The Hollywood wagons are already circling around Woody Allen, accused—again, but now as an adult who can speak for herself—by Dylan Farrow of sexually abusing her when she was only 7 years old. Reading some of the statements issuing from Tinseltown, I am struck again by the ugly opposition any non-celebrity victim must face when accusing a powerful industry figure of wrongdoing. Luckily, many of the most vociferous defenders signal their desperation and their lack of basic comprehension of the issues, undermining their arguments.
Exhibit A is veteran Hollywood journalist Roger Friedman, who was quick to issue an article alleging, as he has for 20 years, that Dylan’s story is all part of a Mia Farrow plot to destroy innocent Woody. On his website, Friedman headlines his piece, “Mia Farrow Uses Close Pal Journalist in Woody Allen War: Writer of Latest Piece is Close Friend.” Friedman’s concept of what constitutes a “conflict of interest” is intriguing. His argument is that Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who published Dylan’s open letter on his blog, is friends with Mia Farrow (Friedman implies that they are romantically involved while specifically saying that he isn’t implying it–his evident journalistic sliminess would undermine even a fair article, which this is not), and that this makes Dylan’s letter less credible. What he doesn’t explain, since he can’t, is why the same letter would be any more credible or reliable whether Kristof published it or someone else did.
If Farrow’s friendship factored into the scenario at all, it was that she did her blogging journalist friend a favor by steering her daughter’s explosive letter to his blog, giving him the biggest readership boost imaginable (I didn’t even know Kristof had a blog). Friedman asserts that Mia Farrow was responsible for Dylan’s letter, offering no proof whatsoever. Unless he has some evidence that Kristof wrote the letter for Dylan, or that his news judgment or opinion factors into the controversy in any way, I see no conflict whatsoever.
In Kristof’s post about Dylan’s letter on the Times website, he states that he is Farrow’s friend, which is an appropriate disclosure. Friedman suggests that there is something sinister about the fact that Kristof didn’t repeat the disclosure in his introduction to Dylan’s letter on his blog post containing it. I see no reason why that was necessary. The letter isn’t his letter, and his introduction is carefully neutral. Friedman’s own bias, however, is obvious and offensive. He writes (my reactions are in bold):
- “Choosing Kristof for the ‘hit’ was a bad idea. He is not at all objective.” He may not be, but unlike in a real conflict of interest situation, his possible biases aren’t relevant because they have no effect on the content in question, and don’t undermine its credibility at all.
- “He’s Mia’s pawn in this endless chess game.” Prove it. Kristof, to the extent there is such a thing, is a respected and credentialed journalist. To the extent there is such a thing, Friedman isn’t, as this kind of unsourced attack proves.
- “If she and Dylan were serious, they would have gone to someone totally impartial, someone they didn’t know.” First, Dylan is a grown woman with a family and a life of her own, and unless Friedman has evidence that Mia Farrow was involved in the writing of the letter, the assumption that Dylan isn’t capable of her own attack on Allen is unfair and unproven. Second, how can he read that letter and say that Dylan isn’t “serious”? What could be more serious? Do women write about such painful matters and accuse their step fathers of molesting them for fun?
- “If the Farrows had been serious, they could have filed a police report, or a lawsuit.” Again, there is nothing unserious about Dylan’s letter, and Friedman is a serious creep for insinuating otherwise. It is too late to seek a criminal indictment, and law suits are horribly expensive. (Allen, for example, is almost certain not to sue for defamation whether he’s guilty or not.) Dylan chose to write a letter. Some daughters have written books. It’s her trauma, her life and her choice, not Friedman’s.
- “But they chose a quick ambush, a sucker punch, a swift attack during Oscar season.” Hardly. Dylan’s accusation has been public knowledge in Hollywood all along, and has obviously had no impact whatsoever on the regard their for her estranged father. Hearing Allen praised during the Golden Globes like he deserved the Oscars’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award apparently made his victim feel it was time to confront Hollywood directly with its miserable values. Good for her…unless she’s lying, of course.
- “If Dylan is telling the 100 percent truth, she could have told it last fall, or next spring, or three years ago, or during the release of a Woody film that didn’t matter so much, like “To Rome with Love.” Have you ever read anything more idiotic, more Planet Hollywood? What does the timing of her letter have to do with whether she is telling the truth? If she was lying through her teeth, she also could have “told it last fall, or next spring, or three years ago.”Dylan Farrow was obviously moved to write now because she was infuriated by a new round of personal honors for the man whom, she says, got away with sexually abusing her as a seven-year old. So would I. Did she chooose the time when her renewed accusation will get maximum attention and do Allen the most harm? Of course. Again, so would I. What is this bizarre rule Friedman thinks is in effect, that victims of child molestation should make sure their accusations must be timed to coincide with only minor Woody Allen movies?
Yet this was Friedman’s most reasonable attack on the Farrows, particularly Mia, in defense of Woody. On his website, he has another post making this despicable and illogical argument:
“Mia Farrow has waged a war against Woody Allen, claiming he’s a sex offender, for 22 years. Allen has never been charged with anything. But Mia says nothing about her own brother, John Farrow. He is currently serving 10 years in a Maryland prison on a 25 year sentence for sex abuse of two young boys. And that’s not the only trouble surrounding Mia’s family. Her other brother, Patrick, committed suicide almost five years ago. Is Mia projecting her anger toward her brothers onto Woody Allen? Think about it. Where is Mia’s public outrage over an actual convicted offender? …More importantly: were Mia’s kids ever harmed by this man? No one has ever spoken about that.”
What kind of warped thought processes could generate Bizarro World ethics that? If Mia Farrow doesn’t publicly condemn her imprisoned brother, that means she’s lying about her husband molesting one of her children? The fact that another brother committed suicide makes her daughter less credible? (For the record, Roger, three of my cousins killed themselves. Ethics quiz: do I have a conflict of interest?) Who says Mia is “angry” at either brother? They didn’t molest her children. And no one has ever spoken about Mia’s kids being harmed by her brother because there is no indication, evidence, rumor or anything else to suggest that there were.
The only remaining question regarding Friedman is this: was he so cognitively and inept and ethically ignorant before he became a Hollywood reporter, and indeed was drawn to the job as a result of these twin maladies, or did covering Hollywood for so long render him this way?