Culture of Harassment

Emily Steel, Michael S. Schmidt, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, Susan Chira and Catrin Einhorn

The New York Times published an uncompromising series of investigative stories about the culture of sexual harassment and abuse in the male-dominated corporate workplace. One story revealed that Bill O’Reilly of Fox News repeatedly faced allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior; five women who either worked for O’Reilly or appeared on his show received payouts totaling about $13 million in exchange for not pursuing litigation or speaking out about their accusations. Within weeks of publication, cable news’ most powerful host had lost his job. Another story recounted numerous claims of sexual and predatory misconduct against producer Harvey Weinstein, head of Miramax and the Weinstein Company. A follow-up story investigated the “complicity machine” (including talent agents, journalists and coworkers) that Weinstein used to silence accusers and protect his reputation. He was ultimately ousted from his own company, and the published revelations turned him from industry powerhouse to industry outcast. The series did not ignore the plight of blue-collar workers facing sexual harassment on the job: reporters documented the ongoing mistreatment endured by women at two Ford Motor Company plants in Chicago, despite the fact that the company employs a professional human resources operation and despite their membership in one of the country’s most powerful labor unions.

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