As a follow-up to its explosive story about the alleged sexual harassment exploits of Harvey Weinstein, The New York Times published a column Saturday that lambasted the movie mogul’s “enablers” in Hollywood and in the media.

By never holding Weinstein accountable, these enablers helped Weinstein stay in power, thereby abiding behavior that has no “rightful place in society,” writer Jim Rutenberg said.

Gag me.

Or that’s an almost direct paraphrase from Sharon Waxman. She’s an an entertainment writer for The Wrap, who penned an essay Sunday in which she said she had been working on a Weinstein expose for the New York Times all the way back in 2004.

But The Times gutted it, Waxman said, after Weinstein used his clout with the paper to get her to stop reporting on him — and with the help of two powerful male stars who presumably were Friends of Harvey, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.

Weinstein was fired on Sunday from his own Weinstein Company. The board of directors said that new information that had emerged about Weinstein with The Times story led them to terminate his employment, “effectively immediately.” But this “breathtaking” decision also prompted widespread speculation that the board of directors had probably heard rumblings about Weinstein for decades but only acted because “bad press is bad press,” TMZ said.

According to Rutenberg, Weinstein spent 30 years enjoying the power “to mint stars, to launch careers, to feed the ever-famished content beast” because he produced quality films that won awards and made a whole lot of money for a lot of people. But somehow, he said, “his alleged hotel-room and workplace abuses never threatened his next big deal, industry award or accolade.”

Then Ruttenberg said, “Until now, no journalistic outfit had been able, or perhaps willing, to nail the details and hit publish.”

Waxman called Ruttenberg on his “santimonious” praise for the Times’ latest efforts by saying, “That’s right, Jim. No one — including The New York Times.”

She then explained how her reporting on Weinstein was shut down by The Times in 2004. At the time, she was a new reporter for the paper and given the green light to look into the oft-repeated sexual misconduct allegations. Because it was believed that many of the incidents occurred in Europe during festivals and business trips, she traveled to Rome to focus on a man named Fabrizio Lombardo.

Lombardo was officially head of Miramax Italy in 2003 and 2004, she wrote. At that time, Miramax was owned by the Walt Disney Company, which in 1993 had bought Miramax, the indie studio Weinstein founded.

Waxman said she had people “on the record” telling her that Lombardo knew nothing about film and that his main job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs and to procure Russian escorts. Lombardo eventually left Miramax; he was possibly fired.

“Reached in Italy, Mr. Lombardo declined to comment on the circumstances of his leaving Miramax … saying they were legal matters being handled by lawyers,” Waxman said her story would have read.

“I am very proud of what we achieved at Miramax here in Italy,” Lombardo told Waxman of his work for the film company. “It cannot be that they hired me because I’m a friend.”

Waxman said she also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein. The woman told Waxman she was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but Waxman was able to secure evidence of a pay-off.

But Waxman said she started to face intense pressure to not run the story.

That pressure included Matt Damon and Russell Crowe calling her to directly vouch for Lombardo.

As Miramax chief, Weinstein had executive produced “Good Will Hunting,” the 1997 film that propelled Damon and Ben Affleck to stardom and earned them Academy Awards for original screenplay. He also produced Damon and Affleck’s reality TV series “Project Greenlight,” and produced “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” the 2003 Russell Crowe seafaring movie for which that actor was nominated for another Oscar.

Waxman said there also were “unknown discussions well above my head at The Times,” and Weinstein, a major advertiser, apparently visited the newsroom in person to make his pleasure unknown.

The story eventually ran but it was buried in the back pages of the paper and dealt with the “obscure” tale bout Miramax firing an Italian executive. “The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section,” Waxman wrote.

She also said The Times’ then-culture editor Jon Landman told her he thought the story was unimportant because Weinstein wasn’t a public figure.

“I explained, to no avail, that a public company would certainly have a problem with a procurer on the payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Waxman wrote. “At the time, Disney told me they had no idea Lombardo existed.”

As much as Waxman said she was disappointed to have her story gutted after putting so much work into it, she mostly wonders whether her story could have stopped Weinstein from engaging in more alleged harassment over the next 13 years.

In conclusion, she said, “The New York Times was one of those enablers. So pardon me for having a deeply ambivalent response about the current heroism of the Times.”

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(c)2017 East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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