Why It Took So Long For Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein To Come Out
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Now let's listen to one of the people who were not surprised by news about Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein's own company fired him amid revelations that he had settled multiple claims of sexual harassment. Kim Masters is one of the journalists who tried, in years past, to reveal Weinstein's reported behavior. She is the editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter and had heard rumors dating back to the 1990s.
KIM MASTERS, BYLINE: The first time I met him, it was in the Peninsula Hotel. We were having a lunch, and it was supposed to be off the record. And he came kind of barreling in, yelling and screaming, and he said, what've you heard about me? And I answered very bluntly. I said what I had heard about him. And he didn't act shocked or outraged.
INSKEEP: Masters talked with our colleague David Greene about following Weinstein through the years.
MASTERS: This past November, he had "Lion" - the movie "Lion" - in contention for the Academy Awards, and they had a reception in Beverly Hills. He approached me and was being very friendly. And I was sort of standing there, knowing that we were trying to make this story happen. It was a awkward chat. And then Nicole Kidman turned up suddenly at his side - big embrace. And he said, this is Kim Masters. She's been trying to get me for years. And I very pointedly said, and I still am.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
So you call this the big story. It's something that you knew, that many people knew but couldn't prove. Over the years, how hard were you trying? And why do you think that you were never able to get that confirmation that you could go with this story?
MASTERS: Because Harvey Weinstein was incredibly wealthy, and connected and has a battalion of lawyers. And so your choice was very stark. You could take on Harvey Weinstein, and his people would attack you and do everything possible to smear you. He would do everything to try to destroy your career, and you would be financially drained if you - if he went after you legally, or you could settle and proceed.
GREENE: Why now? Why has - did the dam break, as you put it in your writing? Why is the reporting actually come out at this moment?
MASTERS: I have a theory. Well, I believe that the reporting may have started with an internal memo that described the behavior - some of the behavior that Harvey Weinstein allegedly engaged in.
GREENE: This is from someone who worked in his company.
MASTERS: Yes. And somebody, I suspect, leaked that memo. You know, it's - I don't think it's a coincidence that two New York publications ended up with this story - New York Times and New Yorker. He has not been at the peak of his powers for some years now. The company's had money troubles. He's struggled a bit. He hasn't quite had that lock on Oscar that he had for so long.
GREENE: So you see it linked to that. May - does that mean people were less afraid to cross him and because they didn't need him as much?
MASTERS: Maybe they were just tired of dealing with him, you know, internally. Maybe - this is speculation again. But I think that when you have that memo in your hands, as a journalist, you can go to people and say, we have this. This is going to come out. So and - please decide. Are you going to help us put a stop to this kind of alleged behavior or are you going to be silent?
GREENE: How many Harvey Weinsteins are there going to be in Hollywood?
MASTERS: We have allegations of rape here. And that, I don't think, is, by any means, a commonplace thing. And, you know, the studios have - gradually have become more corporate, and there are more rules, and people are more - there are more suits in these jobs, you know, as opposed to the kind of wild people that used to run Hollywood.
But the - I know for sure, there are a couple of very high-level people who must be pretty scared right now because I've had multiple people contact me since this broke about various individuals. I mean, it almost feels like we have to proceed very carefully.
GREENE: Is there a lesson here in your mind that goes beyond Hollywood about what has to happen for this to change?
MASTERS: Start with Hollywood. Hollywood is a town dominated by white men. The statistics on women and people of color are dismal. In front of the camera, there are not great roles for women. Behind the camera, in the executive suites, women are underrepresented dramatically. And year after year, it doesn't change.
So I think as long as there's that imbalance of power, and you have this concentration of wealthy, powerful men, a sense of privilege, and entitlement and I can get away with things - I think sometimes comes along with that, with success. I mean, honestly, if Harvey were at the peak of his powers, I'm not - I don't think this story would've come out. And more generally, I mean, yes, I think we're at a moment in time in the wake of Fox News, in the wake of Bill Cosby, where women are starting to speak up - and men, too.
GREENE: Kim, thanks so much.
MASTERS: My pleasure.
INSKEEP: Kim Masters, editor at large of The Hollywood Reporter, speaking with our co-host David Greene. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.