In a controversial twist to an already controversial piece, a columnist for the Spectator has now retracted his interview with Harvey Weinstein which partly defended the embattled megaproducer.
In a piece published Friday titled "Harvey Weinstein: 'I offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so does everyone – they still do'," the Spectator's Taki Theodoracopulos quotes Weinstein as allegedly admitting to him that he did in fact offer jobs in exchange for sex, but insisting that he never forced himself on any woman.
"You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome," Theodoracopulos quotes Weinstein as saying. "I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere. You got lotsa girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman."
Theodoracopulos goes on to say that he believes Weinstein, an old friend of his, is telling the truth and suggests that the #MeToo movement makes a "fair trial almost an impossibility" for the disgraced producer:
Call me naïve or stupid, but in a funny way I believe him. I’ve seen Harvey in action during my annual Christmas party, the one I throw every year in New York with Michael Mailer. He hits on every young woman but in a naïve way. “Will you give me your address and I’ll make you a star,” is the theme of the pickup. Some say yes, some say no. His reaction was always the same. Smile and laugh and hit on the next one.
Although some will say I’m prejudiced, I have doubts about women who come out of the woodworks years later, or return for more after allegedly being raped by Weinstein, à la Argento, who went out with the movie mogul for close to ten years (Argento has said the relationship continued for five years). The mood in America, however, makes a fair trial almost an impossibility. The #MeToo movement will bury any judge or jury that doesn’t throw the book at him.
But soon after the Spectator published the piece, The Hollywood Reporter reports, Theodoracopulos issued a retraction after Weinstein's lawyer, Ben Brafman, who was present at the interview, said the columnist misquoted his client.
Rather than a true interview, Theodoracopulos downgraded his talk with Weinstein to a "social visit" and said that for the first time in his 41-year career, he feels compelled to issue a retraction.
"After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinstein's conversation with me in New York last month," he said. "It was my mistake. We were discussing Hollywood and I may have misunderstood certain things about the methods of that place. I had nothing to do with the headline of my article and I hope I have not damaged his case. It was, after all, a social visit."
Brafman also issued a statement to THR: "I was present for the conversation; it was not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends. Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light. Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors. You have my word that Harvey did not say that."
Theodoracopulos claimed in the article that Weinstein had approached him with a "world exclusive" about Rose McGowan and Asia Argento. As highlighted by THR, both women posted blistering responses to the interview online: