Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment row: Matt Damon denies 'killing' 2004 New York Times expose

Agencies

Oct,12 2017 09:04 54 IST

Matt Damon has denied that he helped kill a 2004 New York Times expose on Harvey Weinstein's alleged history of sexual abuse. Weinstein's downfall has been swift since the New York Times article exposed decades of alleged sexual abuse by Weinstein.

FILE - In this March 2, 2014 file photo, Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Oscars in Los Angeles. Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Co., effective immediately, following new information revealed regarding his conduct, the company's board of directors announced Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Harvey Weinstein. Image from AP/Jordan Strauss.

The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman recently accused the New York Times of backing down from a similar story in 2004 due to intense pressure from high-profile people such as Damon and Russell Crowe.

Waxman said her piece revolved around an executive at the Italian branch of Miramax who had supposedly been paid just to facilitate Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct.

NYT has already issued a rebuttal to Waxman's account and now Damon too has spoken out.

Damon, in an interview to Deadline, said Weinstein had asked him to call Waxman to vouch for Fabrizio Lombardo, who ran Miramax's Italian office, the distribution company for Weinstein, and Damon agreed to call the reporter.

The actor said he had no knowledge about the subject of Waxman's story. He said Weinstein only told him that the paper was doing a "hit job" on Lombardo.

"Harvey said, Sharon Waxman is writing a story about Fabrizio and it's really negative. Can you just call and tell her what your experience with Fabrizio was. So I did, and that's what I said to her. It didn't even make the piece that she wrote.

"As I recall, her piece just said that Russell and I had called and relayed our experience with Fabrizio."

The actor said being a father to daughter, he was disgusted by the revelations against Weinstein and if he knew about it, he would have tried to stop it.

"We know this stuff goes on in the world. I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. This morning, I just feel absolutely sick to my stomach."

Acknowledging the closed-doors "predation" that takes place in Hollywood, Damon said, "If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn't see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it.

"And I will peel my eyes back now, further than I ever have, to look for this type of behaviour. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it's wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.

In another update, NBC News defended itself  on 11 October after questions were raised about whether it had fumbled an explosive story about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults that network contributor Ronan Farrow broke instead in The New Yorker magazine.

It was the same day NBC came under withering attack from President Donald Trump for a story the network DID report, about whether the president sought in a summer meeting to greatly increase the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

Farrow’s story, released by the magazine Tuesday, offered new details about Weinstein’s alleged behavior with women that followed an investigation published last week in The New York Times. The Times’ story led to Weinstein’s firing from the film company that bears his name.

Farrow, who had a short-lived daytime show on MSNBC, had been working on the Weinstein story for NBC News. He told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that earlier this year, he had a woman who granted an on-camera interview about Weinstein’s behavior. NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said Wednesday that the network reached a point this summer where it didn’t feel all the elements were in place to air a story and didn’t stand in Farrow’s way when he wanted to take his reporting elsewhere.

Farrow said on MSNBC that he “walked into The New Yorker with an explosively publishable piece that should have been reported earlier and immediately The New Yorker recognized that.” He said there were “multiple determinations” at NBC News that he had a story ready to report.

Oppenheim, in remarks he made at a town hall meeting Wednesday that the network released publicly, said that Farrow had greatly expanded the scope of his reporting after taking it to The New Yorker.

“The stunning story, the incredible story that we all read yesterday, was not the story that we were looking at when we made our judgment several months ago,” he said.

Farrow said that he had personally been threatened with a lawsuit by Weinstein. Many news organizations that cover Hollywood have faced questions about why it took so long to report on conduct that had allegedly been occurring over many years. Yet it was a difficult story that took bravery for women to come forward with details against one of the most powerful men in their industry.

Oppenheim said “the notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us,” noting other news organizations that had tried but failed to get the story.

Also, the New York City prosecutor who chose not to charge Harvey Weinstein two years ago after he was accused of groping a young woman says the decision wasn’t influenced by campaign contributions.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has taken thousands of dollars in donations over the years from David Boies, a top lawyer in New York whose clients have included Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Boies has also done work for many years for The Weinstein Co.

The lawyer and Vance both say Boies had no involvement in 2015 when police investigated a model’s accusation that Weinstein grabbed her breasts during a meeting in New York.

In another shocking development, model and actress Cara Delevingne is joining the long list of Harvey Weinstein accusers.

She says in a lengthy Instagram post that Weinstein brought up sexual subjects during more than one business meeting and also tried to get Delevingne to kiss a woman in front of him.

She says she did not participate and left the room. She says she subsequently appeared in a Weinstein Co. film and adds that she “felt awful that I did the movie.” She says she was afraid to speak out at the time of the incident because she feared she may have somehow been responsible and didn’t want to hurt his family.

Delevingne says in a second post Wednesday that abuse of women by powerful men happens in every industry. She urged victims to speak out.