How Did the Voice Really Get the Dirt on Weinstein?

Tony Ortega is editor-in-chief of the Village Voice. He's also the man who accidentally came across a big pile of Harvey Weinstein's trash on the street in Tribeca, papers he kindly shared with readers this week. Of course, this was the same week that a recording of a private conversation between Weinstein and uber-producer Joe Roth was publicly leaked and one in which Page Six revealed that a former employee of Weinstein's is planning to publish tell-all book about the movie mogul. But there's no connection whatsoever—at least if you buy Ortega's account of how he came across the documents.

According to Ortega's account, he randomly came across the papers sitting on the curb on a street in Tribeca, just waiting to be retrieved by the attention-seeking editor of the struggling weekly newspaper desperate for a big story amid a labor dispute and the possibility of a strike. They weren't just any old papers, naturally. The treasure trove contained sensitive contracts, memos, and screenplays, many of which were several years old, but which someone apparently decided to suddenly toss without bothering to shred them or even wrap them up in a garbage bag. Documents that were supposedly in the files of one of the most legendarily paranoid players in the entertainment business.

A much more likely scenario, of course, is that Ortega (or someone else from the Voice) was rifling through Weinstein's trash, which would have been an easy way to stir up some press. (Just look at the alt weekly Willamette Week, which earned one of their biggest stories of all time when they sorted through the trash of the top political players, including the chief of police and the mayor.) That Ortega, who's under extraordinary pressure to revive the paper, and seemingly inclined to do whatever it takes to gin up publicity, would take such a route is totally possible.

But even if you accept that Ortega was rifling through Weinstein's trash, it still doesn't explain why in one week alone, multiple media outlets received confidential items from a former employee of Weinstein's company. So that brings up scenario No. 2, namely that Ortega received the documents from a source and for whatever reason (concern over potential liability?), just decided to lie about their provenance by coming up with his tale of being in the right place at the right time. However it was that Ortega got his hands on the papers, though, there's no question it's paid off nicely. He got the attention he was looking for, including coverage from dozens of media outlets from around the world, and earned the paper the sort of visibility that a story in the Voice hasn't had in years. Sounds like someone's going to have a celebratory drink this July 4th.

Previously: Who Is Out to Get the Weinsteins?
Weinstein's Trash, A Journalist's Treasure