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How Power Insulates Itself From Accountability

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Really good piece by Rebecca Traister about how Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment lay hidden to the public despite being in plain sight to insiders:

I have been having conversations about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment for more than seventeen years.

The conversations started when I was a young editorial assistant at Talk, the magazine he financed, in 1999; back then it was with young people, friends—women and men—who worked for him, at Miramax, and told tales of hotel rooms, nudity, suggestion and coercion, and then of whispered pay-offs, former assistants who seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Reading the story published on Thursday in the New York Times about claims against Weinstein, I was pole-axed by the familiarity of the recollection of Karen Katz, a friend and colleague of one of the young Miramax employees who was propositioned by Weinstein, who said, “We were so young at the time…We did not understand how wrong it was or how Laura should deal with it.”

In my mid-twenties, I became a reporter and fact-checker at the New York Observer, and part of my beat was covering the film business in New York. The night before 2000 election, I was working on a story—perhaps my first seriously reported story—about O, the violent reimagining of Othello that Miramax’s Dimension division was then sitting on, perhaps out of deference to the cringey clean-media message of the Al Gore/Joe Lieberman campaign, which Weinstein was publicly supporting; already there was talk of Weinstein’s ambitions in Democratic politics. After Weinstein failed to respond to my calls for comment, I was sent, on Election Eve 2000, to cover a book party he was hosting, along with my colleague Andrew Goldman. Weinstein didn’t like my question about O, there was an altercation; though the recording has alas been lost to time, I recall that he called me a cunt and declared that he was glad he was the “fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.” When my colleague Andrew (who was also then my boyfriend) intervened, first calming him down and then trying to extract an apology, Weinstein went nuclear, pushing Andrew down a set of steps inside the Tribeca Grand—knocking him over with such force that his tape-recorder hit a woman, who suffered long-term injury—and dragging Andrew, in a headlock, onto Sixth Avenue.

Such was the power of Harvey Weinstein in 2000 that despite the dozens of camera flashes that went off on that sidewalk that night, capturing the sight of an enormously famous film executive trying to pound in the head of a young newspaper reporter, I have never once seen a photo. Back then, Harvey could spin—or suppress—anything; there were so many journalists on his payroll, working as consultants on movie projects, or screenwriters, or for his magazine.

Read the while etc.

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