Harvey Weinstein spoke — about himself — at sentencing
Harvey Weinstein didn’t speak at his New York rape trial, but the film mogul and now-convicted rapist did deliver a statement at his sentencing March 11. You can read the transcript here.
Before the court handed him a 23-year-prison term, Weinstein spoke of the great relationships he had with his victims Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, the many favors he did for them, how #MeToo resembles McCarthyism, his plans to build a hospital for redeeming the reputationally tainted and — somehow — Wonder Woman. Let’s unpack what’s here and, more glaringly, what isn’t.
“First of all, to all the women who testified, we may have different truths, but I have great remorse for all of you,” Weinstein began, offering something like an apology, not just to them but to “all the men and women going through this crisis right now in our country.”
By that, he doesn’t appear to mean just victims — or, not traditional victims. He means the accused. “The movement started basically with me,” Weinstein went on to say, “and I think what happened, you know, I was the first example, and now there are thousands of men who are being accused.” In other words, Weinstein claims, there would be no #MeToo without “Me.” He’s sorry for that trend.
Later, while likening the current atmosphere to the Hollywood blacklist and complaining of a lack of due process, Weinstein compared himself to “Spartacus” screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
Trumbo of course — and, one presumes, most if not all of those who lost work due to supposed communist sympathies — was not accused of sexual assault and harassment by over 80 women.
Weinsten hardly addressed the effect of his crimes on the women who accused him (he maintains the encounters were consensual). Instead, he spoke of his “serious friendship” with Haley and Mann, both of whom claimed he raped them.
He also tried to appeal to his generosity, speaking of the money he raised for 9/11 first responders and Coney Island vendors after Hurricane Sandy, and went into greater detail on a more recent charitable endeavor: his proposed hospital.
“[N]ot a hospital like the regular hospital,” Weinstein said, “a hospital that deals with this, rehabilitation and redemption; people losing their jobs over the fact they testified for me, or people being afraid to testify that they will lose their jobs.”
He added that he spoke with two 15-year-old opioid addicts who were sex workers about a good name for the institution. They suggested “Wonder Woman Hospital.” He wanted a more classical feel. They settled on the Greek goddess “Athena.”
Unlike Wonder Woman, Weinstein made no claim to superpowers. “I had no great powers in this industry,” he said. “I was not about power, I was about making great movies, I was a perfectionist, and I think I drove myself crazy.”
But of course he was about power. Rape always is. The proof of that power play is how even in his last minutes of freedom, he was flailing with the tactics of an abuser, using his speech to make the case that he is the true victim — a victim of misunderstanding, a father who hasn’t seen his children, a man too committed to his work to be the family man he ought to have been, a man of charity and empathy who just has a different “truth” than the scores of people speaking out against him.
In closing, Weinstein admitted that this experience has gotten to him.
“I really feel the remorse of this situation, I feel it deeply in my heart,” Weinstein said. “I feel emotional, I feel like to go and talk to you guys, you know, just really, really caring and really trying and really trying to be a better person.”
The word “Sorry” does not appear in the transcript.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at [email protected]