“She Said,” from New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, recounts their investigation of Harvey Weinstein, which brought down the legendary producer and kick-started the #MeToo movement. Though the story is well known, the book adds fresh details about various people who helped their reporting — and about those who got in the way.
A list of people who will see their reputations harmed or enhanced by the book, released Tuesday:
The victim’s rights attorney wrote a memo to Weinstein in which she laid out options for squelching Rose McGowan’s allegations. “Clearly she must be stopped in her ridiculous, defamatory attacks on you,” Bloom wrote. “She is dangerous.” The options included placing articles to make her look “unglued,” while going on a PR offensive to cast Weinstein as a force for progress. She even proposed establishing the “Weinstein Standards,” “which seek to have one-third of films directed by women, or written by women, or passing the Bechdel test… whatever.” Bloom also collaborated with a Black Cube agent who was gathering dirt on McGowan, and worked on compiling dossiers on other accusers and on reporters who were looking into the allegations, according to the book. Bloom re-posted her apology for a “colossal mistake,” while McGowan called for her disbarment.
Paltrow gave behind-the-scenes assistance to the two reporters starting in late June 2017. The onetime First Lady of Miramax met with the reporters in August, and reached out to her circle of famous friends. Paltrow was worried about fallout for Goop, her wellness company, and ultimately did not tell her own Weinstein account in the initial Times story. But Paltrow’s support seems to have given the project momentum at a time when many other actresses were not returning the reporters’ calls. Paltrow’s role is the only passage of the book that irked Weinstein enough to respond. He put out a statement alleging that her version of their hotel-room encounter — in which she said felt her career was at risk for refusing his advances — is “just gratuitous; full of Goop.”
The charming litigator let himself off the hook for his role in the Weinstein affair, telling the authors that he has no regrets about how he handled the situation. Readers may be less generous. Boies is seen cleaning up three key incidents that posed a threat to Weinstein — the Ambra Battilana Gutierrez groping allegation, the Lauren O’Connor memo about Weinstein’s alleged misconduct, and the Zelda Perkins settlement. In the latter case, Boies was involved in talking the New Yorker out of publishing a story that could have exposed Weinstein’s conduct in 2002. Boies helped Weinstein wriggle out of trouble with his own board after the Gutierrez incident in 2015. Boies also hired Black Cube, the Israeli private investigative firm tasked with shutting down the Times’ story, all while his firm was working for the Times on unrelated matters. The authors state that Weinstein kept Boies close in part by helping out his daughter’s acting career. Asked if that might have been a factor in his decision to help Weinstein cover up his misconduct, Boies told the authors, “Well, it could, you know?”
Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham
Though the reporters were initially wary of reaching out to Dunham, fearing she might not be discreet, she and her “Girls” producing partner ended up providing key early assistance. Acting as a “two-woman celebrity switchboard,” they helped the reporters — who had no background in Hollywood — with names and contact information of potential sources. Their work led the reporters to get in touch with Paltrow.
Though she doesn’t fare as badly as her daughter Lisa Bloom, Allred comes in for criticism for reaching secret settlements that muzzled accusers, including one with Weinstein. In that case, Allred’s firm took a 40% commission on a $125,000 settlement that was paid out to Ashley Matthau, a backup dancer who alleges Weinstein lured her to a hotel room and masturbated on top of her. Allred was unhelpful to the reporters, and, after the story broke, strenuously resisted efforts in California to reform the use of non-disclosure agreements.
The low-profile New York Times investigations editor gets her due. The reporters credit her with guiding the story from the beginning, and pushing them to get documents to back up the women’s allegations. Corbett pulled an all-nighter just before the investigation was published, leaving the office at 7 a.m., only to return after showering and changing at a nearby hotel. “Later, people would say that two women had broken the Weinstein story, but it had really been three,” the authors write.
The former New York sex crimes prosecutor — best known for the prosecution of the Central Park Five — also had a hand in defending Weinstein in the Gutierrez case. According to the book, she helped Weinstein’s defense lawyers connect with the lead prosecutors on the case, and discouraged Twohey from looking into it when the reporter first called. She also accompanied Weinstein to a meeting in the New York Times offices, portraying Gutierrez and “an opportunist with a sleazy past.”
The longtime Weinstein accountant is revealed as the Deep Throat who helped bring down the company from within. Reiter helped the reporters understand that Weinstein’s sexual harassment was an ongoing issue, not a remnant of the distant past. Reiter credits his 26-year-old daughter Shari with helping him to understand the gravity of Weinstein’s misconduct, and with spurring him to act. But until the reporters got in touch, his efforts had been thwarted. He ended up supplying the crucial Lauren O’Connor memo, which gave them enough to publish the story. When the story came out, Weinstein ordered his HR director to find out who betrayed him. The HR director, Frank Gil, told him it was his brother, Bob Weinstein, and David Glasser, the company president. It was Reiter, whom Weinstein once referred to as the “sex police.”
Kaplan is a co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and has been a leading advocate for women in the #MeToo era. It is startling to find her, on p. 116, accompanying Weinstein to a meeting at the Times building. Kaplan was there to defend Weinstein from an entirely different scandal, in which the amfAR AIDS charity had agreed to help reimburse investors in a Weinstein musical. Kaplan, a well-known crusader on gay rights issues, told the Times reporters that their story would hurt AIDS patients, according to the book. Kaplan issued a statement clarifying her role: “Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell asked me to be part of a conversation regarding the AMFAR controversy. Since I was not adequately briefed on the specifics of the transaction, I explained that the only thing I could talk about was the challenging fundraising environment for HIV/AIDS organizations like AMFAR, which I knew well as a longtime member of the Board of GMHC, the oldest AIDS services organization in the country. At that time, I was completely unaware of the serious sexual assault, abuse and harassment committed by Harvey Weinstein or that it was then being investigated by the NYT and others. Had I known then what I know now, I never would have agreed to meet with Harvey Weinstein.”
McGowan has as much claim as anyone to exposing Weinstein’s abuses, having led the charge in 2016 with not-too-subtle tweets alluding to a sexual assault allegation. She is given a respectful portrayal, as an “unusual character” who sometimes said “outrageous things,” but who nevertheless “gamely answered question after question.” Though she did not speak on the record in the Times story, she did share a copy of her settlement.
One of the most prominent attorneys on Wall Street, Rodgin “Rodge” Cohen makes the briefest of appearances in “She Said,” but it’s a doozy. As Boies was negotiating a new contract for Weinstein in 2015, he had to fend off a board that was growing increasingly alarmed about Weinstein’s unchecked behavior. Boies refused to allow the board to see Weinstein’s personnel file, which contained potentially damaging complaints. Instead, he allowed Cohen to review it, and reported that Cohen found nothing that “could result in liability to the company.” Cohen’s son, it later emerged, was a junior employee of the Weinstein Co.
Judd went on the record when no other celebrity would. Her decision to do so came two days before the story posted, and it prompted Kantor to cry. Judd had a fair amount to lose, and was wary of getting involved without other women’s accounts that would establish a pattern. In the end, she consulted her lawyers and “considered her obligations as a woman and a Christian, and decided this was just the right thing to do,” the reporters write.