This is really a journalism ethics matter. On November 28, The New York Post announced that Time’s Up, the #MeToo inspired Hollywood organization, had misused and wasted its funds. Yesterday there was a follow-up piece, headlined, “The Sad tale of Time’s Up and Hollywood’s failed activism.”
Taken together, the two articles are contradictory, confusing and raise as many questions about the reporters’ competence as they do about Time’s Up. If there is anyone who can decipher this mess, please do. I have a headache.
Following the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the vigor of the resulting #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up organization was formally launched on January 1, 2018. At that year’s Golden Globes a few days later, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and others arrived on the red carpet with women’s rights activists in tow. Oprah Winfrey gave an impassioned speech on the broadcast, saying, “I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! . . . The time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again!” Her speech sparked talk of her running for President.
#MeToo has become a rueful joke with the blind endorsement of Joe Biden, sexual harasser and accused workplace sexual assault purveyor, by most of its most prominent advocates. Time’s Up, however, includes a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and has formal and legal obligations, not just ethical ones. The Time’s Up organization consists of the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc., a 501(c)6. There is also a Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
I defy anyone to make sense out of the two Post articles. To begin with, why does it only discuss the figures for 2018? 2020 is almost over; surely 2019 figures are available. Were they better? Aren’t the most recent years the most important ones? The articles say that in its first year of operation, Time’s Up spent just $312,000 of the more than $3 million it raised on sexual misconduct victims’ legal bills. It then points out that Charity watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator recommend that non-profits spend 75% of their revenues on their mission and no more than 25% on administration. “Time’s Up spent 38% on salaries alone,” it says. But Charity Navigator only “watches” charities, and those guidelines only apply to 501(c)3 organizations like the Times Up Foundation.
So it’s the break-down of the foundation’s ledger that the non-profit standards apply to. The Time’s Up Foundation only raised $361,651, according to tax filings. Meanwhile, the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund spent $1,747,635 to help “3,000 individuals” in its first six months in 2018, tax filings show. That doesn’t sound too bad.
I have no idea what’s happening, and no readers should have to work this hard to figure it out, if in fact that answer is buried somewhere in the two pieces. I’ve read both articles several times, and I teach this stuff. What it looks like to me is that the New York Post wants to smear Time’s Up, but couldn’t find a reporter who was fair, industrious and competent enough to clarify the relationship between its various components, and the editors allowed damning headlines to cover the resulting articles even though the substance didn’t back up the clickbait.
I’ll yield to no one in my contempt for Time’s Up, whose leadership and advocates all supported a proven sexual harasser and accused rapist for President, and never spoke a word in support of the woman who fits their mission’s description of a victim because she was accusing their favorite candidate. But the New York Post’s botched efforts to prove the organization’s corruption only demonstrates, once again, how nearly impossible it is to understand what’s happening when our news media is as both inept and biased.