Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul, known for producing some of the biggest movies of the last several decades, was targeted in Thursday’s New York Times exposé. The paper gave details about “decades of harassment” by Weinstein. His attorney, Charles Harder, is preparing a lawsuit against the Times.
“The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” he writes in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”
Charles Harder is not new at going after big news outlets on behalf of celebrities. He represented Hulk Hogan in the litigation that demolished Gawker. He also represented Melania Trump in a defamation action against The Daily Mail, which was settled earlier this year. The famous attorney has also represented Roger Ailes, Reese Witherspoon, and Sandra Bullock.
In the bombshell story, the Times reported that Weinstein had reached at least eight settlements with women over allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact. It also gave details about a $100,000 payment to actress Rose McGowan.
Harder must prove “actual malice” against the newspaper, not an easy task. He seems to be getting ready for that claim by discussing how the paper ignored eyewitness statements. But he is also hinting at “stolen files,” and confidentiality obligations. If the paper knew about these things, Weinstein’s lawyer could claim “tortious interference.”
Another lawyer for Weinstein is taking an altogether different approach. Lisa Bloom delivered a statement saying that he had “acknowledged mistakes,” was “going to therapy” and was “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” Bloom added that “Harvey is not going to demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him.” Weinstein has taken a leave of absence at his film company.
“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting,” responded a spokesperson for The New York Times. “Mr. Weinstein was aware and able to respond to specific allegations in our story before publication. In fact, we published his response in full.”
Credit: Hollywood Reporter