Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Settlements
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The Backstory | The Backstory | Episode 4
Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Settlements
Ronan Farrow discusses his investigation of the sexual-assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
Released on 11/21/2017
This story was always, in my eyes,
about the abuse of power.
The techniques Harvey Weinstein used are, I think,
important for us all to talk about,
because, while they are extreme,
they open a window into a set of tools available
if you're that rich, that powerful,
and that bent on stopping dissent about you.
As the world knows now, Harvey Weinstein was surrounded
by allegations going back decades from women who said
that he sexually harassed and assaulted them.
[Interviewer] Do you have any advice
for a young girl moving to Hollywood?
If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party
in the Four Seasons, don't go.
They were described as an open secret
for years in Hollywood, but they never broke,
and there are a lot of reasons for that.
In the Fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein became aware
that a number of women were starting to talk.
One of the precipitating events for that
was Rose McGowan, the actress, tweeted saying that
Harvey Weinstein, she heavily implied without naming him,
was, in her words, her rapist.
She then set off a series of events
that I think she could've never fathomed.
Over the course of the past year,
a woman calling herself Diana Phillip
of Reuben Capital Partners reached out to Rose McGowan
through a literary agency working with her.
All seemed very legit, they offered her
a great deal of money to speak at a gala
kick off event for a women's rights campaign
that they were operating,
right in Rose McGowan's area of interest.
As it turns out, Reuben Capital Partners
was a fake front company.
She was, in fact, an agent for Black Cube, this elite
Israeli private intelligence firm, operating undercover
using multiple identities to extract information.
He assigned them to kill forthcoming stories
about these allegations and to ferret out information
about which women were talking.
Rose McGowan was very much in the crosshairs here.
She says that she was gaslit, that everybody lied to her,
that she was living in a world of fun house mirrors.
They secretly recorded tens of hours
of conversation with her.
It reads like a spy novel, but it's all true.
[soft music]
[Interviewer] What's going to happen to him now?
One of the things we've been reporting on
is the concerted criminal justice effort
targeting Harvey Weinstein at this point.
There are law enforcement agencies
going after him in a very diligent way.
I think partly to atone for the fact
that the ball was dropped a number of times over the years
where there could have been criminal proceedings.
We talk about, in our story, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez,
an Italian model who had an allegation
that Harvey Weinstein groped her in 2015.
[Ambra] I don't feel comfortable.
[Harvey] Honey, don't have a fight with me
in the hallway. It's not nothing, it's...
Please, I'm not gonna do anything.
I swear on my children.
Please come in.
On everything, I'm a famous guy.
I'm, I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.
Please come in now.
And one minute, and if you wanna leave
when the guy comes with my jacket you can go.
Why yesterday you touch my breast?
Oh, please, I'm sorry, just come on in.
I'm used to that.
This machine that suppressed these allegations
for so long had many moving parts
and one of them was legal in nature.
When you look at the agreement
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez signed, it is highly unusual.
It specifically calls for the destruction
of all evidence related to the incident.
It has Draconian penalties for breach.
It had her sign a sworn affidavit saying
that nothing chronicled in the recording,
that he admitted to in the recording, ever happened,
to be released if she ever breached.
You know, one lawyer I talked to
with knowledge of that agreement said,
This is one of the most usurious, unethical
agreements I have ever seen.
This New Yorker story was the very first
to report sexual assault and rape.
At a point in time at which Harvey Weinstein
was already saying, This is just harassment,
this isn't so bad, I'm gonna get treatment,
this is gonna pass.
It was always apparent to me how important this was.
Every woman who spoke out in our coverage
did an incredibly brave thing.
It was painful personally, it put them at professional risk.
They put a lot on the line.
The fact that this story has had the impact that it has had
is, I think, deeply tied to this moment in history.
My own sister spoke out against a powerful man in Hollywood.
That catalyzed a lot of conversation,
but it was very different then.
The women who came out against Bill Cosby
also faced a really aggressive level of public humiliation.
And then there was Roger Ailes, and then
there's been this cascade of men since,
and I think what people have described
as the Weinstein Effect is actually
a much broader swath of a moment in our culture
and our conversation around these issues
where finally, one story after another piling on,
has let people understand that they can speak
and that there's strength in numbers
that they didn't know existed before.
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