Lauren Sivan feels like her career has taken a big, big hit for being one of the first women to speak out about her experience with Harvey Weinstein.
The day after The New York Times published its report that Weinstein had settled at least eight sexual harassment claims, the veteran TV reporter in Los Angeles told The Huffington Post that Weinstein cornered her at an empty restaurant a decade ago and masturbated in front of her, ejaculating into a potted plant. (Through his attorney at the time, Lisa Bloom, Weinstein declined to comment.)
Soon, major news outlets were calling requesting interviews. But ironically, the one place that didn’t seem interested was her own station. Before speaking out, Sivan said she told one of her producers she had her own “crazy Harvey Weinstein story.” But the response she got was: “We’re good.”
Sivan, who had worked at KTTV for seven years — most recently as a freelancer working three shifts a week — was suddenly taken off the schedule. When she was finally reinstated two weeks later, it was clear, she said, she had been “demoted.”
In the 10 months since she publicly accused Weinstein, Sivan said she has worked a total of six shifts at Fox 11 — her last time appearing on air was February 20 — and relegated to significantly less juicy assignments.
“I was no longer covering the A-block stories,” Sivan told TheWrap. “I was sent out to cover a kid who got bit by a dog.” (The station, news director Kris Knutsen and her manager did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)
She said she found the situation ironic, since Knutsen is the lone female news director in the L.A. market. “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.
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.”
Did the station ever tell you why they took you off the schedule?
I asked about it, never got an answer. I heard through the grapevine, “Well, they don’t want to have you on the air right now because you came out with this story, and it looks bad if they have you on the air because they’ve never had any of [Bill] O’Reilly’s accusers on the air”… I thought that was a strange comparison to make.
So your news director never reached out to you personally after you came forward?
When the Huffington Post reporter reached out to me and asked to do this story, I reached out to my news director and I left her a message… I didn’t need her permission but I wanted to let her know… I was freelancing at my station at the time, I was a full-time freelancer… which meant I wasn’t contractually obligated to them. [My agent] also called my boss, neither of us got a response and I didn’t think much of it.
To this day?
To this day. She’s the only female news director in this market, and that’s what became really sad and disappointing to me… I got all these phone calls from news directors I never worked for just calling to say: “Are you OK?” and, “Wow, how brave that you came out with that story.” 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.
Were you surprised by that?
Yes, I 100 percent thought that this isn’t going away and I could really contribute to this story… About two weeks before the Golden Globes, when I was still working there but not getting great shifts or great stories, they said, “Would you be available to cover the Golden Globes?’ And I thought, ‘Finally, they get it.’ I can interview people on the red carpet about #TimesUp because of course, I’m part of this whole thing. But when I got to the studio to get my assignment on the day of the Golden Globes, they were like, “You’re going to be at an after-party for an after-party.”
Did you ever hear from your news director?
She did leave me a voicemail a couple of weeks after it happened… I came in to the station and I was like, “Hey, I got your voicemail, do you want to talk?” [She said]: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, come by whenever,” but I was literally never put on the schedule again.
Do you have any regrets about coming forward?
I don’t have any regrets because of seeing the sea change that happened… I do feel for the women who did come forward with their stories and faced a lot of backlash for it. It’s tough out there, especially on social media. Not everybody welcomes you with open arms.