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How The #MeToo Movement Has Evolved Since It Began 1 Year Ago


OK. If you went looking to trace the arc of this #MeToo moment we are living through, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with better bookends than the following - today the U.S. Senate voting to cut off debate on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court and move to a final vote despite allegations of sexual assault in his past and, one year ago to the day, when The New York Times broke a bombshell story. The Times headline on October 5, 2017, read, "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers For Decades."

Well, one of the two reporters who broke that Weinstein story was Jodi Kantor, and she joins me now.

Hey, there.

JODI KANTOR: Hi. How are you?

KELLY: I'm well. Thank you.

I want to start here. You just tweeted out today a picture of what you were up to a year ago today. And it's a bunch of you all crowded around a computer in The New York Times newsroom about to hit send on the Weinstein story. And you write, none of us knew what was going to happen when we sent that out into the world.

KANTOR: We didn't. My partner, Megan Twohey, and I, we certainly felt the power of the story as we were reporting it. And because the Times was doing bigger investigations of sexual harassment, we knew that this was part of a system. And it wasn't just about Harvey Weinstein. We were reporting on Bill O'Reilly. We were reporting on Ford factory workers. But you never know what's going to happen to an investigation when it's published.

And you know, one of our editors, Matt Purdy, liked to say as we were working on it - he said, Harvey Weinstein is not that famous. And that's true. Aside from New York and LA and maybe D.C., he really was not a household name. And what we've seen happen is that not only did the #MeToo movement, which was founded years ago by Tarana Burke, take off globally but it just kept going and going and going. There were so many times in the past year when I saw predictions that this was going to burn out or, you know, the women were all going to simmer down or the news was finally going to stop. And it never did.

And what's happening with Judge Kavanaugh, I think, is representative of that. There's a feeling that this reckoning only continues and grows bigger.

KELLY: Let me ask you this. If Kavanaugh is confirmed with a full Senate vote this weekend, do you see that as a setback to the momentum of #MeToo?

KANTOR: I think if he's confirmed, there will be massive debate about what this means for the #MeToo movement. And I think there are two contradictory answers, both of which probably have some validity. I'll give you the pro and the con.

The obvious one is that people will say, this is a setback. He was confirmed anyway. These really serious allegations of sexual assault didn't matter. Women were, you know, ignored yet again. This is a replay of Anita Hill. The other argument, however, is that especially what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did was really important, that she spoke up in front of the entire country. She put high school on the table. Right? She made a case that these things that happened in our collective youth do have a bearing on the presents. And we also saw moments like with the two protesters in the elevator with Jeff Flake, where they were able to literally stop the national conversation for a second and say, listen to these stories.

KELLY: One footnote to this conversation before I let you go, Jodi - we just heard there from our reporter Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson that today also marks the award of the Nobel Peace Prize, a prize that is often seen as sending a political message. And the award went to people working to stop sexual violence as a weapon of war. I wonder if that's one more bookend, if you like, to the global scope of this #MeToo moment that you helped set in motion a year ago.

KANTOR: I woke up to the same news and had the same thought. I think it's a reminder of scale. I think it's a reminder of the global reach that - and also maybe a reminder of perspective. At a moment when we are all so immersed in the Kavanaugh news, maybe this is a reminder that this topic is even bigger than that in a way.

KELLY: Jodi Kantor, she broke the Harvey Weinstein story for The New York Times one year ago today.

Jodi Kantor, thank you.

KANTOR: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF AETHER'S "ILLUSION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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