The latest development in the rapid fall of Hollywood independent film mogul and lionized Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein: The board of his own company, The Weinstein Company, just fired him.
You should read the New York Times’ damning story, following an investigation, about the extent of Weinstein’s long reign of misogynist terror in Hollywood. I don’t care to re-hash it. Note, as you read, that as disgusting as it is, more disgusting stories have come out since it was published. For example, a TV journalist now says that Weinstein once trapped her in the hallway of a restaurant that was closed to the public and masturbated in front of her until he ejaculated. She says she told friends about the episode, but remained quiet because “she was in a long-term relationship” and was “fearful of the power that Weinstein wielded in the media.”
- WHAT? She withheld this story for a decade because she was fearful, thus allowing Weinstein to abuse how many other women? Hundreds? I’d love to ask her if a powerful individual, in her opinion, could have done anything that would have caused her to make the effort to overcome her fear and self-interest. Someone who would act as she describes is pathological. What she endured was a criminal act. This is signature significance, is it not? Does a civilized, trustworthy, non-sociopath sicko ever do such a thing even once, on the worst day of his life? “I’m sorry I trapped you and masturbated in front of you; it wasn’t the best choice, and anyone can make a mistake.”
The man is and was dangerous. The woman had a citizen’s duty to report this to the police; I don’t care how powerful he was.
- And, apparently, dozens of actresses had experiences, if not quite that horrifying, horrifying enough. In the Times report, we learn that Weinstein invited Angry Progressive Feminist Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel 20 years ago for what she thought would be a breakfast meeting about her career. Weinstein had her sent to his hotel suite, where he greeted the actress in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage. She told The Times that he then proposed that she watch him shower. Now she tells us this? Now, after she excoriated the President on the Mall, using obscene terms to cheer on “resistance” “pussy- hat marchers in January and speculate about the President’s Trump’s wet dreams about his own daughter? Judd said she kept quiet to avoid alienating Harvey Weinstein because she was just at the beginning of her career—you know, like all of those Cosby victims. What’s her excuse for the rest of the 20 years, allowing more young actresses to be extorted into sexual submission? Larry O’Connor has the (revolting) answer, I think. In a piece for Mediaite, he writes of Judd,
Has she channeled that anger and humiliation and fear at the industry that allowed it? Or at the man and his multi-million dollar corporation that enabled it? No. Her real enemies are Republicans. Don’t you get it?
So the not-so-hidden message in Weinstein’s non-apology statement was “Hey, remember, I supported Hillary and Obama and I raise millions for Democrats and I’ll help destroy the NRA and Trump. I may treat you like shit, but my heart is in the right place. Now get your knee pads on.”
In Hollywood, being liberal means never having to say you’re sorry.
Judd has been praised for having the courage to tell her story now…when Weinstein is elderly and his power is waning, knowing the he was about to be exposed. No, this is an example of Rationalization #22, “It’s not the worst thing.” Yes, Judd is not as bad as the many, many actresses who kept quiet about this sexual predator, endangering others, who still are mum. Whoopie!
- Actress Meryl Streep, a prominent force in launching the trend of turning all entertainment award show into non-stop anti-Trump diatribes because he boasted about “pussygrabbing” (though never, as far as we know, about public masturbation) issued a statement, perhaps because she has effusively praised Weinstein more than once:
“The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supportedThe intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes. One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts. And If everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.”
She’s lying, or she is incredibly stupid. This immediately reminded me of Greta Van Susteren’s laughable defense of Fox News predator Roger Ailes when he was finally publicly exposed as a serial harasser, saying she didn’t believe it because he had never harassed her. Hollywood producers and executive have used their power and influence to prey on women since the beginning of Tinseltown: this is a sick, sexist culture that has been exhaustively documented by memoirs, journalists, and Hollywood itself. These predators are always known around town; how could they not be? Look, I have been on the fringes of professional show business, on the other side of the continent, and I had heard rumors of Weinstein’s casting couch conduct. I had heard about Cosby too, at least 10 years before that scandal broke. But Meryl Streep is shocked—shocked!—that Harvey Weinstein wasn’t a feminist just because he gave lots of money to progressive candidates and their causes? Sure, Meryl.
At best this is contrived ignorance, like Albert Speer saying that he never knew about the concentration camps because he didn’t want to know.
- I just read Ann Althouse’s reaction to Streep’s statement. Perfect:
“The cagiest part of this writing is the phrase “everybody knew.” If only one person didn’t know, then not everybody knew. So it’s easy to stand firmly on the trivial technicality that not everybody knew… especially since so many people had a personal interest in staying in the dark and not following up on the clues. But many people knew, and yet the matter was suppressed for many years. The “investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media” were neglectful, and the failure of everybody to know doesn’t overcome the inference of neglect. And, indeed, there is neglect in the not knowing in some cases, such as, perhaps, yours, Meryl Streep…You should have spoken out when it mattered. Before the bubble burst. Speak out about somebody else. The abuse of power is familiar, you say. All right, then. You there on the inside, Meryl, you raise your brave voice, if you have one. Otherwise, this after-the-fact statement is just an inadequate effort to cover your own ass and of a piece with the ignorance of the facts served your interest before the story hit the news.”
- Equally ridiculous, but perhaps this really is ignorance, was Streep’s claim that if everybody knew, the news media would have reported it. At the Weekly Standard, Lee Smith debunks that decisively:
Sharon Waxman, a former reporter at the Times, writes in The Wrap how she had the story on Weinstein in 2004—and then he bullied the Times into dropping it. Matt Damon and Russell Crowe even called her directly to get her to back off the story. And Miramax was a major advertiser. Her editor at the Times, Jonathan Landman, asked her why it mattered. After all, he told Waxman, “he’s not a publicly elected official.”
Manhattan’s district attorney knew, too. In 2015, Weinstein’s lawyer donated $10,000 to the campaign f Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance after he declined to file sexual assault charges against the producer. Given the number of stories that have circulated for so long, Weinstein must have spread millions around New York, Los Angeles, and Europe to pay off lawyers and buy silence, including the silence of his victims. But he had something else going for him, too. He knew his victims would be reluctant to go public because it might suggest that some of their success, their fame even, was a function of their inability to protect themselves from being humiliated by a man who set the bar for humiliating others at the precise level of his own self-loathing.
- So long and extensively had Weinstein been not merely a sexual harasser, but an unusually prolific and reckless one, that it is similarly incredible that powerful Democrats, many of whom are now rushing to donate the money they received from Weinstein to charity, didn’t know exactly the kind of man who was holding fundraisers for them. They knew, and they also trusted the news media not to embarrass them by publishing a story like the Times did during the election cycle.
We have learned, for example, that Anita Dunn, a top Obama campaign staffer, a confidant of Michelle Obama and former White House communications director, gave Weinstein damage control advice when the Times story hit. Long time Clinton scandal-suppressor Lanny Davis was also a fixer on Weinstein’s payroll.
From Chris Cilliza, reliable Democratic apologist at CNN:
it’s hard to see how Obama and the Clintons — Weinstein is a long time pal of Bill and Hillary — can avoid putting out statements condemning him for his behavior…But there’s more to this story than simply issuing statements condemning Weinstein or returning his now-tainted money. These paragraphs from the Times story gets to that broader point:
“In interviews, some of the former employees who said they had troubling experiences with Mr. Weinstein asked a common question: How could allegations repeating the same pattern — young women, a powerful male producer, even some of the same hotels — have accumulated for almost three decades?
“‘It wasn’t a secret to the inner circle,’ said Kathy DeClesis, Bob Weinstein’s assistant in the early 1990s. She supervised a young woman who left the company abruptly after an encounter with Harvey Weinstein and who later received a settlement, according to several former employees.”
Then there’s this from New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister: “I have been having conversations about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment for more than 17 years.”
It seems like Weinstein’s boorish behavior — to put it mildly — was an open secret in the circles he ran in. The prevailing sentiment when the New York Times published its piece was not “WOW!” but rather “Finally!”
That’s important. If everyone around Weinstein knew about his inappropriate conduct around women, why were so many Democratic politicians willing to pal around with him and/or accept his money?
We know why, don’t we?
Weinstein is an ethics corrupter, but he also had the advantage of living in two extraordinarily unethical cultures, show business and politics, protected by a third, the news media. In the end, the fact that there are sexual predators enabled in Hollywood is no surprise, and neither should be the revelation that all of the pious—and politically effective—indignation by Democrats over the alleged sexual misconduct of candidate Trump was pure hypocrisy—after all, there was Bill Clinton. Nonetheless, there are still many Americans who thought Hillary, the Democrats, Meryl and the Hollywood glitterati were sincere. That they care about woman’s issues, rather than just find it useful to pretend to care.
If they cared, Harvey Weinstein would have been exposed for what he was long ago, and many women would have been spare humiliation and abuse.