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Widespread allegations suggest Weinstein was long protected by ‘culture of complicity’

October 10, 2017 at 6:30 PM EDT
Allegations of sexual harassment and assault by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein continue to emerge as actors like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have come forward to share their experiences, On Tuesday, The New Yorker reported new allegations of rape, which Weinstein has denied. Judy Woodruff talks to Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker to learn more about the revelations.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There are growing allegations of sexual harassment, and now outright assault, by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The New York Times, which broke the original story, followed up with more allegations of harassment, including from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

Paltrow said that she was petrified and refused his advances as a 22-year-old when Weinstein allegedly put his hands on her and suggested they go to the bedroom for massages.

The New Yorker magazine went even further. It published a long report that included allegations by three women, including actress Asia Argento, who say that Weinstein raped them. The report also included numerous allegations of harassment of other women, including actress Rosanna Arquette.

Weinstein’s spokeswoman said he — quote — “unequivocally denied any allegations of non-consensual sex or acts of retaliation against woman refusing his advances.”

Journalist Ronan Farrow wrote the New Yorker article. And he joins me now.

Ronan Farrow, thank you for joining us.

First of all, just quickly, how did you come to this story, and how long did you spend reporting it?

RONAN FARROW, The New Yorker: The story was assigned to me. And it’s been about 10 months.

I mean, look, multiple news organizations over 20 years, Judy, have really circled this, and there hasn’t been reporting that has met the right evidentiary standard until very recently. But, in the last few years, I think there has been a cultural shift around this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we said a moment ago, you have information that builds on what The New York Times reported.

You talked to at least 13 women, three of whom said that Harvey Weinstein forced himself on them, forced himself — them to have sex with him. How would you sum up what you learned about him?

RONAN FARROW: Look, this is clearly an incredibly widespread set of allegations. We’re talking about 13 women in this “New Yorker” story that we ran today. These are clearly incredibly serious allegations, Judy. We’re talking about three allegations of rape.

In addition to the discussion of what these women went through, there’s an incredible uprising of people within his companies talking for the first time in decades about what they said was a culture of complicity, about a pattern of meetings that they said were thin cover for predatory advances on young women.

This is a tipping point where a lot is being exposed right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, The New Yorker made available an audiotape recording of an exchange that Weinstein had with this Italian woman I mentioned, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, who, after he groped her, she contacted the New York Police Department.

And then, the next day, when — she agreed to wear the microphone when she saw him.

We are going to play that right now, part of that.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ, Model: I’m feeling very uncomfortable right now.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN, Co-Founder, The Weinstein Company: Please come in. And one minute. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket, you can go.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Oh, please. I’m sorry. Just come on in. I’m used to that.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: You’re used to that?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Yes, come in.

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, but I’m not used to that.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: I won’t do it again. Come on, sit here. Sit here for a minute, please?

AMBRA BATTILANA GUTIERREZ: No, I don’t want to.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: If you do this now you will (INAUDIBLE). Now go. Bye. Never call me again. OK? I’m sorry, nice to have — I promise you I won’t do anything.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Ronan Farrow, Harvey Weinstein was never prosecuted. The New York police didn’t act on this. There were some complications around Ms. Gutierrez.

But that was an important moment, wasn’t it?

RONAN FARROW: It was a critical moment, and reveals a lot.

I mean, first of all, we include in full in this story the decision by the DA’s office not to pursue charges. But we also spoke to a lot of sources close to this investigation. And we quote one officer on the police force involved in this operation saying how angry she was, saying that they had the evidence.

But — so, look, this reveals a lot about the system around allegations like this, too.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, what Harvey Weinstein’s office is saying is that he denies having any non-consensual relations with any of these women.

RONAN FARROW: And, of course, we include his statement in full.

And, you know, this is “The New Yorker.” He had a very full and fair opportunity to respond and engage with us on this.

He is saying that there was no non-consensual sex. He’s saying that he never retaliated against women. And, in this group of women, with allegations, again and again, they say otherwise.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of what Harvey Weinstein is accused of was enabled by people who worked around him or by agents who worked in Hollywood, worked in the industry?

RONAN FARROW: You know, Judy, again and again, I heard from a group of 16 former employees in his companies that they felt guilty, that they felt a sense that they needed to speak out earlier and they had been too afraid for many years.

And they did a very brave thing speaking in this story. And one after another, they described exactly what you refer to, a culture of complicity, and ways in which they were asked to, they felt, aid and abet some of this predation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which, I think, plays into right the next question I have, which is, how did he get away with this, if he did? Again, it’s allegations, but the evidence is pretty damning.

How did he get away with this for so long?

RONAN FARROW: You know, the thing that you run into reporting on this story — and I have been very immersed in it over the last year — is, there is a vast machine set up to silence these women.

We’re talking about legal settlements where women were paid to sign very restrictive nondisclosure agreements. We’re talking about a public relations team that plants negative items about women.

These are all allegations that were made to us by women in this story. And, obviously, these are allegations that have checked out to a very great extent, or you wouldn’t be reading about them in “The New Yorker” right now.

So, what these women have done, in confronting that machine, is incredibly important. And I can tell you, from having had these conversations with them, very brave. These were all women who were very, very afraid to speak.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this, finally, a story about Harvey Weinstein and the people around him, or is it a story broadly about Hollywood and the way the movie industry works?

RONAN FARROW: I think it’s bigger than either of those stories, Judy.

I think this is a story about the abuse of power. It’s a phenomenon we see across multiple industries. It’s a story about the difficulty of speaking out about the topic of sexual harassment and assault.

You know, these women talked at length about their struggle over many years with the decision over whether to speak, you know, women with these restrictive nondisclosure agreement, women’s whose careers were on the line, women who really feared for their personal safety.

They made a very tough call here. And that reveals what every survivor everywhere is up against when they decide whether to speak about this. So, you know, I think what you’re seeing now in terms of the public support for these women is indicative of something of a turning point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your expectation that still other women are going to come out? And is there any sort of consensus about what’s going to happen to Harvey Weinstein and to other men or women who may be doing something like what he did?

RONAN FARROW: Look, Judy, I don’t want to comment on pieces of reporting that didn’t make it into our final text. Our story speaks for itself and is very, very extensive.

Obviously, when you work on a story for 10 months of this size, there is a lot of other sourcing out there, but it’s probably best to not get into that for now.

In terms of the future, look, we have seen how this has unfolded in multiple other cases, and it’s going to be very much in the hands of these women how they want to proceed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ronan Farrow, the author of this disturbing piece in “The New Yorker” magazine, thank you very much.

RONAN FARROW: Thank you so much, Judy.

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