York news outlets have taken turns over the past few days landing knockout blows against Harvey Weinstein, who just days earlier was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood.
The New York Times was the first to report last week about Weinstein’s alleged predations on actresses and underlings who worked on his movies and for his Hollywood production companies, Miramax and the Weinstein Co. But in a story published Tuesday and written by Ronan Farrow — himself the progeny of Hollywood royalty — the New Yorker magazine added significant detail to the Times’ initial report.
The 1-2-3 combination portrayed Weinstein unmistakably as a serial harasser and — at least in Farrow’s bombshell account — as an alleged rapist.
The revelations were the product of a journalistic footrace between Farrow and the Times’ reporters, led by investigative reporter Jodi Kantor. The two outlets became aware that they were chasing the same story weeks ago when they began interviewing some of the same people, including actress Rosanna Arquette.
“We knew they were working on something,” said Times Editor Dean Baquet on Tuesday. “And we were very competitive. . . . It did not cause us to rush through the reporting, but we certainly were determined to move quickly.”
New Yorker Editor David Remnick praised the Times’ work but suggested Farrow’s story wasn’t quite complete when the newspaper posted its first article last week. “I am not the least competitive person in the world,” he said, “but our stories are ready when they are ready, no matter what the competition does.”
The three stories report similar details and generally corroborate and complement each other. They describe encounters between Weinstein and young women that fit a pattern. Women quoted by both publications say they were lured to hotel rooms or other private places to discuss film work. They were then pressured for sexual favors by Weinstein with the implicit or overt promise of advancing their careers.
The stories also describe the ways in which Weinstein and his assistants kept the encounters quiet through intimidation, such as planting unfavorable stories about them in the news media, or via a series of cash payments for their silence.
The stories differ only in the degree of the alleged behavior, all of which Weinstein has denied. Farrow reports that Weinstein raped three women, including the actress-director Asia Argento and an aspiring actress named Lucia Evans.
Farrow’s story also adds an important corroborating element: a recording of Weinstein pressuring a model, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, to enter his hotel room. Gutierrez had earlier reported to New York police that Weinstein had sexually assaulted her in a business meeting; officials obtained the recording by outfitting Gutierrez with a hidden wire (Weinstein was never charged with a crime).
The Times’ stories were principally written and reported by Kantor, who shared a byline with Megan Twohey on the first story last Thursday, and with Rachel Abrams on Tuesday.
Farrow had been working on the story for NBC News for months and had made contact with some of Weinstein’s accusers. But his NBC bosses balked at airing the story. There is dispute over why, though an NBC employee familiar with the matter said Farrow lacked sufficient reporting to get such a powerful story on the air.
In any case, a frustrated Farrow negotiated the release of the story from NBC’s control in August. He subsequently brought it to the New Yorker. (Farrow did not respond to requests for comment.)
To an extent, the competition to break the story may have been good for both publications. With several reporters pursuing long-standing rumors about Weinstein, sources who had been reluctant to talk might have been emboldened to come forward.
The Times’ initial story on Thursday, and the widespread condemnation of Weinstein that immediately followed, appeared to set the stage for Paltrow, Jolie and Mira Sorvino to discuss their experiences with Weinstein in the New Yorker and the Times follow-up article. Said Baquet, “I’m a firm believer in competition. It is healthy. It makes us all better.”
Farrow, 29, is the son of actress Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, although his paternity is disputed. Mia Farrow suggested in 2013 that Ronan’s father might be Frank Sinatra, to whom Farrow was married before she began her relationship with Allen.
One of the women Ronan Farrow interviewed for his New Yorker article was Sorvino, who won an Oscar for her performance in “Mighty Aphrodite,” a Weinstein-produced film that was directed by Allen. Allen’s role and Farrow’s family connection wasn’t mentioned in the article, however.
Farrow’s MSNBC program lasted only about 13 months, from early 2014 to 2015. However, he continues to report for NBC; in May, he was the lead reporter on an investigation into leaks at nuclear waste storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.