Ronan Farrow on Matt Lauer’s denial of rape allegation l ABC News

Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow spoke with “Good Morning America” Friday about the stunning revelations from his upcoming book on reporting stories that fueled the #MeToo movement.

A portion of Farrow’s upcoming book, “Catch and Kill,” includes the allegation from a former NBC News producer that Matt Lauer raped her while they were covering the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Farrow talks about obtaining a recording from alleged Weinstein victim Ambra Gutierrez. His NBC producer Rich McHugh predicted the tape would be “the beginning of the end” for Weinstein.

Hollywood Contemplates Looking in the Mirror, Then Turns Away

Last night’s Academy Awards featured a lot of generalities and not much inspiration or speaking truth to power.

Last night’s Academy Awards broadcast was Hollywood’s way of addressing the sexual-harassment scandal without really addressing it, discussing it without really discussing it, and assuring the public that all the worst stuff is in the past and that no one needs to worry about it anymore.

Yes, it was nice to see Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra again, up on stage alongside Salma Hayek. But no one involved in the ceremony could ever quite come out and say why those three were up on stage.

.. The president’s defenses of protectionism are incoherent babble that is just factually wrong; Trump insists that “our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead” when the U.S. Department of Commerce figures show that since the beginning of 2009, the six major U.S. steel companies have collectively reported net earnings for 20 quarters.
.. The president still hasn’t figured out that you can’t change government policy as quickly and impulsively as you type out and send a Tweet.

By midnight Wednesday, less than 12 hours before the executives were expected to arrive, no one on the president’s team had prepared any position paper for an announcement on tariff policy, the official said. In fact, according to the official, the White House counsel’s office had advised that they were as much as two weeks away from being able to complete a legal review on steel tariffs.

There were no prepared, approved remarks for the president to give at the planned meeting, there was no diplomatic strategy for how to alert foreign trade partners, there was no legislative strategy in place for informing Congress and no agreed upon communications plan beyond an email cobbled together by Ross’s team at the Commerce Department late Wednesday that had not been approved by the White House. 

.. By Thursday afternoon, the U.S. stock market had fallen and Trump, surrounded by his senior advisers in the Oval Office, was said to be furious.

.. This reminds me of Steve Bannon’s “plan” to announce the immigration restrictions without any warning in the first days of Trump’s presidency. No one in the rest of the government was prepared to implement them; John Kelly, then the secretary of Homeland Security, learned from television that Trump had signed the order.

..  he’s flat-out wrong when he claims, “Maybe it’ll cost a little bit more, but we’ll have jobs.”

.. the decline of jobs in the steel and aluminum industries predates the competition with China by decades. Industry experts know that this is mostly because of innovation and industry consolidation. The era of labor-intensive metal production is over.

Hollywood Uses the Very Women It Exploited to Change the Subject

As allegations of sexual exploitations pile up, the
industry has absorbed the critiques and converted them
into inspirational messaging and branding exercises.

Is it possible for Hollywood to truly reckon with its issues while it’s so busy celebrating itself? It’s remarkable how slickly the entertainment industry — and its annual showcase, the winter awards show circuit — has adapted to the accusations against it. Harvey Weinstein may have been cast out of Hollywood (exiled, for now, to a spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.), but his complicity machine stretched its tentacles into agencies, law firms, fashion deals and of course, awards shows. New allegations of exploitations and inequities are revealed every week. The details suggest systemic rot.

In response, Hollywood has nimbly absorbed its critiques and converted them into inspirational messaging and digestible branding exercises, just in time for the unfurling of the red carpets. Whatever talks may (or may not) be happening inside agencies or on film sets, the message that comes across is this: The industry has skirted a conversation about its culture of harassment in favor of one about what an amazing job it is doing combatting that harassment. It’s engaged in just enough introspection to recalibrate and move on.

.. But when an earnest effort is fed through the Hollywood machine, it is quickly repurposed for what Hollywood does best, which is to sell things — women included. The initiative has revealed as much about Hollywood’s still unexamined sexism as it has the abuses it intended to address. In short, that women are expected to clean up the industry’s mess, and look good doing it. And they don’t have much choice, either, because if they say nothing, they’ll be knocked for that, too.

.. In this commodified atmosphere, it was difficult to process the appearance of real activists on the red carpet: #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, came as Michelle Williams’s date, while Meryl Streep brought along Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The tactic bucked expectation — namely, that actresses tie their public personas to their relationships with men — and gave these pioneering activists exposure that’s hard to come by, but it also revealed the impossibility of dismantling an event bent on promoting a certain kind of femininity and luxury at once.

.. The image of white actresses paired with activists of color suggested a kind of moral accessorizing. And the meeting of celebrities and “regular” people came tinged with a preset narrative, one where the celebrity’s perceived exceptionalism is only enhanced by her engagement with the real world. But when Ryan Seacrest interviewed Ms. Williams and Ms. Burke on the red carpet, E! made it clear which it valued most — women’s appearance, or what they have to say. The network shrank Ms. Burke’s image into a corner as soon as she began speaking and turned its gaze to the actress Dakota Johnson. She twirled.

.. Watching this sparkling protest unfold, it’s easy to forget what exactly is being protested. The ugliness of rape and abuse is polished into optimistic hashtags and spun into glamorous dresses. In glad-handing Hollywood, criticizing the industry is verboten, but using one’s platform to advocate for other people is so expected it’s a cliché. (Mr. Weinstein himself was a master of linking his films to social causes, cynically pitching the award show ballot as a kind of morality test.)

.. The most electrifying moments of this protest have come when Hollywood women choose instead to model what it looks like to interrogate their own industry’s destructive norms: When Debra Messing broke red carpet geniality to speak out against E!’s underpayment of women, straight into an E! microphone, or when Ms. Portman presented the Golden Globes’ best director nominees as “all-male.”

.. all of this is quite easier for men. Just as they’re not required to uphold the same standards of beauty as their female peers, men are generally excused from carrying the moral weight, too. At the Golden Globes, they got by silently wearing Time’s Up lapel pins.

.. Justin Timberlake captioned his pre-Globes Instagram snap: “Here we come! And DAMN, my wife is hot! #TIMESUP #whywewearblack.” The bar is so low for men that this was, according to Instagram, the most-liked post of the night.

.. One way to push Hollywood toward change is to heighten its contradictions, drawing out the gap between its shimmering idea of itself and its darker realities. The image Hollywood builds for itself at these self-congratulatory events can be used as a bargaining chip for behind-the-scenes activist wins. As the SAG Awards neared, pressure mounted for the guild to protect its workers by installing a real code of conduct to address harassment. And as “All the Money in the World” racked up award nominations, the revelation that Mark Wahlberg earned much more to participate in reshoots than his co-star Ms. Williams — reshoots necessary to scrub the film of Kevin Spacey, and make it palatable for post-#MeToo audiences — created such a PR nightmare that Mr. Wahlberg ended up donating his $1.5 million salary to Time’s Up.

.. When Mr. Franco attended the Golden Globes earlier this month, grinned down the red carpet and bounded onstage to claim a statuette for “The Disaster Artist,” he wore the Time’s Up logo pinned to his lapel. As the night unfolded, female acting students and collaborators began filing complaints on Twitter about Mr. Franco’s own behavior, noting the hypocrisy of the pin. When Mr. Franco appeared on Seth Meyers’s show days later, he was grilled over the allegations. A Los Angeles Times report came next. Mr. Franco skipped the Critic’s Choice Awards, and when he turned up at the SAG Awards last Sunday, his very appearance made news. This time, he didn’t wear the pin. Aziz Ansari, who himself weathered his own hypocrisy scandal after wearing the pin at the Golden Globes, didn’t even show up. All of a sudden, a Hollywood awards show is a perilous place for some men to be.

.. For a woman, getting old is as much of a career-ending affront as an assault allegation is for a man. When Mr. Meyers opened his Golden Globes monologue by greeting the “ladies and remaining gentlemen,” I thought of all the women who don’t “remain” in Hollywood, either, pushed out through abuse or just discarded. One of those women — until recently — was Rose McGowan.

.. She’s now emerged as the most prominent actress to take aim not just at Hollywood abusers but at Hollywood itself.

.. Ms. McGowan and other accusers of Mr. Weinstein were not invited to the campaign’s Golden Globes coming-out party.

.. On Twitter, she’s called out “fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes.” Of Ms. Streep, she wrote: “YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change.”

.. its opening line — “I was in the middle of my second movie for his company, and I get assaulted” — is itself more real and more damning than anything that’s been said at these Hollywood events.

Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies

The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists.

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.

.. 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.

.. In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies

.. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

.. Boies said that his firm’s involvement with the investigators was a mistake. “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,” he told me. “At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.”

.. because such relationships are often run through law firms, the investigations are theoretically protected by attorney-client privilege, which could prevent them from being disclosed in court. The documents and sources reveal the tools and tactics available to powerful individuals to suppress negative stories and, in some cases, forestall criminal investigations.

.. In a statement, Weinstein’s spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, said, “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.”

.. Ben Wallace, a reporter at New York who was pursuing a story on Weinstein, said that the same woman met with him twice last fall.

.. Over the course of the two meetings, Wallace grew increasingly suspicious of her motives. Anna seemed to be pushing him for information

.. During their second meeting, Anna requested that they sit close together, leading Wallace to suspect that she might be recording the exchange. When she recounted her experiences with Weinstein, Wallace said, “it seemed like soap-opera acting.”

.. Last fall, Weinstein began mentioning Black Cube by name in conversations with his associates and attorneys. The agency had made a name for itself digging up information for companies in Israel, Europe, and the U.S

.. they originally believed that the assignment focussed on his business rivals

.. Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, wired to Black Cube the first hundred thousand dollars, toward what would ultimately be a six-hundred-thousand-dollar invoice.

.. the project’s “primary objectives” are to “provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper” and to “obtain additional content of a book which currently being written and includes harmful negative information on and about the Client,”

.. “a dedicated team of expert intelligence officers .. including a project manager, intelligence analysts, linguists, and “Avatar Operators” specifically hired to create fake identities on social media, as well as “operations experts with extensive experience in social engineering.”

.. After Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, an Italian model, accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her, in 2015, she reached a settlement with Weinstein that required her to surrender all her personal devices to Kroll, so that they could be wiped of evidence of a conversation in which Weinstein admitted to groping her.

.. Los Angeles-based psops, and its lead private investigator, Jack Palladino, as well as another one of its investigators, Sara Ness, produced detailed profiles of various individuals in the saga, sometimes of a personal nature, which included information that could be used to undermine their credibility.

.. Ness sent to Weinstein last December ran for more than a hundred pages and featured McGowan’s address and other personal information, along with sections labelled “Lies/Exaggerations/Contradictions,” “Hypocrisy,” and “Potential Negative Character Wits,” an apparent abbreviation of “witnesses.” One subhead read “Past Lovers.” The section included details of acrimonious breakups, mentioning Avellan, and discussed Facebook posts expressing negative sentiments about McGowan.

.. Other firms were also involved in assembling such profiles, including ones that focussed on factors that, in theory, might make women likely to speak out against sexual abuse.

.. “Our research did not yield any promising avenues for the personal impeachment of Moss.”

.. psops also profiled Wallace’s ex-wife, noting that she “might prove relevant to considerations of our response strategy when Wallace’s article on our client is finally published.”

.. For years, Weinstein had used private security agencies to investigate reporters. In the early aughts, as the journalist David Carr, who died in 2015, worked on a report on Weinstein for New York, Weinstein assigned Kroll to dig up unflattering information about him

.. In one document, Weinstein’s investigators wrote that Carr had learned of McGowan’s allegation in the course of his reporting. Carr “wrote a number of critical/unflattering articles about HW over the years,” the document says, “none of which touched on the topic of women (due to fear of HW’s retaliation, according to HW).”

.. From the beginning, he said, he advised Weinstein “that the story could not be stopped by threats or influence and that the only way the story could be stopped was by convincing the Times that there was no rape.”

.. “If evidence could be uncovered to convince the Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to the Times’ interest.”

.. He conceded, however, that any efforts to profile and undermine reporters, at the Times and elsewhere, were problematic. “In general, I don’t think it’s appropriate to try to pressure reporters,” he said. “If that did happen here, it would not have been appropriate.”

.. Of his representation of Weinstein in general, he said, “I don’t believe former lawyers should criticize former clients.” But he expressed regrets. “Although he vigorously denies using physical force, Mr. Weinstein has himself recognized that his contact with women was indefensible and incredibly hurtful,” Boies told me. “In retrospect, I knew enough in 2015 that I believe I should have been on notice of a problem, and done something about it. I don’t know what, if anything, happened after 2015, but to the extent it did, I think I have some responsibility.

.. In the middle of the meeting, Weinstein asked Lubell if they could have a private conversation in his office. Lubell told me that a lawyer working with Weinstein was already there, along with Doyle Chambers. Weinstein asked if Lubell and Doyle Chambers could write a “fun book on the old times, the heyday, of Miramax.” “Pam,” she recalled him saying, “write down all the employees that you know, and can you get in touch with them?”

.. she knew that Weinstein “was a bully and a cheater,” she “never thought he was a predator.”

Rose McGowan Attacks Ben Affleck Over Harvey Weinstein: ‘You Lie’

actress Rose McGowan accused Ben Affleck of lying on Tuesday about his knowledge of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults of women.

.. Ms. McGowan, in a tweet and a subsequent email exchange with The New York Times on Tuesday night, said she had told Mr. Affleck that Mr. Weinstein had behaved inappropriately with her.

.. Mr. Affleck has not responded to Ms. McGowan’s tweet. He did not respond to requests for further comment.

The Times emailed Ms. McGowan to confirm that she was asserting that Mr. Affleck knew about Mr. Weinstein’s mistreatment of her because she had told him, and that she was accusing Mr. Affleck of lying because his statement did not acknowledge awareness of Mr. Weinstein’s behavior.

“I am saying exactly that,” she replied to The Times. She wrote nothing further.

.. Mr. Affleck, in his statement posted to Twitter Tuesday, wrote that he was “saddened and angry” and that new reports of more serious assaults — which include accounts of forced oral sex — “made me sick.”

.. While several prominent actresses spoke out on Monday against Mr. Weinstein, Mr. Affleck was one of a small cadre of prominent male figures in Hollywood with ties to Mr. Weinstein who criticized him on Tuesday after the new reports in The Times and The New Yorker.

Matt Damon, Mr. Affleck’s longtime friend and film collaborator, said in an interview with Deadline on Tuesday that he “never saw” Mr. Weinstein harass or abuse women and that he would have put an end to it if he had.

.. Several directors with close ties to Mr. Weinstein, such as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, have not responded to requests asking them to comment about what it was like to work with him.

.. Mr. Affleck later dated Ms. Paltrow, though it is not known whether she relayed news of the incident to him.

.. George Clooney has also weighed in on the controversy, telling The Daily Beast in an interview that was published Monday night that while he was aware of rumors that young actresses had slept with Mr. Weinstein to get roles, he had been unaware of any misconduct or the settlements Mr. Weinstein had reached with women.