Under Pressure, NYT Buried Weinstein Sex Abuse Story 13 Years Ago

The media enablers of the rich and powerful.

The New York Times is responsible for breaking the story on Hollywood mega producer Harvey Weinstein and uncovering his sordid past of sexual predation of young women and hopeful actresses. But before the applause goes on for too long, a former NYT reporter released another bombshell-claim that the paper buried a similar story over a decade ago, thus becoming yet another enabler for the abuse to continue.

Sharon Waxman, now editor-in-chief at The Wrap, said that when she was “a fairly new reporter” back in 2004, she was given “the green light to look into oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein.” She was sent overseas to look into Weinstein’s many “business trips” to Europe, where he also apparently liked to sow his wild oats. Waxman went to Rome to find out why Fabrizio Lombardo, a man with no film experience, was put as head of Miramax Italy, a company owned by Disney. It is believed that Lombardo was paid nearly a half a million dollars to set Weinstein up with European escorts.

At the time, Lombardo denied those claims, even though Waxman had spoken to “a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein.”

“She was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but at least we had evidence of a pay-off,” Waxman recalled.

However, the NYT was put under pressure by celebrity enablers Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, both of whom Waxman said “called [her] directly to vouch for Lombardo.” There were also “unknown discussions well above my head at the Times” that eventually led to the story getting yanked and replaced with a nothing-story:

I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.

But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?

Despite her protests that this story needed to see the light of day, Waxman said she was told by the higher-ups that the Weinstein story didn’t carry as much weight because he wasn’t an elected official. Waxman feels a sense of responsibility that so much time has elapsed:

I was devastated after traveling to two countries and overcoming immense challenges to confirm at least part of the story that wound up running last week, more than a decade later. I had met in person with a woman who said she’d been paid off for an unwanted sexual encounter and thus proved she existed.

But even then, Waxman was called out for sitting on the story herself, especially as CEO of The Wrap, where she could’ve used the platform to blow the scandal wide open.  She claims she couldn’t move forward with the story because she “did not have sufficient evidence to write about a pay-off, even though [she] knew one existed.” She also said she was too busy forging her own career to worry about a trail of abused girls. Feminism.

“Today I wonder: If this story had come to light at the time, would Weinstein have continued his behavior for another decade,” Waxman lamented.

It’s too late to wonder that now.

Donald Trump was put through the ringer for having said he could do anything to women because he was a celebrity. But now we see a group of celebrity and media enablers who allowed Harvey Weinstein to do the same while they turned the other cheek.


Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC