Two years before the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein became public, his own brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, confronted him, pleading with him to get medical treatment for what he described as many years of "misbehaviour."
"You have brought shame to the family and your company through your misbehaviour," Bob Weinstein wrote. "Your reaction was once more to blame the victims, or to minimise the misbehaviour in various ways. If you think nothing is wrong with your misbehaviour so in this area then announce it to your wife and family."
The previously unreported letter is reprinted in full in She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, a new book by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, two reporters at The New York Times who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein's alleged misdeeds, helping to spark the global #MeToo reckoning. The book, to be published Tuesday in the US by Penguin Press, sheds new light on the roles that several figures played in enabling Weinstein and covering up his misdeeds, and names key sources who helped reporters break the story — including company officials, Hollywood stars and other victims of the producer's alleged abuse.
Drawing on new reporting and previously undisclosed corporate records, emails and text messages, She Said uncovers more on the extent of Weinstein's alleged transgressions, and the labyrinth of secret settlements and restrictive nondisclosure agreements that allowed Weinstein and other men in positions of power to conceal their behavior and thrive in their careers, in some cases finding new victims.
Weinstein, who is facing a criminal trial on charges of sexual assault and rape, has denied ever having had non consensual sex and pleaded not guilty.
One of the central figures of She Said is a former top executive at the Weinstein Co.: Irwin Reiter. Reiter, an accountant who worked for Weinstein for decades, was increasingly alarmed by his behavior toward women and had raised concerns within the company, to no avail. The book discloses that it was Reiter who provided the reporters with an explosive internal memo from an employee who described Weinstein's routine harassment of junior female employees and actresses. Reiter also alerted Kantor and Twohey, who were investigating financial settlements for sexual harassment from decades ago, to other recent accusations against Weinstein, bringing new urgency to the investigation.
She Said similarly discloses the identity of a Weinstein accuser who has put off inquiries from journalists for 15 years, Rowena Chiu, a former assistant at Miramax who received a settlement in 1998 after Weinstein allegedly assaulted her in a hotel room. In Chiu's account, which she shares in detail for the first time, she describes being silenced by a restrictive nondisclosure agreement and lured back to a job at Miramax in an apparent effort by Weinstein to keep her close. She struggled with depression and attempted suicide. She stayed silent for nearly 20 years, even declining to tell her husband about the predation or the settlement. (Weinstein has disputed her story.)
In his first extensive comments since the Weinstein story broke, Bob Weinstein explains that he mistakenly saw his brother's problem as sex addiction, a rationale rooted in his own previously unreported recovery from substance abuse, and how he abandoned his attempts to intervene. "I got worn out," he told the journalists. "I said, 'I surrender,' see?"
She Said, one of several forthcoming books about Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, is also an exploration of investigative journalism and how The Times executed a sensitive investigation. The book chronicles how the reporting came together behind the scenes, with accounts of the journalists' first calls to actresses who they suspected had stories about Weinstein, and their efforts to identify recipients of confidential settlements. Gwyneth Paltrow, one of Weinstein's biggest stars over the years, was scared to go on the record but became an early, crucial source, sharing her account of sexual harassment and trying to recruit other actresses to speak.
She Said shows how some figures who have presented themselves as allies of victims have profited from financial settlements that silence them.
Attorney Gloria Allred is one of the most vocal crusaders against sexual harassment and assault. Privately, her firm helped negotiate a settlement that muffled one of Weinstein's victims in 2004, taking a 40 per cent cut. (The firm has also worked on settlements that silenced victims of Larry Nassar and Bill O'Reilly.) In an interview for She Said, Allred defends her use of confidential settlements, arguing that clients are not forced to sign them and often prefer them for reasons of privacy.
Allred's daughter, lawyer Lisa Bloom, a prominent victims' rights attorney, was working behind the scenes with Weinstein — at a rate of US$895 ($1,400) an hour — to quash the journalists' investigation and thwart his accusers. In a confidential memo to Weinstein that Bloom wrote in December 2016, which is reproduced in She Said, she offered to help him damage the reputation of one of his accusers, Rose McGowan, and portrayed her background as a victims' rights advocate as an asset.
"I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them," Bloom wrote, before laying out a multistep playbook for how to intimidate accusers or paint them as liars. One of Bloom's suggested tactics for undermining McGowan: "We can place an article re her becoming increasingly unglued, so that when someone Googles her this is what pops up and she's discredited."
Bloom accompanied Weinstein on a surprise visit to the Times the day before the initial article was published, to present the journalists with information intended to portray several accusers — including Ashley Judd, the first actress to go on the record — as unreliable and mentally unstable.
Bloom has said she was crossing sides to work for Weinstein to encourage him to apologise for his behavior. She later told the reporters that she "deeply regretted" representing him, which she said was a "colossal mistake."
Another member of Weinstein's legal team, attorney David Boies, helped Weinstein evade scrutiny for his treatment of women over 15 years, working to halt reporting on the producer by news outlets, blocking the board of Weinstein's company from reviewing his personnel file, and helping Weinstein execute a contract with Black Cube, an Israeli private investigations firm, that was promised a US$300,000 ($467,000) bonus if it stopped the Times investigation. (Ronan Farrow, who published a separate Weinstein exposé in The New Yorker in October 2017, later broke the news of Black Cube's work for Weinstein.) She Said reveals emails showing that during the time that Boies represented Weinstein, the two men discussed potential film roles for Boies' daughter, an aspiring actress.
In an interview for the book, Boies said he was unaware of the underhanded tactics that Black Cube used against journalists and regretted not paying closer attention to that firm's work. But he defended the assistance he provided to Weinstein as the producer sought to conceal allegations and said he didn't have "any regret that I represented him the way I did."
She Said is among the first in a wave of new books about Weinstein and other powerful men accused of sexual misconduct. Earlier this year, Penguin Press acquired another Weinstein book by the New Yorker writer Ken Auletta. Little, Brown and Co. plans to release Farrow's book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, an account of his own investigation into Weinstein, scheduled for publication in October.
Other recent and forthcoming books that grew out of the #MeToo movement and its aftermath include journalist Abigail Pesta's account of serial sexual abuse of young gymnasts by Larry Nassar; a book by the Times reporters Rachel Abrams and James B. Stewart about former CBS chief executive Les Moonves, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women; and a book by Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown about the serial sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein. There are also new books that grew out of reporting about Christine Blasey Ford's accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, including the forthcoming The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly.
Ford receives attention in She Said, providing for the first time an extensive account of her experience as an ambivalent figure at the center of a polarising national scandal. She told her lawyers she did not want to testify — even as they spoke publicly about her willingness to do so in order to keep her options open.
Ford's story is often held up as a cautionary tale about the limitations of the #MeToo movement in a politically divided nation, and the cost for victims whose stories are often met with disbelief, scorn and threats. But "She Said" shows how Ford has motivated other women to open up about sexual assault.
Kantor and Twohey write about a group interview they conducted that included Ford and women who had made accusations against President Donald Trump and Weinstein, including Judd, Paltrow and Chiu, the former Miramax employee. As the women spoke, Chiu felt inspired by Ford and soon afterward, decided she would go on the record for the first time.
Written by: Alexandra Alter
Photographs by: Jeenah Moon
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES