After it publicized former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s history of harassing female colleagues earlier this year, prompting Fox to dismiss the longtime primetime host, the New York Times claimed the scalp of another powerful media titan last week when it published a bombshell story exposing Harvey Weinstein’s lurid history of sexual harassment and coercion. After the story was published, Weinstein’s career crumbled as he quickly became persona non grata in an industry that he had dominated for nearly 30 years. Lawyers and advisers denounced him. Politicians returned campaign contributions. Humanitarian awards were rescinded. And the legendary producer was fired from his own company.
But while the Times gloated over its latest triumph of holding the powerful to account, one former NYT reporter revealed that America’s paper of record had, for more than a decade, helped shield Weinstein, going so far as to kill a story about Weinstein’s history of paying off women whom he’d sexually harassed.
Sharon Waxman, the founding editor of The Wrap and formerly an entertainment industry reporter at the Times, revealed in a blog post published Sunday that she had reported out a similar story back in 2004, only for it to be quashed by top editors at the paper, who, instead of encouraging her to pursue the story, questioned its value and relevance after Weinstein had reportedly made a personal appeal demanding that it not be run.
Waxman applauded the two reporters who broke the story, saying she knows how difficult reporting on powerful industry figures like Weinstein can be. But she could only scoff at a column written by Times’ media columnist Jim Rutenberg blasting Weinstein’s “media enablers”, who had rerportedly turned a blind eye to his problematic behavior for decades.
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