Just when you thought the Harvey Weinstein story couldn’t take another stomach-churning twist….it does. The former producer and mogul continues to deny the growing wave of allegations of sexual harassment and assault, but he knew this was coming. And he shelled out a lot of money to try and make it go away.
In another piece of blockbuster reporting by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker, the journalist reveals that Weinstein hired an array of private investigators, former spies, and even journalists, to try and dig up dirt on his accusers, in order to keep them silent. The reach of his carefully constructed web of informants is staggering, and the opening few paragraphs of the must-read piece of reporting is astonishing:
In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.
Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.
The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.
It’s a dizzying revelation, and the full details of what Weinstein’s hired operatives did is truly jaw-dropping. Nonetheless, Weinstein’s accusers courageously spoke out, despite a strongly calculated effort to keep them silent.