Secret Recording Captures Harvey Weinstein Defending Himself Before New York Times Published Allegations
A secret recording offers a look inside Harvey Weinstein's war room as the Hollywood titan attempts to convince New York Times reporters the allegations against him are untrue.
Since The New York Times first broke the story about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct, more than 80 women have come forward detailing allegations of harassment, assault and, in some cases, rape.
Now a secret recording obtained by Inside Edition is offering a look inside Weinstein's war room as the Hollywood titan attempts to convince the Times reporters the allegations against him are untrue.
Senior Correspondent Les Trent spoke exclusively to a former employee of The Weinstein Company who says Weinstein instructed him to tape the conference call between Weinstein and two Times reporters, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
"We've found a pattern over three decades of allegations of sexual harassment of multiple women," one of the reporters says in the call.
"I think you ought to be specific and tell me who they are and if they're on the record," Weinstein replies.
At times, he challenges their reporting.
"There are many mistakes you've made," says Weinstein. "I promise we will find them."
The award-winning Times reporters, who did not know the conference call was being recorded, go on to ask Weinstein whether he has any comment regarding the allegations.
"It seems like you have a lotta hearsay on your hands," he replies. "I'm gonna say this nicely: Get the facts right. ... You're journalists."
He adds, "I'm not a saint, but I'm not the sinner you think I am."
The reporters ask specifically about actress Rose McGowan, who said Weinstein sexually assaulted her in 1997.
"We know that in 1997 you paid $100,000 to Rose McGowan following an encounter in a hotel room," says one reporter. "Is there anything you want to tell us about that?"
But Weinstein defers nearly every question to his attorney Charles Harder, who in turn says repeatedly that he'll "get back" to the reporters on that.
Weinstein did provide responses to the Times prior to publication in which he denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
The call took place in a conference room at Weinstein's now-shuttered officers in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. When the reporters ask to record the interview for accuracy, which is standard procedure, Weinstein tells them he's "not comfortable" with that.
"Then I assume that you're not recording us?" a Times reporter asks.
"No, we're not recording you," Weinstein answers.
But according to Frank Gil, who was in the room during the conference call, that was a lie.
Gil is the former head of human resources for The Weinstein Company. He told Inside Edition that Weinstein directed him to record the conversation.
Following the call, Gil said Weinstein became paranoid that an insider at his company was feeding information to the Times.
"I'm around one of the most powerful Hollywood producers of all time and just seeing his face you could tell that he senses impending doom," Gil said. "You could just sense that he's fighting for his life."
Gil added that he even saw people combing Weinstein's office for bugs at one point.
“… He's like, ‘Frank. Who did this to me? Frank, you have to help me find who leaked this information,'" Gil said.
In a lawsuit, Gil said Weinstein promised to pay him $450,000 to find the alleged informants. Gil said he then traced the leak to top executives including Weinstein's own brother, Bob Weinstein.
"I just think they wanted Harvey out," said Gil.
Gil said he was never paid and fired in retaliation for the internal investigation conducted at Harvey Weinstein's bequest.
Attorney Vincent White of White, Hilferty and Albanese said that Gil was punished for doing the right thing.
"He operated in an honest way and they've decided to harm him because he did that," White told Inside Edition. “A number of very powerful men are trying to treat our client like their scapegoat. And what they need to understand is we will let heads roll before we let that happen.”
Brian Kohn, an attorney for Bob Weinstein, said: “As it relates to Bob Weinstein, this lawsuit is entirely without merit. There is not a single allegation of fact in Mr. Gil’s complaint that supports his claim that Bob retaliated against him in any way.”
Two days after the call was recorded, the Times published the first in a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories.
Harvey Weinstein's days as a high-powered producer were over, and the #MeToo movement was launched.
Harvey Weinstein, who denies all allegations of wrongdoing against him, goes on trial for rape and sexual assault in September. He has pleaded not guilty.
A spokesperson for The New York Times said, "This call with Harvey Weinstein and his legal team, which took place two days before The New York Times published its initial investigation detailing sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, is part of the routine process of journalism. Our journalists regularly reach out to those who figure prominently in our coverage for comment to ensure fairness and accuracy."
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