According to former New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman, an exposé on Democratic mega-donor and top Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment was squelched in 2004 after the Times was pressured by powerful people, including actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe. The alleged serial sexual harasser also just happened to be a huge advertiser with the Times at the time the story was extinguished.
“In 2004, I was still a fairly new reporter at The New York Times when I got the green light to look into oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. It was believed that many occurred in Europe during festivals and other business trips there,” explained Waxman at The Wrap.
Traveling to Rome, Italy, to investigate the allegations, the reporter tracked down Fabrizio Lombardo, the head of Miramax Italy, a man with reportedly “no film experience … his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.”
“As head of Miramax Italy in 2003 and 2004, Fabrizio Lombardo was paid $400,000 for less than a year of employment,” said Waxman. Other sources told her Lombardo organized evenings with “Russian escorts.”
Lombardo, of course, denied all allegations concerning Weinstein and his job to handle such matters at the time.
“I also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein. She was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but at least we had evidence of a pay-off,” she continued.
Despite all this, she says: “The story I reported never ran.”
Who helped to suppress the story? According to Waxman, Weinstein himself, a heavy Times advertiser at the time, and actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe:
After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.
I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.
“The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive,” claims Waxman.
According to Waxman, Jon Landman, the Times‘ culture editor in 2004, “thought the story was unimportant” and asked Waxman “why it mattered.”
“He’s not a publicly elected official,” he told me. I explained, to no avail, that a public company would certainly have a problem with a procurer on the payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the time, Disney told me they had no idea Lombardo existed.
“I was devastated after traveling to two countries and overcoming immense challenges to confirm at least part of the story that wound up running last week, more than a decade later,” concludes Waxman. “I had met in person with a woman who said she’d been paid off for an unwanted sexual encounter and thus proved she existed.”
As reported by Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti, a Times report on Weinstein finally came to light on Thursday, some 13 years later.
Weinstein allegedly asked for bizarre sexual favors, such as having actresses watch him shower, in exchange for career advancement. Zanotti reports:
In at least one case, a female employee claimed Weinstein “badgered” her into allowing him to give her a naked massage, leaving her “crying” and “distraught.” In another, Weinstein reportedly told a female colleague to meet him for breakfast at a hotel, but then redirected her to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked her to watch him shower.
Such encounters led to several lawsuits, eight of which were settled out of court for millions of dollars.