Lauren Sivan, an on-air reporter for Fox’s KTTV in Los Angeles, says the station sidelined her after she came forward last October to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
Sivan told TheWrap in an exclusive interview that she was stunned by her treatment at the station after her bombshell account that Weinstein masturbated into a plant in front of her at a restaurant in New York City in 2007. “I just felt like the station that I put my heart and soul into for seven years just used it as an excuse to get rid of me,” she said.
The veteran broadcaster said she worked three shifts per week for Fox 11, covering a variety of stories — until HuffPost published her account. In the nine months since then, Sivan said she has worked a total of six shifts at Fox 11 — her last time appearing on air was February 20.
She said the station called three more times since then asking her to fill-in last minute, which she was unable to do. She provided a screen grab of a text she said was sent from her assignment manager at 1:21 p.m. on May 15, asking if she could work at 3 p.m. later that day. “I was definitely the last person they called,” Sivan said.
Neither a spokesman for KTTV nor news director Kris Knutsen responded to repeated requests for comment.
While other news directors in the L.A. market called Sivan to offer support after she made her accusation, she said there was radio silence from her employer and particularly Knutsen.
“She’s the only female news director in this market,” Sivan said about Knutsen, “and that’s what became really sad and disappointing to me.”
Sivan said she tried calling Knutsen both before and after HuffPost published her account but never heard back. (She said Knutsen did leave her a voicemail message two weeks later).
When the New York Times broke its story in which multiple women accused Weinstein of misconduct, Sivan said she told one of the station’s producers that she had her own “crazy Harvey Weinstein story.” She thought KTTV would jump at the chance to broadcast her story.
But instead, she said the producer told her: “We’re good.” (She declined to name the producer, who still works at the station.)
That day, Sivan said, she got a call from HuffPost reporter Yashar Ali and decided to tell her story publicly for the first time: She said that Weinstein had cornered her at an empty restaurant in New York City and tried to kiss her. When she refused, she said, he masturbated in front of her, eventually ejaculating into a nearby potted plant. “Once he was done, I was allowed to leave,” she said. (Weinstein, who is awaiting trial in New York on multiple felony sexual assault charges, has publicly denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”)
Sivan’s story quickly went viral, partly because of its graphic details and partly because she was the first to come forward following the initial Times report. “Megyn Kelly Today” flew her to New York the following Monday to tape a live interview.
Sivan’s colleagues at Fox 11 were surprised that the station didn’t capitalize on her role in one of the biggest news stories of the year. “Everyone in the newsroom was surprised that we didn’t give her a platform to tell her story,” one station employee who declined to be identified told TheWrap. “There was never a reason given why she didn’t tell her story to us.”
The freeze-out of Sivan by KTTV came almost immediately. “For about two weeks I wasn’t on the air,” she said. “I thought it was just until things calmed down so I didn’t read too much into it.”
When Sivan was put back on rotation two weeks later, she said it was clear that she had been demoted. Her shifts were “fewer and far between,” and tended to come on weekends and nights and featured less-desirable assignments, she said.
“I was no longer covering the A-block stories,” Sivan said. “I was sent out to cover a kid who got bit by a dog.”
Sivan’s manager, John Ferriter, said he too was surprised by the station’s response. “We kept thinking they were going to do more with her because she was in the middle of the story but the reaction was the opposite,” he told TheWrap. “It was as if she didn’t exist there.”
These days, Sivan is hosting a daily radio show on KABC with Dr. Drew Pinsky, “Dr. Drew Midday Live With Lauren Sivan,” and an Oxygen crime show, “Abuse of Power.”
Another upcoming Oxygen show is also in the works.
For Sivan, the coup de grace came after Weinstein was arrested in New York City on May 25, when she said Fox 11 finally reached out for her to appear on air — as a source.
“They had the nerve to call me after I lost my job,” she said. “They called me to give them a soundbite and that made me so angry.”