Sixty-five-year-old Harvey Weinstein co-founded the successful studios Miramax and The Weinstein Company, and jump-started the careers of such filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith. He has arguably been Hollywood’s biggest producer for decades.
The mega-producer has also been an outspoken liberal over the years. He’s long been a critic of the National Rifle Association, and he was a major donor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He even participated in the Women’s March in January of this year.
A new report from The New York Times reveals that, aside from his professional accomplishments and political advocacy over the past decades, Weinstein has also been leading a secret life.
In a story published Thursday, The Times revealed internal company complaints about Weinstein and his behavior toward women over the years.
The specific stories are too grotesque to get into details here, but Weinstein apparently used his professional position to coerce women into sleeping with him or providing sexual favors, and he created a toxic environment for females at the companies he owns.
What makes the report shocking is that not every account is credited to an anonymous source. The story reveals a letter sent by a former employee of Weinstein’s to company executives about his behavior.
Another experience is credited to Ashley Judd, an A-list actress, who went on the record to say that when she was a young performer, Weinstein tried to coerce her into sexual favors after calling her to his hotel room under the guise of having a breakfast business meeting.
The producer’s behavior was so bad at one point that women began traveling in pairs when called to his office or home, as he would often claim he was asking them to report so they could discuss business when he had far more unsavory things in mind.
Even more shocking about the report is that Weinstein himself responded — and it was a strange response, to say the least.
His official reply to the allegations made by various women read as follows.
I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.
I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone.
I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person, and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.
I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.
Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she’s put together a team of people. I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head-on.
I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words, and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 “I’m not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children.” The same is true for me. I want a second chance in the community but I know I’ve got work to do to earn it. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt, and I plan to do right by all of them.
I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President; perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.
Weinstein’s pseudo-apology is disgusting and a slap in the face to the seemingly countless women affected by his actions.
It should almost read, “Yeah, I know I did bad stuff and hurt people. Deal with it. I have liberal politics and attack right-wingers, so you all should love me.”
Weinstein at first waves off his actions — and says he’s from a “different time.” A “different time” does not excuse abusing and taking advantage of people. He’s not in trouble for saying the wrong thing or making a politically incorrect joke. He’s in trouble for some pretty reprehensible behavior toward women, which would be wrong in any decade.
The producer then hides behind his politics in the final paragraphs of what might be one of the worst apologies ever written in history.
Mr. Weinstein, your politics do not shield you from criticism or excuse your actions. You may feel righteous in taking on people you disagree with, but a man is defined by his actions and treatment of other human beings, not by the causes he latches onto.
Who would want this guy in their political fight anyway? What credit does he have to attack the NRA or any other organization he sees as negative to society?
How much bad has this man done in his lifetime to the culture and to his fellow human beings?
It’s a near-guarantee that none of these women who have been hurt give a hoot what his political affiliation might be. If anything, they should be more offended that he publicly claims to be a feminist and a an inclusive liberal and then turns around and treats women so poorly.
What is clear from contrasting the horrible stories about Weinstein’s behavior to his empty explanation is that actions speak oh-so-much-louder than words.
Speaking of actions, Weinstein announced to the New York Post early on Thursday that he was planning to sue The New York Times for $50 million. He didn’t deny specific allegations, but said the paper didn’t provide him with the names of people going on record against him and they didn’t report enough of his good deeds.
“What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of The Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting,” said Weinstein. The lawsuit must be the first step in his process to “change” and earn a “second chance.”