On Sunday, Oct. 13, UCSB hosted Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor at Campbell Hall, where they discussed their new book “She Said” and recounted their investigative report that resulted in the exposé of Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent rise of the #MeToo movement.
Both Twohey and Kantor are veteran investigative reporters for The New York Times, and both cite the Weinstein report as the most difficult, contentious, and revolutionary report that they’ve ever conducted.
Twohey and Kantor began working together in early 2017 after conducting independent research on sexual assault and harassment allegations in the entertainment industry, the growing tech industry in Silicon Valley, and even sexual assault allegations made against President Trump.
The night began with Twohey and Kantor describing the challenges they faced during the first stages of their investigative report, as they had the responsibility of turning “Hollywood’s open secret into a public dialogue.”
Even after speaking with multiple actresses including Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, and Gwyneth Paltrow, all of whom experienced sexual assault or harassment at the hands of Weinstein, Kantor and Twohey knew that relying solely on firsthand testimony would leave room for doubt and blatant denial.
In order to corroborate these stories, they took their investigation further and began looking into secret legal settlements that were exchanged between Weinstein’s attorneys and his victims as a means of keeping those victims silent in exchange for financial compensation.
In Twohey’s own words, “We decided to look at these settlements not as evidence of compliance on behalf of the victims, but as evidence of guilt and culpability on behalf of Weinstein.”
After doing so, the nature of the investigation changed as Twohey and Kantor noticed that many of the women who received these settlements were not prominent actresses, but women who worked behind the camera for Weinstein’s company, and as such were easily coerced by Weinstein.
This somewhat shifted the nature of the report, as Twohey and Knator began looking into The Weinstein Company’s corporate and legal structure, which was, “seemingly designed to enable harassment and assault.”
After acquiring testimony from The Weinstein Company’s employees, multiple victims, and compiling memos and legal documents from executives at the company, Twohey and Kantor were finally ready to publish their exposé.
Upon releasing the report Kantor and Twohey were met with a lot of praise, but they also pointed out that “the attention was not all positive and high-spirited, it opened up a broader discussion on the nature of sexual assault and harassment and how we should deal with it.”
As journalists, it is Twohey and Knator’s responsibility to remain somewhat objective on the topics that they cover, so they were unable to share their personal opinions on the social movement that their report started.
However, they did leave the audience with some closing thoughts on the impact of their work and the nature of sexual responsibility as we move forward.
“We are in a unique position right now; we can change our culture and raise a new generation of children who will be appalled at the sexual violence that their mothers and grandmothers experienced, and hopefully, they will never experience that kind of sexual violence themselves.”