Chronicling sex abuse is notoriously tricky. Sometimes victims turn out to be liars. More often, perpetrators go unchecked.
Many of us in journalism were shaken by the Rolling Stone scandal after the magazine published incendiary rape allegations that turned out not to be true. On the other hand, there’s little doubt that the media collectively failed the many women who said they were drugged and assaulted by Bill Cosby, ignoring his decades of purported abuse.
So kudos are in order for the New York Times, which yesterday printed an investigative piece examining claims by several Hollywood stars and hopefuls that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein preyed on them sexually for nearly 30 years.
Their story, by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, was meticulously documented, using lawsuits, emails, on-the-record statements and internal documents obtained from Miramax, the company Weinstein runs. Most of what the reporters revealed involved previously unknown allegations.
Perhaps the strongest material: eight known settlements Weinstein reached with women accusers. And though the mogul’s spokesperson officially denied their claims, the Times’ story was bolstered by this admission from Weinstein himself: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
This is a textbook example of how to conduct such a probe.