On Monday evening, Tulane Campus Programming kicked off the semester’s speaker series with investigative reporter Megan Twohey. While you may not know her name, you certainly know her work: Twohey was the journalist behind breaking the story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual assault. Since then, the past year has seen a massive investigation into prominent men accused of sexual misconduct, sparking the #MeToo movement on social media and beyond. Twohey spoke about her past, her work on the Weinstein story, and her thoughts on the current climate surrounding sexual assault.
Twohey said that the topic of sexual assault and abuse seemed to follow her throughout her career—or maybe she followed it. Either way, her passion for changing the climate is clear, through her tireless work to break stories like Weinstein’s. Before that story, though, Twohey worked on an equally infuriating investigation into hundreds of untested rape kids in Illinois. After breaking this story in local media, policy followed; a law was enacted in Illinois to mandate the testing of all rape kits. This career experience showed Twohey that “journalism could really make a difference.”
Along with reporting on the allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump during the 2016 election, Megan Twohey cited the Weinstein investigation as the most challenging reporting she had ever done. Despite a multitude of victims coming forward, the societal attitude was still apathetic: “I was repeatedly told that no one would care, that ‘everyone knows men act like this.'” But, as any good journalist would, Twohey did not let this deter her, and worked tirelessly to recover secret pay-offs and private company records of Weinstein’s decades-long abuse.
While Twohey recognizes the huge reckoning that came following the break of the story, with #MeToo becoming a household hashtag, she still laments the lack of institutional change. The entertainment industry, the political machine, the police force; all of these institutions that govern our world protect predatorial sexual misconduct. This was never seen more clearly than during the October confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. His eventual confirmation to the Supreme Court in light of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault proves Twohey’s point: institutions still don’t care. In her talk to Tulane students, she posed a question in light of the Kavanaugh trial: where do we draw the line when it comes to sexual misconduct?
This is a question that we, as individuals and as a society, must grapple with in light of the current climate around sexual assault. As a journalist, Megan Twohey certainly knows the struggle of asking tough questions, but she says we all must continue to do so. “All of us must strive to understand how the problem of sexual violence has flourished for so long, and what systemic changes need to happen for it to come to an end.”
COVER PHOTO: Variety