Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is sitting in a prison hospital awaiting his sentencing for rape and sexual assault.
Many thought this day would never come.
“There certainly was a sense of bracing for a much more expected outcome that was much more in line with Weinstein’s attempts to evade accountability,” Ronan Farrow tells All Things Considered.
Farrow had doubts that the powerful Hollywood producer would be held to account.
For decades, and without consequence, Weinstein was accused to have sexually assaulted women, to have ended their careers if they refused to submit to his advances, and to have used his power and his money to keep the stories about his behavior hidden. Farrow has written about Weinstein orchestrating sophisticated means of silencing his accusers and of trying to kill his own reporting.
In 2017, The New York Times and The New Yorker published accounts within days of one another, chronicling decades of Weinstein’s alleged predatory behavior. Those accounts were followed by others that described similar experiences of alleged sexual assault — and which ultimately set off an investigation that led to his 2018 arrest and kicked off the #MeToo movement.
On Monday there were consequences. A New York jury found Weinstein guilty of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He was acquitted of the most serious charges against him, including predatory sexual assault.
“I was so much more concerned with hearing what the sources were going through, I don’t even have a satisfying or dramatic story of my processing that verdict,” Farrow tells NPR.
Actress Rosanna Arquette, one of Farrow’s sources and among the first women to come forward against Weinstein, called the convictions “a reckoning and an awakening.” In an interview with NPR on Monday after the guilty verdict was handed down, Arquette also thanked Farrow for his dogged reporting. “I really am happy that I trusted him,” she said.
Farrow credited his sources for sparking #MeToo: “We’re having this conversation as a culture today because like her were really, really brave.
On whether the fact that Weinstein was found not guilty on some of the charges against him diminishes the victory for his accusers
It seems to not be in the minds of the accusers that I’ve been talking to. I think there is some consternation: How could this jury come back with a finding that doesn’t include a predatory charge, one that speaks to the pattern? On the other hand, the overwhelming reality for a lot of these sources is someone they say is their assailant and who seemed impervious is now facing a lot of time in jail — up to 29 years. [Note: Weinstein will be sentenced on March 11.] So that seems to be overriding any kind of philosophical questions about which charges.
On whether Hollywood has changed after #MeToo
I think the result is mixed. I think there is no doubt that there is a very different conversation happening in Hollywood right now, that there is a tentativeness to these issues. But the question is: How can you translate that talk into action. And I can tell you that a lot of my sources who were this brave are in that industry and are still very much out of work and still very much feeling yes, statements of solidarity but not a lot of action.
On other industries that haven’t seen the same kind of reckoning that has happened in Hollywood
I think it’s overdue in industry after industry and thankfully we’re seeing women and now men come forward with these kinds of stories with difficult allegations against powerful figures. … But there’s a long way to go and I think it’s important to remember the Harvey Weinstein story was crucial not just because of the specifics of this case but because there are Harvey Weinsteins everywhere, because these kinds of abuses of power are endemic, including in a lot of settings where you don’t have marquee names to carry it into the headlines.
On wishing he’d been able to publish the accusations against Weinstein sooner
I was in a unique situation where I had tape of Harvey Weinstein admitting to an assault and multiple accusers on the record a long, long time before the story ultimately ran in The New Yorker and I won’t get into the whole long journey, but I was at another news organization that shut down that story, which is something that happened a lot over the years and I do still grapple with some feelings of guilt that I was not able to get that information out sooner.
NPR’s Fatma Tanis and Courtney Dorning produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Emma Bowman adapted it for the Web.