In the wake of last week’s New York Times‘ bombshell report that covers decades of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations against uber-producer Harvey Weinstein, a number of people are being treated as whistleblowers even though they allege they knew about Weinstein’s behavior and remained silent for years. We can now add Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor-in-chief of TheWrap, to that list.
On Sunday, Waxman published a lengthy article titled “‘Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers’? The New York Times Is One of Them” in which she accuses the Times of killing her story, way back in 2004, about Weinstein’s sexual misconduct:
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.
I traveled to Rome and tracked down the man who held the plum position of running Miramax Italy. According to multiple accounts, he had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.
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.
The story I reported never ran.
Waxman blames the spiking on “intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly[.]” On top of that, Waxman believes Weinstein made a personal visit to the newsroom.
She claims she was “devastated” when she learned that the story was killed.
This, however, raises a huge question: Why didn’t Waxman expose the truth about Weinstein in 2009 after she launched TheWrap?
After all, in her takedown of the Times, she writes, “Today I wonder: If this story had come to light at the time, would Weinstein have continued his behavior for another decade[?]”
This very same question can be asked of Waxman. To paraphrase her own wondering: If Sharon Waxman had revealed what she knew in 2009, would Weinstein have continued this behavior for nearly a decade?
After being confronted with this question online, Waxman updated her piece with the following explanation:
Several have asked why I did not pursue the story once I started TheWrap. Fair question. Five years later, 2009, the moment had passed to go back and write the missing piece about Lombardo, who was no longer on the scene and whose story had been half-published in the Times. Miramax was no longer part of the Walt Disney Company. And I did not have sufficient evidence to write about a pay-off, even though I knew one existed. My focus was on raising money, building a website and starting a media company. In the subsequent years since then I did not hear about further pay-offs or harrassment [sic] and thought the issue was in the past. Weinstein had made a big effort, supposedly, to curb his temper and behavior, which was reflected in other areas of his public life.
Waxman’s claim about Weinstein’s behavior being “in the past” does not square with TheWrap’s own reporting. More than two years ago, TheWrap itself reported on allegations that Weinstein groped Italian model Ambra Battilana.
What we do know for a fact is that Waxman has known for more than a decade about Weinstein’s alleged behavior, that she believed in 2004 she had a solid enough story for it to run in the New York Times, and that even after leaving the Times and starting her own outlet, she chose to remain silent…
Even after new allegations surfaced against Weinstein in 2015.