Nearly a month ago, Ronan Farrow published a story in The New Yorker on the heels of the one in the New York Times that, altogether, played a pivotal role in allowing dozens of women to come forward with their stories of being sexually harassed and assaulted by the former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein—and, eventually, even other major figures who also turn out to have been predators in the industry, like the actor Kevin Spacey and the director James Toback.
Farrow may have been behind the Times in publishing his story, but now it turns out that he and at least one of the Times reporters, Jodi Kantor, were more united than one might have thought: Around 6:30 p.m. Monday night, the New Yorker published a follow-up to Farrow’s report ominously titled “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies”—a story that reads like dystopian fiction in revealing that Weinstein has been able to systematically prey on women without persecution largely because he has employed staggeringly tough practices, including private detectives, lawyers and undercover former agents of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, to intimidate those who have accused him, as well as reporters like Farrow and Kantor who were attempting to document their testimonies.
Primary among Weinstein’s targets was Rose McGowan, the actress who has said that Weinstein raped her and received a $100,000 settlement from him in 1997, but has grown increasingly vocal lately, boldly calling out any and everyone who might be or support predators on her Twitter account. After breaking her two-decades long silence at the Women’s Convention in Detroit last month, McGowan did so even more officially on Monday when she revealed she’ll soon be publishing a memoir—one that, hours after it was announced, turns out to have long been subject to intense scrutiny from Weinstein’s spies, chief among them a woman going by Diana Filip, who reached out to McGowan this past May to say she was “launching an initiative to combat discrimination against women in the workplace.”
From then on, the pair met at least three more times, eating ice cream on the boardwalk in Venice, discussing women’s empowerment, and, unbeknown to McGowan, producing tens of hours of audio of recorded conversations with her that were ultimately delivered to Black Cube, a firm run primarily by former employees of Israeli intelligence agencies like Mossad that was getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Weinstein to uncover any information about McGowan’s upcoming book, which is set to be published by HarperOne on January 30.
Apparently unsatisfied with those tens of hours on information, Weinstein went on to offer additional money for “the other half” of McGowan’s book “in readable book and legally admissible format,” as well as $300,000 for any information that might stop the publication of the article that was eventually published in the New York Times. They were, of course, ultimately unsuccessful on both counts, but not before the woman who went as Diana Filip, who appears to have actually been a former officer in the Israeli Defense Forces working for Black Cube, contacted and met with journalists working on stories about Weinstein in an attempt to discover which actresses were planning on speaking out.
With the help of several firms, including Kroll, one of the largest corporate intelligence agencies, Weinstein amassed files on reporters including Farrow and Kantor, as well as Ben Wallace of New York, and the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Adam Moss. (It wasn’t the first time he used such a tactic: He also assigned Kroll to “dig up unflattering information” about the late medic critic David Carr, who profiled Weinstein for New York all the way back in 2001.)
Still, of all of Weinstein’s chilling moves, his callous appears to have been to repeatedly coerce other women into assisting him in his abuse of women—and to similarly do so under wraps and without their consent. He knew that McGowan, for example, who told Farrow she’s felt like she’s been living “inside a mirrored fun house” because “everyone lied to me all the time,” would only open up to a women’s rights advocate—or at least someone so committed to posing as one that the day after the New Yorker published Farrow’s first story, the woman going as Filip emailed McGowan “Hi Love, How are you feeling? . . . Just wanted to tell you how brave I think you are,” and signed it with an “xx.”
Key to Weinstein’s efforts were also two of his former female employees, Pamela Lubell and Denise Doyle Chambers, whom he tapped—or “manipulated,” in the words of Lubell—to compile a list of his former employees for what he said was an upcoming book about Miramax, but in fact turned out to essentially be a list of those who might go public with his history of assault. Eventually, Lubell, who started to realize that “all of a sudden this was something very different from what we signed up for,” had her worst fears confirmed on the day the Times published its expose, at which point Weinstein reportedly went berserk.
Lubell, who told Farrow she hasn’t slept well since, said she knew Weinstein “was a bully and a cheater,” but she “never thought he was a predator.” With the help of women like Kantor, and of course reporters like Farrow, too, however, McGowan, on the other hand, has finally been freed from the fun house: “Here is my official statement: CHECK MOTHERFUCKING MATE PIGFACE,” she tweeted, along with a video of a burning effigy of Weinstein clutching an Oscar, which is soon swallowed up along with him in flames, against the backdrop of fireworks.
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