I never met with Harvey Weinstein; I've never been in an office with him. I've never had any interaction with him beyond maybe shaking his hand at an event. But the allegations against him are so upsetting, so severe that, when we covered the story, I was horrified. And, when I had a chance to focus on not just the allegations, but the evidence and the "apology," I knew that there was only one way to go.
There was no way I could write another book or re-release "Knowing Your Value" — a book about women, money, and communicating your value effectively in the workplace — at a company where the top guy was Harvey Weinstein.
I became furious when I remembered that, when I signed the book deal with Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s publishing imprint, they kept telling me that Harvey wanted to break the story to Page Six. I kept saying, "You know, NBC, and my team at Know Your Value, we want to wait a minute and make sure this contract is okay and work out the details. We'll release it together." We were going to wait a few weeks for a lot of different reasons, but Harvey rushed to Page Six and there was a blaring headline, "Mika Brzezinski lands mega 3-book deal."
I realized, "Oh, my God, he might have been using that just as another cover for him.""
I didn't get it at the time; I was thrown off. But Saturday morning, as I was reading all these articles and reading Friday's front-page article in the New York Times, I became really upset when I realized, "Oh, my God, he might have been using that just as another cover for him." He's done a lot of different things that appear to be supportive to women, but I didn't want any part of that because I believe in what I'm doing. I believe in the books that I'm writing and in the Know Your Value message.
And, just for the record, the women that I've worked with at Hachette (which used to be Weinstein Books), Georgina Levitt and Amanda Murray, have been wonderful partners and incredibly supportive of the Know Your Value brand. They were so excited about this series and I hope that we have the opportunity to work together.
But even after Harvey was fired, a lot of things went through my head as we continued covering the story. Who in the company knew about all these settlements? What else did they know about? What else was considered okay, and what is going to change? I want to know what's going to happen, post-Harvey, what the status of women inside the company is and what else management knew over the years. And, if they did know a lot, what's changing?
All I'm asking for is information before I move forward, because I want to do everything I can to make sure that they become a stronger, healthier company and have a very good environment for women.
There have been some really disturbing stories of sexual harassment that have come out over the past year or two, and I think it has uncovered something that still is very pervasive in corporate America, especially in the media culture. It is good that we are shining a light on this, but it's frustrating that it's taken so long for some people to address this.
So while the slow pace of progress is disappointing, the more conversations we have about this problem the better, and the more comfortable women will be to come forward. We need to work on developing corporate environments where women can speak up in real time, and where their concerns will be taken seriously and believed.
I know it's hard; I know that there are situations where it's not so easy. I do think that workplaces are evolving to the point that there are an increasing number of situations where women are believed. But, definitely, part of the challenge is that women have to find the guts to speak up.
Young women need to know that you can say, "No," and you can survive it. You can absolutely refuse to go along with anything. Obviously, a lot of these women did know that, but saying no is your right. You should never be afraid.
So, from my perspective — as a woman who has some experience with this, and has a platform — I want to work to expose these types of situations and make sure they have dire consequences. And I want to do everything I can to create a more comfortable atmosphere for women who don't have as big a platform or as big a voice.
That's why I've been pushing people who are bigger than me to use their voices, too, people like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, former President Barack Obama and whomever else has hung out with Harvey, taken his money, had their kids work for him. The time to speak out is now.
It is pretty clear that people can step up and make the corporate environment more comfortable for women who feel like they cannot speak out. And it's our responsibility to do so.
Mika is the co-host of Morning Joe. As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, condensed and edited for clarity.