Two New York Times journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story in October 2017. The publication of the first Weinstein story led to an influx of messages into Kantor and Twohey’s inboxes from women who had also experienced sexual harassment or assault. Their journalism had inspired a societal shift.  In She Said, they explain the process behind their investigative journalism. 

Weinstein, currently in court for the alleged rape and predatory sexual assault of two unnamed women, has over 80 allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Written in the third person, She Said follows Kantor and Twohey from the beginning to the end of their investigation against Weinstein. It includes interview transcripts, emails and texts- making the reader feel like they are almost witnessing the investigation first-hand. The reader gains an understanding of the collaborative process between Kantor and Twohey, who weren’t well acquainted prior to the investigation.

The first person interviewed by Kantor was actor Rose McGowan in May 2017, who had previously tweeted about sexual allegations against an unnamed Hollywood producer. “If white men could have a playground, this [Hollywood] would be it,” she said on the phone to Kantor. Weinstein paid McGowan a $100,000 settlement, which she donated to a rape crisis centre. Kantor knew that this settlement could be traced. Of course, finding other women who had similar experiences of Weinstein would make their case much stronger.

She Said gives an excellent insight into the process of investigative journalism and the huge amount of work and verification it requires. What do you say to someone in the first few seconds of a call in order for them to feel safe enough to tell their story? How do you get people to go on record? How do you prove the information you’ve gathered is correct? The journalists stressed that they always gave Weinstein and his team adequate time to respond to claims before publishing each article.

Kantor and Twohey describe how Weinstein and his team arrived at the New York Times building unannounced and the uncomfortable yet necessary reality of door-stepping potential sources.

Weinstein’s abuse was not limited to stars like McGowan, Ashley Judd and Gweneth Paltrow, but also to ordinary women, some of whose stories are given a platform in the book. Kantor and Twohey found that settlements from Weinstein to cover up the abuse he committed was all too common.

Following a theme of uncovering sexual harassment and sexual abuse by recent widely known persons, She Said also has a chapter discussing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court judge in the United States.

She Said highlights the importance of journalism and holding truth to power, particularly in a time where the integrity of the profession is called into question.

 

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