We've Got Hollywood Covered

Peter Bart Accused of Coddling Harvey Weinstein as Variety Editor

”The trades were kind of a gray area of journalism in the ’80s and ’90s,“ a Variety insider tells TheWrap

Variety is trying to keep its distance from former editor-in-chief Peter Bart after a new Huffington Post report that he killed negative stories about the disgraced indie mogul Harvey Weinstein for two decades.

In the Tuesday piece, “The Most Powerful Journalist In Hollywood Protected Harvey Weinstein For Years,” HuffPost reporters Jason Cherkis and Maxwell Strachan said that Bart reveled in his access to Weinstein and enforced a widely known — but unspoken — newsroom rule against negative coverage of the film executive and his companies, first Miramax and then The Weinstein Company.

“We cannot comment on what the previous Variety management did or didn’t do,” Variety editors-in-chief Claudia Eller and Andrew Wallenstein said in a statement. “With new ownership and new editorial leadership for the past five years, our publication has been devoted to hard-charging, dogged reporting, and, we never shy away from tough stories.”

A Variety insider told TheWrap that while there may have been “cronyism” when Bart served as editor-in-chief, from 1989 to 2009, the news outlet has changed.

“There’s a distinct difference from then and now. The editorial leadership is completely different and led by former L.A. Times and Wall Street Journal editors,” the insider told TheWrap. “The trades were kind of a gray area of journalism in the ’80s and ’90s. Today if you look at the kinds of reporters and editors at [the Hollywoood Reporter] and Variety, they’re top-notch journalists.”

One Variety editor contacted by TheWrap said he wasn’t even aware of the HuffPost story.

Bart maintains some ties to Variety — including a Variety email address. He has served several roles, including columnist, after stepping down as the publication’s top editor.

In 2016, he became editor-at-large of Deadline, which, like Variety, is owned by Penske Media Group. He also serves on PMC’s Board of Advisors.

Bart did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap, but he did offer a full-throated denial to HuffPost: “Anyone checking Variety could find an abundance of negative pieces on Miramax,” he said. “I don’t see a need to defend myself against anonymous critics.”

Not all of his critics are anonymous. The HuffPost piece talked to former Variety editors both named and unnamed. It also cited a column by former Variety columnist Anne Thompson, who now writes for IndieWire — which is also owned by PMC.

“When I went to Cannes as a Variety columnist and tried to set up a feature interview with Harvey on the Weinsteins’ slate, he insisted that Variety editor Peter Bart and his lieutenant Tim Grey be present to make sure the publication took care of him,” she wrote.