BIn autumn 2017, I recorded my story to the New Yorker. As the investigation neared publication, I called the Weinstein Company for comments. An assistant sounded nervous and said he would check if the boss was available. And then there was Weinstein's hoarse baritone. "Impressive! "He said with mock excitement. "To whom do I owe this occasion?" The writing about the man has rarely held to this quality: he was pretty funny. But he turned quickly towards anger. Weinstein put on several times in the fall, even on the first day. I told him that I wanted to be fair and to include everything he had to say, and then asked if he would like me to record. He seemed to panic and was with one click, The pattern was repeated that afternoon. But when I made him talk for a long time, he gave up his initial caution and became keenly combative.
"How did you identify with all these women?" He wanted to know. I was out of balance. I started reporting the story to NBC before turning to the New Yorker.
"Depending on the time, I have described the outlet exactly."
He jumped in again. "Yeah, really, like you're a NBC reporter, and what do your NBC friends say about that?" I felt a flush rising in my cheeks.
"I'm calling because I want to hear you," I said.
"No. I know what you want, I know you're scared and alone and your bosses have left you and your father …"
New York editor David Remnick stood in front of the office, tapping the glass softly. He shook his head and made a "Wrap It Up" gesture.
"I'm happy to work with you or with whoever you want to work on your team," I said.
Weinstein laughed. "You could not save anyone you love, and now you think you can save everyone." He really did say that. You'd think he had an explosive device on Aquaman.
In the days leading up to the story's publication, I reached Weinstein again for less formal talks and then for lengthy sessions attended by Remnick, my publisher Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, and New York attorney Fabio Bertoni. Weinstein was accompanied by lawyers and crisis advisors. He had expanded his team to include the public relations firm Sitrick and Company, which turned the order over to a well-balanced former Los Angeles Times reporter, Sallie Hofmeister.
Large parts of the talks were treated confidentially. Among the calls there were also exchanges for which no basic rules were laid down or which Weinstein explicitly stated. Sometimes he sounded defeated. There might be an almost boyish charm in the little "Hi, Ronan" at the top of every call. But more often the old tartar flashed arrogantly and ragingly. "Allow me edify You, "he said," I give you insights, "
He repeatedly suggested that an interaction would not be a rape if the woman later came back to him. That this was contrary to the reality of sexual assault, as it so often happened within work or family relationships – that it was contrary to the law – seemed to elude him. He was also skeptical of the subject of possible retaliation against him who went through the claims of the women. "Hollywood does not retaliate," he said, describing the concept of powerful men intimidating women in the industry as a "myth." When I asked myself how he guessed it, he said people could just call Ronan Farrow or someone [New York Times reporter] Jodi Kantor and the retaliation would disappear. I was wondering about this logic: I helped to create a problem, and then referred to the answer that was generated to claim that the problem did not exist.
In the earlier calls, there was the feeling that Weinstein was still living in a parallel reality. He would acknowledge misconduct and then characterize his actions by talking about a time when he wrote an offensive comment in a girl's yearbook or misjudged a colleague. Every time I reminded him that we had reported several rape allegations, he sounded startled. He was overwhelmed and had not focused on the fact check we had sent. And that probably seemed enough.
Later, when his advisors joined the fight, the answer that we finally included in the story came to the fore: a blanket rejection of all "non-consensual sex" with little commitment to the specific allegations. This seemed to reflect Weinstein's righteous view: he seldom suggested that events had not occurred, but that the interactions were consensual and were recast years later in the spirit of opportunism.
He spent too much time attacking the character of the women. "Harvey, I have a question," Remnick finally said seriously. "How does that relate to your behavior?" Weinstein did not seem to care to deny certain facts. Sometimes he simply could not remember her. Once he began a detailed discussion of an allegation that was not in the story. He had a name that we had given him, confused with a similar sounding from his own memories.
As the calls went on, his temper flared. "She has an NDA," he said of a woman. "Be careful with her. We like you. His dismayed leaders quickly spoke about him, with limited success. "She is a sweet and sweet," he continued. "Do not deserve it." There were threats to the New Yorker: sue or leak our fact-control memo to forestall our story. "Careful," Weinstein would say. "People, careful."
Once Hofmeister and the other dealers were unable to stop Weinstein, they seemed to hang up.
"We lost you," Remnick said after the sudden breakup.
"You did not want him to say that," said Foley-Mendelssohn.
"Yes, that's a good law firm," added Bertoni, shaking his head in disbelief. "He pays them the big money to hang up the phone."
But in the end, Weinstein sounded resigned. Several times he acknowledged that we were fair – and that he had "earned" much of it.
On October 10, Foley-Mendelssohn distributed one last issue at 1am. When I arrived, the magazine's offices were quiet and flooded with sunlight like a prism. As we prepared for the start, some of us gathered and I took a picture. My idea had been to expose the documentary, not the triumph, but Remnick broke it down anyway. "Not our style," he said, shooing people to work.
When the time came, I went to a window and looked at the Hudson. There was a numb feeling; Peggy Lee roars:Is that all there is to a fire?I hoped the women would feel that it was worth it. that they could protect others. And I wondered what would become of me. I had no agreement with the New Yorker and no way forward on TV.
My phone has rung, rang again. Message after message arrived and accelerated to a permanent scroll. I heard from fellow journalists, including several reporters who said they had made an effort to intimidate them.
But most of the time the strangers came to strangers and said that they, too, had stories. Some came from women, others from men. Some reported sexual violence and others focused on other types of corruption. A TV producer sent me an e-mail saying, "There are more Harveys in your midst."
• This is an edited excerpt from Catch And Kill by Ronan Farrow, published by Fleet, an imprint of Little, Brown, on October 15 at £ 20.