Anthony Bourdain Fought For Journalists to Expose Harvey Weinstein

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2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Day 2

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For years, journalists tried to nail the Harvey Weinstein story. There had been reports of the Hollywood producer’s brutality, and whispers about him being abusive. But because of his incredible influence in the entertainment industry, no reporter was able to get the story across the finish line until 2017 when two media outlets published explosive exposés revealing the depth of Weinstein’s abuse, including allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

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Ronan Farrow started his investigation for NBC and, after a slew of roadblocks from his bosses at the network, he finally took his work to the New Yorker, he reveals in his book Catch and Kill, which is out today. The book lays out in incredible detail months of calls, lunches, meetings, and interviews with women scared to stand up to Weinstein, and their motivations for coming forward. One unexpected champion of Farrow’s reporting was the late chef, Anthony Bourdain.

Italian actress Asia Argento was one of Farrow’s sources grappling with the decision to speak out. In his book, Farrow writes, “Her partner, the television personality and chef Anthony Bourdain, interceded repeatedly. He told her to keep going, that it was worth it, that it would make a difference. Argento decided to go on the record.”

Not long after, as Weinstein’s lawyers began to threaten Farrow, New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick received a call from Bourdain, as well. Bourdain told the editor “everyone” had known about Weinstein’s predation for too long, adding, “I am not a religious man. But I pray you have the strength to run this story,” according to Farrow.

2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Day 1 - Arrivals
Anthony Bourdain with his girlfriend, Asia Argento.

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Farrow’ story ran in the New Yorker on October 10, 2017, helping set in motion the #MeToo movement. Bourdain and Argento became two of the champions of the cause. In December 2017 Bourdain wrote in a post on Medium:

It is an incredibly difficult and wrenching thing to come forward, to go public with claims of sexual assault or misconduct — as I have seen up close. Women risk a crushing level of public skepticism, vilification, shaming, and retribution. They have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.

In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories. I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them.

Bourdain died in June of 2018, and in August of 2018, the New York Times reported that Argento was accused of sexually assaulting an underage boy. Argento later said, “I have not done anything that I’m accused of.”

Today, Weinstein awaits a criminal trial which has been delayed until January, and he has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and predatory sexual assault. After Farrow’s reporting and Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s reporting in the New York Times in 2017, The Weinstein Company’s board fired him and many other women have come forward with accusations against the producer.

Senior Staff Writer Kate is a writer for Esquire covering culture, politics, style, and lifestyle.