Ronan Farrow Explains the "Profound Guilt" Sources Felt About Harvey Weinstein's Alleged Behavior and How It Haunted Them

"This was a traumatic experience to relive these events and there's very little upside for them," the journalist said on Today

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 11, 2017 2:08 PMTags

As sexual assault and rape allegations surround Harvey Weinstein, journalist Ronan Farrow—who helped bring the allegations to light—is sharing a different perspective to the explosive story. 

As a result of a 10-month investigation and on the heels of a New York Times report exploring three decades' worth of harassment and sexual misconduct allegations by multiple women against Weinstein, Farrow published a piece for The New Yorker, in which three women accused the disgraced Hollywood producer of rape. As Farrow said during an interview on Today Wednesday morning, "Each of these sources really tore their guts out giving these horrifying details...This was a traumatic experience to relive these events and there's very little upside for them."

In response to Farrow's piece, Weinstein's spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, released a statement: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life."

"The women themselves over and over again tell a very different story," Ronan told co-anchor Matt Lauer in regard to Hofmeister's statement. The stories, which have entirely shaken up the industry since they came to light last week, date back decades. As for why the allegations are ultimately coming to light in 2017, Farrow attributes the timing to a mix of "profound guilt" and a change in the culture and power structure. 

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"Of these 16 executives and assistants who talked to me, over and over again I heard from them, 'We feel a profound sense of guilt about what we saw and our silence about it for years,'" he described to Rachel Maddow on her eponymous MSNBC show Tuesday night. "A female employee who said she was asked to serve as—she used the term a honey pot—in meetings, meaning she would be present to reassure some of these young women who were being brought in that this was professional and then would be asked to leave the hotel room or other room."

"I talked to multiple, multiple employees who said we saw fear in these women's eyes. That is something that haunted a lot of these people," Farrow continued to Maddow. "None of them quit as a result—I think that haunted them, too, and you know even still to this day some of them spoke only and honestly, so this is tough issue."

According to Farrow's investigation, this insight was also made possible because of the shifting cultural climate. "[Sources] also spoke to a changing culture that, after the revelations about [Roger] Ailes and [Bill] Cosby and these powerful men, they felt that the grip on power of these individuals slipping and they felt there was an atmosphere in which they could finally speak."

As Farrow continued, "That's not all noble. They also said Harvey Weinstein specifically is less powerful now. We fear retaliation less because he is no longer, in the words of one source, the fourth most powerful person in Hollywood. He is now the, you know, 200th most powerful."

Still, the journalist said he was threatened with a lawsuit "personally by Mr. Weinstein" in the course of his reporting. As for why the report did not run on NBC News—for which Farrow is a contributing correspondent—"You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story," he told Maddow. "I'm not going to comment on any news organization's story that they did or didn't run."
As he added, "I will say that over many years, many news organizations have circled this story and faced a great deal of pressure in doing so." 

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