Jodi Kantor, the Reporter Who Helped Bring Down Harvey Weinstein, Reflects on Two Months of the #MeToo Revolution; "What Have Women in the United States Truly Endured in the Workplace? We're Only Beginning to Learn the Truth."

By Schonfeld, Zach | Newsweek, December 29, 2017 | Go to article overview

Jodi Kantor, the Reporter Who Helped Bring Down Harvey Weinstein, Reflects on Two Months of the #MeToo Revolution; "What Have Women in the United States Truly Endured in the Workplace? We're Only Beginning to Learn the Truth."


Schonfeld, Zach, Newsweek


Byline: Zach Schonfeld

When Jodi Kantor started investigating Harvey Weinstein's behavior toward women, she didn't know what she would get. Sources told the New York Times reporter that the story wouldn't matter. "Everybody knows about Weinstein," she remembers people saying. "This is the way Hollywood has always been."

What she got was a months-long, nationwide reckoning. The #MeToo movement began with a single Times article about Weinstein's settlements on October 5. The story was based on the reporting of Kantor, 42, and her reporting partner, Megan Twohey. (Ronan Farrow's blockbuster New Yorker piece followed several days later.) Since then, women have found courage--and abusive men have found consequences.

Kantor, who has since broken stories about Louis C.K.'s misconduct, as well as Weinstein's "machine" of complicit bystanders, is now collaborating with Twohey on a book chronicling the recent wave of sexual abuse scandals. The two reporters continue to receive daily notes and phone calls from victims around the world. "Sometimes they hope we write about them, but sometimes they just want to be heard," says Kantor. The reporter is humbled by the response to her work as well as "staggered, energized, saddened, thunderstruck, moved, troubled and inspired. All of it---occasionally on the same phone call."

What was the most difficult obstacle you faced while reporting this story? Going on the record about these things is not easy. It wasn't easy then and I'm not sure it's easy now, even in the #Metoo moment, even if many, many women come forward, I still find, every day, that many women are still scared.

What was your first big tip-off about Weinstein? How did you know the story was worth pursuing?AaAaAeAc The Times has made a huge commitment sexual harassment reporting this year, and my colleagues Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had done the story about Bill O'Reilly, his long trail of settlements with women. That was a lightbulb moment. Editors at the Times--of course they knew that sexual harassment existed, but it caused them to ask the question, "Are there other prominent male figures in American life who have covered up serious problems with treatment of women?"

You had heard rumors about Harvey Weinstein. So did a lot of people. People were joking about it, and yet nothing had ever been fully documented. There had never been a proper story story. Except for one incident which had broken in the public view in 2015.

Have you been humbled by the response to your work? Humbled, staggered, energized, saddened, thunderstruck, moved.

Was there a moment when you really grasped the story's impact? Some of the international reports have crushed me--news about what's happening in Sweden or what's happening in Israel in response to this reporting. I'm just staggered by the commonality of the stories, how universal this has turned out to be, which is part of the power, right? And then the very personal notes we've gotten from women saying that for the first time they confronted somebody who harassed them years ago, like an old boss. Women have told us they went back to these men and reminded them of what they had done and how they felt at the time. Women have written to us saying that they were raped, years ago, and they had the the courage to file police reports for the first time. The personal notes bring it home in a way that the big sweeping headlines almost can't do.

Gawker made some attempts at covering the Weinstein story several years before you did. Were you aware of their attempts? I probably read through what Gawker did as we were starting. I can't really comment on anybody else's approach, but the emphasis in our work was on documenting what happened as fully as possible. The first story we published had women on the record, [such as] the actress Ashley Judd, but it also had the legal and financial trail of settlements, it had internal company records from the Weinstein company. …

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