Cover image for She said : breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement
Title:
She said : breaking the sexual harassment story that helped ignite a movement
ISBN:
9780525560340
Physical Description:
310 pages ; 25 cm.
Contents:
The first phone call -- Hollywood secrets -- How to silence a victim -- "Positive reputation management" -- A company's complicity -- "Who else is on the record?" -- "There will be a movement" -- The beachside dilemma -- "I can't guarantee I'll go to DC" -- Epilogue: The gathering.
Corporate Subject:
Added Author:
Summary:
For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times, his name was still synonymous with power. During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed. These shadowy settlements had long been used to hide sexual harassment and abuse, but with a breakthrough reporting technique Kantor and Twohey helped to expose it. But Weinstein had evaded scrutiny in the past, and he was not going down without a fight. He employed a team of high-profile lawyers, private investigators, and other allies to thwart the investigation. When Kantor and Twohey were finally able to convince some sources to go on the record, a dramatic final showdown between Weinstein and the New York Times was set in motion. Nothing could have prepared Kantor and Twohey for what followed the publication of their initial Weinstein story on October 5, 2017. Within days, a veritable Pandora's box of sexual harassment and abuse was opened. Women all over the world came forward with their own traumatic stories. Over the next twelve months, hundreds of men from every walk of life and industry were outed following allegations of wrongdoing. But did too much change -- or not enough? Those questions hung in the air months later as Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, and Christine Blasey Ford came forward to testify that he had assaulted her decades earlier. Kantor and Twohey, who had unique access to Ford and her team, bring to light the odyssey that led her to come forward, the overwhelming forces that came to bear on her, and what happened after she shared her allegation with the world.
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Summary

Summary

The instant New York Times bestseller.

"An instant classic of investigative journalism...'All the President's Men' for the Me Too era." -- Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times , Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the thrilling untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement

For many years, reporters had tried to get to the truth about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women. Rumors of wrongdoing had long circulated. But in 2017, when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey began their investigation into the prominent Hollywood producer for the New York Times , his name was still synonymous with power. During months of confidential interviews with top actresses, former Weinstein employees, and other sources, many disturbing and long-buried allegations were unearthed, and a web of onerous secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements was revealed. These shadowy settlements had long been used to hide sexual harassment and abuse, but with a breakthrough reporting technique Kantor and Twohey helped to expose it. But Weinstein had evaded scrutiny in the past, and he was not going down without a fight; he employed a team of high-profile lawyers, private investigators, and other allies to thwart the investigation. When Kantor and Twohey were finally able to convince some sources to go on the record, a dramatic final showdown between Weinstein and the New York Times was set in motion.

Nothing could have prepared Kantor and Twohey for what followed the publication of their initial Weinstein story on October 5, 2017. Within days, a veritable Pandora's box of sexual harassment and abuse was opened. Women all over the world came forward with their own traumatic stories. Over the next twelve months, hundreds of men from every walk of life and industry were outed following allegations of wrongdoing. But did too much change--or not enough? Those questions hung in the air months later as Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, and Christine Blasey Ford came forward to testify that he had assaulted her decades earlier. Kantor and Twohey, who had unique access to Ford and her team, bring to light the odyssey that led her to come forward, the overwhelming forces that came to bear on her, and what happened after she shared her allegation with the world.

In the tradition of great investigative journalism, She Said tells a thrilling story about the power of truth, with shocking new information from hidden sources. Kantor and Twohey describe not only the consequences of their reporting for the #MeToo movement, but the inspiring and affecting journeys of the women who spoke up--for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves.


Author Notes

Jodi Kantor, a New York Times correspondent, is the author of The Obama's. She has been covering the Obama's since 2007.

Jodi began her journalism career at Slate.com in 1998. She later she became the Arts & Leisure editor of the New York Times.

Kantor is a recipient of a Columbia Young Alumni Achievement Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The dogged investigative journalism that brought down Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is spotlighted in this gripping memoir. New York Times reporters Kantor (The Obamas) and Twohey recount their months-long probe, which uncovered claims that Weinstein sexually assaulted or harassed many women, from actors Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow to employees at his company; the Times exposé led to formal rape charges and sparked the #MeToo movement. (Later chapters profile Christine Blasey Ford, the psychologist who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault.) The authors deliver the sordid details--the seemingly innocent hotel-room meetings, the sudden demands for naked massages, and worse--but focus on the reporting: stakeouts of sources, document searches, assignations with an informant, fencing matches as they wormed information out of Weinstein's flunkies, and the bullying they received from Weinstein himself, a larger-than-life figure of bluster, menace, and self-pity. Along the way, they grapple with the apparatus of secrecy protecting Weinstein--the colleagues and lawyers who covered up abuses, the confidential settlements that legally silenced some accusers, and the fear of industry retaliation that kept others from speaking out. The result is a crackerjack journalistic thriller that becomes a revealing study of the culture that enables sexual misconduct. (Sept.)


Guardian Review

All about power, the reporters who broke the Weinstein story give the full account of who talked, and how #MeToo began. Three events define the #MeToo era. The first was the release, in October 2016, of the #Pussygate tape, on which presidential candidate Donald Trump was recorded boasting about his seduction technique: "When you're a star, they let you do it." A year later, the New York Times published a story about the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's decades of sexual aggression against both A-list actors and junior employees. (He lost his job, but still denies many of the allegations.) In the autumn of 2018, an academic called Christine Blasey Ford testified to a Congressional committee - and the world's media - that the Republican supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a drunken college party, in front of a male friend. "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter," she said. Kavanaugh sobbed openly, lied about small details, and denied the accusation. His nomination was confirmed. The #MeToo movement has a mixed record, and Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who broke the Weinstein story, embrace that complexity in She Said. Painstakingly researched, their account is less interested in Weinstein the Monster than the structures that enabled him to flourish. The story starts with actor Rose McGowan refusing to talk to Kantor. She had publicly alleged that she was raped by a Hollywood producer, but refused to name him. "Here's the thing, I have been treated quite shabbily by your paper at times and I believe the root of it is sexism," McGowan wrote in an email. The reporters persisted: the first and best section of this book is an All The President's Men-style thriller, describing the lead-up to publication. It is a hymn to old-fashioned investigative reporting. Kantor and Twohey trawl through complex document trails, trying to find old non-disclosure agreements. They chase down tips and, more than anything, form relationships with sources, texting them dozens of times a day to coax them on to the record. The women at the other end of the phone are nervous, and are right to be. It is discovered later that Weinstein was using a security firm, Black Cube, to try to halt the publication of the story. Two agents from Black Cube, using false identities, met McGowan to pump her for information. One of the same agents posed as a Weinstein victim to meet and spy on the reporters. Everywhere Kantor and Twohey go, women don't want to speak to them. Their reluctance is not just born of intimidation, but the threat of financial ruin. The journalists gradually realise that Weinstein's harassment has been covered up through pay-offs, accompanied by gagging clauses. The terms are often absurdly strict, preventing accusers from speaking not just to the media about the allegations, but to their spouses and family. Crucially, the NDAs also prevent accusers from hearing other stories. As Kantor and Twohey finally get through to sources, they hear the same details again and again. The bathrobes. The massages. The pot plant. This unique texture is what makes the Weinstein story ring true: how could so many people invent such similar lies? The bravest women are not the big names. Of the dozens of actors who later spoke out, only Ashley Judd went on the record in the initial story, when it was truly dangerous to go public. Gwyneth Paltrow helped the reporters behind the scenes, but held back because of her close association with Weinstein - he produced Shakespeare in Love, for which she won the best actress Oscar. She was also afraid of bad publicity because she had recently received a roasting over her wellness website, Goop, which sold $66 jade eggs to put in your vagina. (Kantor and Twohey are too professional to diss their sources, but you detect a note of frustration that the exposure of a serial predator was nearly derailed by Paltrow's side-hustle.) The real heroes are women such as Zelda Perkins, a former Miramax assistant who was harassed by Weinstein in 1998. When Perkins learned another woman in the company, Rowena Chiu, had suffered a similar experience, she confronted the producer. He appeared "docile" but his lawyers were ferocious. There was no physical evidence, and so both women were talked into agreeing to a £125,000 settlement. Perkins was not even allowed to keep a copy of the document: she had to see it at her lawyer's office. Another Miramax employee, Laura Madden, had a typical story - hotel, bathrobe, masturbation. When the reporters tracked her down, she was a single mother to four children, about to undergo a second mastectomy. She never signed an NDA. She left the film industry. She went on the record straight away. By definition, everyone with power in modern Hollywood has succeeded within the current toxic, compromising system. No wonder so few wanted to speak out. Some of them must have taken Weinstein's bathrobe bargain. Others said no and kept quiet about it. Others passed on a warning - don't be alone with him - and considered their job done. Sometimes, acquiescence shades into outright villainy. At one point, the Weinstein Company proposes a system of fines to be levied on Harvey every time he has to settle a harassment case. In effect, they are trying to bribe him out of assaulting women. His brother Bob is a key source for Kantor and Twohey, but his late repentance can't erase his years of complicity. Ditto Irwin Reiter, his accountant - who hands over an internal memo written by a junior female employee accusing Weinstein of harassment. Special mention must be reserved for attorney Lisa Bloom, a longtime advocate for victims' rights, who appears to have sold her soul for $895 an hour and the promise of a movie deal. In a memo printed here in full, she tells Weinstein, "I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them." She recommends paying a company to trash McGowan's Google results, discrediting her as a witness. (Bloom now calls her actions a "colossal mistake".) The second section of the book, describing the Kavanaugh hearings, is shorter and less satisfying, because the reporters were less involved. Nonetheless, it vividly depicts the shortcomings of a system that has no way to treat Blasey Ford's accusations except as a partisan intervention. She needs lawyers, and advisers, to go up against the might of Washington. The Democrats can give them to her. Yet instantly the case becomes less about the truth and more about political point-scoring. Blasey Ford emerges, as she did at the hearings, as deeply impressive, polished and precise. But her story happened long ago, and believing it depends on taking her word over Kavanaugh's. The saga exposes the brutal binary of such allegations: winner takes all. He wins. Pussygate. Weinstein. The Kavanaugh hearings. All three incidents pose the same question: what does it take for victims of sexual assault and harassment to be believed? On the evidence of She Said, the answer is a bleak one. It brought back David Simon's description of juries. "The average juror doesn't want to spend time contemplating the inconsistencies in a defendant's statement, or the complex web of testimony that systematically destroys an alibi," he wrote in his account of the Baltimore criminal justice system, Homicide. "The average juror wants three upstanding citizens to say that they were eyeball witnesses to the crime and another two who can assure them of the killer's motivation." The #MeToo story is about power. Early on, the writers note that by the time their investigation started, Weinstein's career was already on the slide: he was not knocking out hits as in the early 2000s. This is the missing piece of the puzzle when we try to reconcile his downfall with Trump's survival. Rich men accused of being sex pests are like banks: they are mostly too big to fail. But when enough investors finally get nervous, the "sell" sign suddenly flicks on. There is an unedifying stampede for the door. You now can't find anyone in the film industry with a good word to say about Weinstein. He is the Lehman Brothers of groping. The final section of the book is oddly dissonant. Kantor and Twohey gather a dozen of their sources to share stories and compare the effect on their lives. Paltrow volunteers her home in California, strewn with cushions. The women are bruised, but mostly relieved, to have been heard. Some are struggling financially; one, who spoke about harassment in McDonalds, had recently been made homeless. Paltrow, meanwhile, is troubled by her unwitting complicity in Weinstein's strategy. She denies having acquiesced to his harassment, but she was the example he used when offering his squalid bargain: don't you want what she's got? The ambiguity of her story defines this book.


Kirkus Review

A behind-the-scenes look at the Harvey Weinstein case as told by the two New York Times journalists who broke the story.When Kantor (The Obamas, 2012) and Twohey published their 2017 article series implicating Weinstein in a 30-year-long sexual misconduct scandal, it garnered worldwide attention, earned the news outlet the Pulitzer Prize, and briskly vaporized the Hollywood film producer's career and reputation. In vivid, cinematic fashion, the authors describe the risky investigation from its first probing telephone calls and emails to the challenges of obtaining recorded interviews. Despite episodes of self-doubt, an avalanche of testimonials from victimized women started pouring in. Kantor and Twohey focus on the details of how they doggedly procured sources, chased leads, and obtained enough concrete evidence to blow the case open. As the attestations began to accumulate, so did the trouble, including calculated interference and intimidation from a supposed Weinstein-hired Israeli intelligence organization, which attempted to sabotage the entire endeavor. The authors also examine the nature of wealth and power and how the corruption of privilege infected Weinstein, Miramax, and his expansive web of malefactors, which included employees, publicists, and the corporate machines aligned alongside him who overlooked his reprehensive behavior and supervised his confidential settlements to the women he abused. The authors chronicle the early testimonies from Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd as well as an initially reluctant Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of raping her and labeled his notorious behavior "an open secret in Hollywood/Media." The journalists' work helped ignite the burgeoning #MeToo movement and inspired a massive cultural sea change, but they also acknowledge the grueling work ahead, as evidenced in the book's concluding chapters featuring Christine Blasey Ford, who shares her personal insights on the steamrolled Supreme Court appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. Both admirable and suspenseful, the narrative is a fitting testament to the power of persistence and dedication in exposing critical crimes.Keenly executed, exemplary spadework dedicated to justice for all women caught in the crosshairs of privileged power. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Preface In 2017, when we began our investigation of Harvey Weinstein for the New York Times , women held more power than ever before. The number of jobs once held almost exclusively by men--police officer, soldier, airline pilot--had narrowed almost to a vanishing point. Women led nations including Germany and the United Kingdom, and companies such as General Motors and PepsiCo. In one year of work, it was possible for a thirtysomething-year-old woman to make more money than all of her female ancestors had made in their combined lifetimes. But all too often, women were sexually harassed with impunity. Female scientists and waitresses, cheerleaders, executives, and factory workers had to smile past gropes, leers, or unwelcome advances to get the next tip, paycheck, or raise. Sexual harassment was against the law--but it was also routine in some jobs. Women who spoke up were frequently dismissed or denigrated. Victims were often hidden and isolated from one another. Their best option, many people agreed, was to accept money as some form of reparation, in exchange for silence. The perpetrators, meanwhile, frequently sailed to ever-higher levels of success and praise. Harassers were often accepted, or even cheered, as mis- chievous bad boys. Serious consequences were rare. Megan wrote some of the original articles in which women alleged that Donald J. Trump preyed on them--and then she covered his triumph in the 2016 election. After we broke the story of Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment and abuse on October 5, 2017, we watched with astonishment as a dam wall broke. Millions of women around the world told their own stories of mistreatment. Large numbers of men suddenly had to answer for their predatory behavior, a moment of accountability without precedent. Journalism had helped inspire a paradigm shift. Our work was only one driver of that change, which had been building for years, thanks to the efforts of pio- neering feminists and legal scholars; Anita Hill; Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the # MeToo movement; and many others, including our fellow journalists. But seeing our own hard-won investigative discoveries help realign attitudes left us asking, Why this story? As one of our editors pointed out, Harvey Weinstein wasn't even that famous. In a world in which so much feels stuck, how does this sort of seismic social change occur? We embarked on this book to answer those questions. Nothing about the change was inevitable or foretold. In these pages, we describe the motivations and wrenching, risky decisions of the first brave sources to break the silence surrounding Weinstein. Laura Madden, a former assistant to Weinstein and a stay-at-home mother in Wales, spoke out just as she was reeling from divorce and about to undergo post-cancer breast surgery. Ashley Judd put her career on the line, spurred by a little-known period in her life when she stepped away from Hollywood to immerse herself in big-picture thinking about gender equality. Zelda Perkins, a London producer whose complaints against Weinstein had been sup- pressed by an agreement she had signed two decades before, spoke to us despite potential legal and financial retribution. A longtime Weinstein employee, increasingly troubled by what he knew, played a key, and previ- ously undisclosed, role in helping us to finally unmask his boss. We intend the title, She Said , as a complicated one: We write about those who did speak out, along with other women who chose not to, and the nuances of how and when and why. This is also a story about investigative journalism, beginning with the first uncertain days of our reporting, when we knew very little and almost no one would speak to us. We describe how we coaxed out secrets, pinned down information, and pursued the truth about a powerful man even as he used underhanded tactics to try to sabotage our work. We have also, for the first time, reconstructed our final showdown with the producer--his last stand--in the offices of the New York Times right before publication, as he realized he was cornered. Our Weinstein reporting took place at a time of accusations of "fake news," as the very notion of a national consensus on truth seemed to be fracturing. But the impact of the Weinstein revelations was so great in part because we and other journalists were able to establish a clear and over- whelming body of evidence of wrongdoing. In these pages, we explain how we have documented a pattern of behavior based on first-person accounts, financial and legal records, company memos, and other revealing materi- als. In the wake of our work, there was little public debate about what Weinstein had done to women; it was about what should be done in response. But Weinstein has continued to deny all allegations of non- consensual sex, and has repeatedly asserted that our reporting is incorrect. "What you have here are allegations and accusations, but you do not have absolute facts," a spokesman said when we asked for a response to the rev- elations presented here. This book toggles between what we learned during the course of our original work on Weinstein in 2017 and the substantial amount of information we've gathered since. Much of the new reporting we present about Weinstein helps illustrate how the legal system and corporate culture has served to silence victims and still inhibits change. Businesses are co-opted into protecting predators. Some advocates for women profit from a settle- ment system that covers up misdeeds. Many people who glimpse the problem--like Bob Weinstein, Harvey's brother and business partner, who granted extensive interviews for this book--do little to try and stop it. As we write this, in May 2019, Weinstein awaits a criminal trial for al- leged rape and other sexual abuse and faces a volley of civil suits, in which actresses, former employees, and others are seeking to hold him financially accountable. No matter the outcome of those cases, we hope this book will serve as a lasting record of Weinstein's legacy: his exploitation of the work- place to manipulate, pressure, and terrorize women. In the months after we broke the Weinstein story, as the #MeToo movement exploded, so did new debates about topics ranging from date rape to child sexual abuse to gender discrimination and even to awkward encoun- ters at parties. This made the public conversation feel rich and searching, but also confusing: Were the goals to eliminate sexual harassment, reform the criminal justice system, smash the patriarchy, or flirt without giving offense? Had the reckoning gone too far, with innocent men tarnished with less-than-convincing proof, or not far enough, with a frustrating lack of systemic change? Nearly a year to the day after our Weinstein story was published, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor from California, appeared before a U.S. Senate committee and accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh, then nominated to the Supreme Court, of sexually assaulting her while drunk in high school. He furiously denied the allegation. Some saw Ford as the ultimate hero of the #MeToo movement. Others saw her as a symbol of overreach--a living justification for the mounting backlash. We saw her as the protagonist of one of the most complex and revealing "she said" stories yet, especially once we began to learn how much about her path to that Senate testimony was not publicly understood. Jodi watched from the hearing room, observed some of her legal team as they worked, and met her the next morning. In December, Megan conducted the first post-hearing interview of Ford, over a breakfast in Palo Alto. In the following months, she had dozens of hours of additional interviews with Ford about how she came to raise her voice and what the consequences were. We also spoke with others who shaped and witnessed her experience. We tell the story of Ford's journey to Washington and how an overwhelming array of viewpoints, institutions, political forces, and fears all came to bear on her. Many people wonder how Ford has fared since her testimony. The final chapter of this book consists of a unique group interview, in which we brought together some of the women we reported on, including Ford, across these different stories. But something larger is at stake in Ford's odyssey too: that continued question of what drives and impedes progress. The #MeToo movement is an example of social change in our time but is also a test of it: In this fractured environment, will all of us be able to forge a new set of mutually fair rules and protections? This book recounts two astounding years in the life of women in the United States and beyond. That history belongs to all of us who lived it: Unlike some journalistic investigations that deal with locked-away government or corporate secrets, this one is about experiences many of us recognize from our own lives, workplaces, families, and schools. But we wrote this book to bring you as close as we could to ground zero. To relate those events as directly and authentically as possible, we have incorporated transcripts of interviews, emails, and other primary docu- ments. There are notes from the first conversations we had with movie stars about Weinstein, a searching letter that Bob Weinstein wrote to his brother, excerpts from Ford's texts, and many other firsthand materials. Some of what we share was originally off the record, but through additional reporting, including returning to the parties involved, we were able to include it here. We were able to depict conversations and events that we did not witness firsthand through records and interviews. All told, this book is based on three years of reporting and hundreds of interviews conducted from London to Palo Alto; the endnotes give a detailed accounting of which information we learned from which sources and records. Finally, this book is a chronicle of the partnership we developed as we worked to understand these events. To avoid confusion, we write about ourselves in the third person. (In a first-person account of our reporting, which was collaborative but often involved us following separate threads, "I" could be either Jodi or Megan.) So before we slip into that way of telling the story, we want to say, in our own voices: Thank you for joining our partnership for the duration of these pages, for puzzling through these events and clues as we have, for witnessing what we witnessed, and hearing what we heard. Excerpted from She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.