aside This Story Tells How Difficult It Is To Expose Powerful Sex Predators In The Workplace

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ROY PRICE OF AMAZON STUDIOS/ HARVEY WEINSTEIN OF HIS OWN COMPANY HAVE BOTH BEEN OUTED AS SEXUAL PREDATORS

THE FOLLOWING NARRATIVE TELLS HOW DIFFICULT IT CAN BE FOR REPORTERS TO REVEAL STORIES ABOUT POWERFUL MEN MISBEHAVING TOWARDS WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE.

Here’s the rest of the story…(Harvey Weinstein)

On October 15, 2017, Megan Twohey, James C. McKinley Jr., Al Baker and William K. Rashbaum of the New York Times penned the following report, “For Weinstein, a Brush With the Police, Then No Charges.”

Excerpts:

Meeting with him at the hotel was Ambra Battilana, a 22-year-old model from Italy, who had reported to the police the night before that Mr. (Harvey) Weinstein had groped her during a business meeting. She was wearing a wire. As Ms. Battilana asked Mr. Weinstein why he had touched her breasts at his office, undercover police officers monitored the exchange, eager to capture his every word.”

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“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” Mr. Weinstein said as he tried to usher her into his hotel room, his tone alternating between threatening and cajoling, according to the recording. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please.”

“You’re used to that?” she replied.”

“Yes,” he said, adding, “I won’t do it again.”

“The investigation that unfolded over the next two weeks was perhaps the biggest threat ever faced by Mr. Weinstein, one of the most prominent figures in American entertainment. He immediately went on the attack.”

“As the police and prosecutors investigated the model’s allegations, the movie mogul set in motion a team of top-shelf defense lawyers and publicists to undermine her credibility. They gathered court records from Italy about a previous sexual assault complaint she had filed and then dropped. Stories questioning her motives popped up in the tabloids with anonymous sources. Mr. Weinstein’s team even enlisted the help of a former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor turned novelist with influential ties.”

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“In the end, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., announced he would not press charges. Once the criminal case was closed, Mr. Weinstein silenced Ms. Battilana with a substantial payment.”

“The case demonstrates how Mr. Weinstein, with ample funds and influence, was able to assemble a counter-strike against the sex crime investigation using the weapons available to the powerful. It also highlights the challenges such cases pose, even for the vaunted Manhattan district attorney’s office, made famous by the television show “Law & Order.”

“Little of what happened in the case emerged before this month, when The NY Times reported claims of rampant sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Mr. Weinstein, and The New Yorker reported sexual assault allegations — as well as the audio recording of the hotel encounter with Ms. Battilana. ”

Credit Holly Pickett for NY Times

Here’s the rest of the story…Roy Price

On October 13, 2017, Kim Masters of the Columbia Journalism Review penned the following report, “Fighting ‘the Gawker effect’ in the wake of Weinstein.

Excerpts:

“I USED TO JOKE that I could wallpaper my house with threat letters during a career in which I’ve worked for publications including The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Time, and Esquire. In every case, I’ve relied on the advice of smart lawyers to make the pieces work, and in every case, the story in question eventually was published without incident.”

“This time was different.”

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HARVEY WEINSTEIN

“My recent efforts to find a publisher for an article I wrote about allegations involving Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, represents one of the most difficult chapters in my decades-long career in journalism. Not only does it show the lengths to which a deep-pocketed subject will go to shut down a negative story, but it reveals the fear that now permeates news outlets at a challenging time for journalism.”

“The fact that my story, like the recent investigative pieces about now-disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, centered around allegations of inappropriate sexual comments in an industry dominated by men also shows how hard it still is to convince big organizations to take on stories about misconduct of powerful executives and the abuse of women.”

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ROY PRICE

“Perhaps the Weinstein story will prove to be the dam-breaker, and indeed women are already coming forward to tell stories they hadn’t previously felt emboldened to tell—and news organizations are standing with them. But I fear the Weinstein story may be an outlier; after all, Weinstein was no longer at the peak of his game, and his power had ebbed.”

“In the wake of Hulk Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker, a case that essentially bankrupted the company, we seem to be at a point when the wealthy feel emboldened to try to silence reporters by threatening litigation even if they stand virtually no chance of winning. Some of the lawyers vetting my story expressed fears that even the weakest of legal claims could wind up being heard by a dangerously hostile judge or jury. Their usual caution seemed to have turned into very real fear.”

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LISA BLOOM

“It didn’t help that one of the lawyers fighting my story was Charles Harder, who successfully represented Hogan in the Gawker case. He was part of a tag team with Lisa Bloom, who along with Harder also represented Weinstein in his unsuccessful efforts to fend off The New York Times and The New Yorker. Bloom resigned from representing Weinstein after initially arguing that he was an “old dinosaur.” (Her own mother, Gloria Allred, reproached her.) In my case, one of Bloom’s tactics was to try to kill the story by telling multiple outlets that I had approached Price and Amazon for money to support my radio show. There was no truth to this, as I had never asked either for funding.”

“The version of my story that finally posted in August by the tech website The Information reported, among other things, that in 2015 Price had made unwelcome sexual comments to Isa Hackett, a key producer of The Man in the High Castle—one of Amazon’s highest-profile shows—and the daughter of the novelist Philip K. Dick, on whose work the show is based. Amazon had brought in an outside investigator, Christine Farrell of Public Interest Investigations, to investigate the alleged incident, and Farrell had returned in spring 2017 to question staff again about Price and another executive. (An Amazon spokesman has said the second inquiry did not focus at all on Price but my sources dispute that.) The outcome of these inquiries is not known.”

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ISA DICK HACKETT (L)

“I knew much more than made the cut in the story that initially ran—for example, multiple sources told me exactly what Price allegedly had said to Hackett—but certainly I was glad to get a piece published at all. The Wall Street Journal on October 6 ran an article on the troubled workplace culture at Amazon Studios that included material I had confirmed months earlier but had not been able to get published. One example: Price’s efforts to have Amazon buy an idea for a series called 12 Parties from his fiancée, Lila Feinberg. (Ultimately she did get a deal—from the Weinstein Company.)

“When in the course of my reporting I asked Amazon about Hackett as well as some other conduct I’d heard about, the company responded with two generic statements about company standards. But Price’s attorneys went on the offensive without going on the record.”

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“Price, 51, is well-known in Hollywood. He has presided over Amazon Studios’s growth into a giant streaming service with such series as  Transparent and movies such as Manchester by the Sea. He has long family connections in the entertainment world: His father ran Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures.”

“People in Hollywood and the media world were surprised my byline ended up in The Information, given that I worked at The Hollywood Reporter. (My editor there, Matthew Belloni, said in a Recode article about my difficulties getting the story published that “any suggestion that a story on this topic didn’t run because of outside pressure would be false.”) THR did allow me to shop the story elsewhere, but it came with a guaranteed threat of litigation from Price’s attorneys. Over the weeks that would follow, as I began searching for a home for my scoop, Harder and Bloom convinced every publication that considered my story that they weren’t just threatening legal action but would indeed sue.”

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CHARLES HARDER (CENTER)/ HULK HOGAN (R)

“Perhaps that threat was so convincing because Harder had handled Hogan’s devastating suit against Gawker with backing from billionaire Peter Thiel. In her zeal to protect her client—who has yet to address any of the allegations in my piece publicly—Bloom claimed that I had turned on Price after he rebuffed my demand to have Amazon underwrite The Business, the public-radio show that I host on KCRW. I can’t guess who concocted that allegation, but I assume the idea was to establish a potential argument that I had behaved unethically and had a personal grudge against him and therefore didn’t care what the facts were. (Since Price is a public figure, his only hope of prevailing in court would be to argue that I published information I knew to be false.”

“When I first read the claim in an email from Bloom, I was angry, but I also laughed because it was ridiculous. I’ve never discussed underwriting with anyone, even internally at KCRW.”

“I’m told Bloom insisted she had proof, though of course none was produced. My editor at THR told her that the story was false, but she repeated it to other publications nonetheless. (Bloom on Thursday (10/12/17) said she no longer is working with Price.)”

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LISA BLOOM

“I assumed the lawyers at the various outlets that considered my story would ask about the allegation. But I didn’t expect that they would ask again and again. One editor asked me whether my email signature, which says I’m host of The Business, had ever included words urging support for public radio. (No.) One asked if I could produce “exculpatory evidence.” (I offered to ask my employers at KCRW to give a declaration that there had never been any discussion of underwriting.) ”

“In fairness, the threat of litigation was not the only issue with my piece that could give editors pause. While I had a general statement from Hackett addressing the need for respect in the workplace, initially she didn’t directly confirm that the episode had taken place. Ultimately, she gave The Information a statement confirming a “troubling incident with Roy” and an investigation, but the earlier version of her statement was not definitive and none of my other sources would speak on the record. (This is often an issue in stories involving allegations of sexual misconduct. Making matters worse is that most settlements come with nondisclosure agreements, though in this case Hackett did not pursue a legal remedy.)”

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ISA HACKETT

“I knew that not having my sources on the record was an obstacle. But five people had agreed that if Price were to sue, they would come forward and testify truthfully as to what they had relayed to me. Several offered to talk to any editor or lawyer who wanted reassurance about what they had seen and heard. But repeatedly, lawyers who vetted the piece asked: What if all five ended up lying under oath?”

“By the time I was done, I had talks with more than 6 publications and went through legal review at three. The anxiety is always high when there’s a threat of a lawsuit around a story, but this time, it seemed off the charts. At one point, an attorney reviewing the piece only sputtered when I asked her to explain what, exactly, was legally problematic with portions of the story that she wanted to delete.”

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“I have great respect for all the publications that opted not to publish my Amazon story and I won’t list them, other than those named in the Recode piece about my difficulties; reporter Peter Kafka found those on his own. As he reported, I tried BuzzFeed, which questioned me extensively before passing without offering an explanation. ”

“I thought my luck was changing when The Daily Beast offered to buy the piece and indemnify me. It was edited and vetted and I was happy with the relatively complete version of the story that was readied for publication. I was told to give Price one last chance to comment and to advise him and Amazon that the story would post that night. Harder and Bloom quickly weighed in—still putting nothing on the record—and at the end of the day, I was told that we would give them more time to respond. The next morning, the editor said that at least one source had to go on the record.”

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“Just before I had agreed to sell the piece to the Beast, The New York Times had approached me with great urgency saying I should have brought the story to them. I told them I had placed it elsewhere, but after I withdrew it from the Beast, I circled back. The Times quickly reversed course—without seeing the piece—saying it wasn’t possible for the paper to go forward with a writer who wasn’t on staff. (“But you called me,” I said.)”

“By now, because I had made so many calls in my reporting, pretty much every major player in Hollywood knew about my story, which was becoming something of a cause in media circles, too. New York-based filmmaker Alex Gibney, who had used me as an on-screen source in his Scientology documentary, Going Clear, said he’d heard about my story from four different people. He tried to help, connecting me with Stephen Engelberg, the editor in chief of ProPublica. Engelberg read the piece and was interested in  publishing it, but finally concluded it was simply too far outside of ProPublica’s wheelhouse.”

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“He tried to connect me with another prominent outlet that he thought might want it. The editor there said the decision was to pass “after a lengthy discussion with our lawyer,” in part because of the sourcing issue and yes, because of the anticipated claim of actual malice.”

“A national magazine approached and drifted away without reading the piece. Finally, someone in Hollywood connected me with The Information. Jessica Lessin, the CEO, noted on Facebook that her site had “spent a very substantial amount of money” on legal vetting but said the story that was published “was entirely worth it.” I’m grateful to Lessin for withstanding great pressure and publishing key elements of my piece.”

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“If there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that the environment may have changed just a bit, at least for the moment. Emboldened by the women who have stepped forward to tell their stories about Weinstein, Isa Hackett in recent days agreed to go public with her full story about Roy Price, on the record with me.”

“The Hollywood Reporter, which had declined to run my earlier piece, didn’t hesitate in running that piece on Thursday (10/12/17)—all 889 words. Hours after the piece was posted, Amazon suspended Price, effective immediately.”

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9 comments

  1. Hi Gronda, how are you mate, well and good I hope. Prior to the election I commented on one of your pieces, relating how I felt the last USA election was a defining moment for Woman. (in my innocence I thought it impossible for that other person to win). Well the boys won, the white house is a locker room. But only transiently, for I believe that all the negatives are forcing a positive future. Fingers crossed I watch…
    HUGS mate.

    • Dear Gary J,

      I am surviving this 2016 presidential administration, praying for a miracle to end this reality TV nightmare, perfect for Halloween. Within the past couple of months, we have had a visit from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria as well as the northern California fires and the Las Vegas mass shooting tragedy while the president is playing who is tougher games with N Korea and Iran.

      I am ready to move. How’s the weather in Australia? Canada is too cold. Mexico may be a possibility.

      It is about time, the women go after these perverts.You were right as this is a defining time for women.

      Hugs, Gronda

  2. At last. This is only the tiniest tip of this vast iceberg – women everywhere know it. We all have our experiences even those of us who never were and never will be starlets! Let’s hope it is the beginning of a real change in attitudes. Powerful forces will be at work though… already.

    • Dear Memoirsofahusk,

      Yes, we all have memories of these type of experiences. I am closing in on 70 years, and I had hoped the work environment had become a better situation for women.

      When I was younger and considered attractive, i worked in offices staffed with mostly men. I had to come up with a plan to prevent these incidents. I would wait for the office romeo to make his move with others present as witnesses. Then I would publicly dress down the romeo who had it coming. But then no one else dared risk this same scenario.

      I also developed a relationship with a powerful mentor to cover for me as I did my job. While I was at university, I made friends with the big guys on campus.

      In short, it wasn’t easy for a woman to do her job then, and there seems to have been little progress. However, that I even got decent jobs was due to some progress.

      Women need to be raised on how to deal with the boys in the playground. I have a 3 1/2 year old grand daughter who lives in another state but she has a boy picking on her at her pre-school. I will be going up to help her with this.You cannot be a little princess in these type of circumstances.

      Hugs, Gronda

  3. Gronda, powerful people have resources and money. They can squelch dissent and ruin people’s lives. Our President has stiffed contractors routinely and counter sues them when they dare try to get paid. Often he settles for a smaller percentage. The same goes with his sexual harassment and assault. We must not forget how a woman was pressured into ceasing a court case with a set date in December of last year who alleges that Trump raped her when she was thirteen. The word alleged must be used as nothing was proven and reporters did not want to stake their reputations on this woman’s story given the power of Trump and his attorneys. That does not mean her story was true or not true, but reporters saw a woman whose character was not pristine, so they got scared off.

    What frustrates me is this story, whether true or not, was in keeping with the character of Donald Trump. He has admitted to sexual assaulting women and walking in on various stages of unclad teenage and older beauty contestants. He actually bragged on these exploits in different settings, but he later said the Access Hollywood one was “locker room talk.” Most professional athletes said they do not talk like that in the locker room.

    Yet, we still elected this morally corrupt man President. Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      The president used to hang around with a guy who loved to throw wild parties at his Palm Beach mansion where young women were present. His plane was dubbed the “Lolita Express.” His Caribbean Island was called Orgy Island.”

      James Patterson, the famous author lived within a mile in Palm Beach, FL from this billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. He wrote a book along with a couple of other authors “Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy which is a true story about Mr. Epstein.

      According to a 10/9/2016 New York Post article, “Epstein was also a regular visitor to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, and the two were friends. According to the Daily Mail, Trump was a frequent dinner guest at Epstein’s home, which was often full of barely dressed models. In 2003, New York magazine reported that Trump also attended a dinner party at Epstein’s honoring Bill Clinton.”

      “Last year, The Guardian reported that Epstein’s “little black book” contained contact numbers for A-listers including Tony Blair, Naomi Campbell, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg and Richard Branson.”

      “In a 2006 court filing, Palm Beach police noted that a search of Epstein’s home uncovered two hidden cameras. The Mirror reported that in 2015, a 6-year-old civil lawsuit filed by “Jane Doe No. 3,” believed to be the now-married Giuffre, alleged that Epstein wired his mansion with hidden cameras, secretly recording orgies involving his prominent friends and underage girls. The ultimate purpose: blackmail, according to court papers.”

      Now, our president was not known for turning down temptation.

      Hugs, Gronda

  4. There is a grimmer side to this in this time of tensions, suspicions and anger.
    The question to pose now is, in this day and age of media journalism where news, rumours and propaganda (fake news is a bit twee for my tastes) meld and anger if running high, how safe are these men, physically? They may well walk out of courts, they may well buy of people, but they should bear in mind, there is always someone out there with a grudge, a complex or just completely off the rails.
    In a time when all you ‘need to know’ ( a dubious statement) is on the net, they would do well to play nice, for their own sakes.

    • Dear Roger,

      Italians knew how to take care of guys like these. But it looks like peoples have become more civilized but not always. You are right. They need to watch their backs.

      Hugs, Gronda

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