Are the Media Complicit in Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Abuse?

The avalanche of accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein continued unabated this week as more women came out to accuse him of  sexual harassment, groping, and even rape. In hindsight it appears that the only people in Hollywood who didn’t know about Weinstein’s behavior were members of the media. Or worse…perhaps they did know but couldn’t bring themselves to report it.

The abuse by Weinstein was so well known in Hollywood that it even served as a joke by Seth MacFarlane on the 2013 Academy Awards  telecast. While McFarland describes the joke as “a hard swing in his [Weinstein’s] direction”, others are describing MacFarlane’s joke as just another example of not taking these allegations seriously. Here it is…you decide:

This kind of behavior is, sadly, not new. The infamous Hollywood “casting couch” has never been so clearly revealed to anyone who cares to look past the flimsy curtain. The sad reality is that men in positions of power have been able to prey on victims who are afraid to report the crimes.

What is new here is the scope and size of the offense, and the reach and influence of the perpetrator. Few media moguls are as big as Harvey Weinstein. According to a report by PBS, “Between his work at Miramax and The Weinstein Company, which he co-founded, Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Oscar nominations and secured 81 wins for films like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Sling Blade’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’”.

Weinstein’s clout was not just felt in Hollywood, but also New York (the center of the news media), and Washington D.C. A long time political donor to Democratic politicians, the Clintons and Obama counted on Weinstein to deliver both dollars and votes. Michelle Obama called Weinstein “a wonderful human being, and good friend” and the Obama’s daughter Malia worked as an intern in his office.

But what really has people scratching their heads is the official silence from news organizations. Why did it take so long for the story to break in The New Yorker? Decades after the fact, reporters are now telling stories of how their reporting on Weinstein was spiked by editors and publishers who didn’t want to offend Weinstein. Why would media outlets that take seriously the oath to “seek the truth no matter where it leads” turn away when the path leads to Weinstein’s door?

According to recent reports, the sexual assault allegations have exacted a toll. Weinstein was fired by his production company, his wife left him, political friends have denounced him, and he has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But for the many women who were harmed by Weinstein, this is only the beginning of justice being served.

Update: After posting this I ran across this article in the Weekly Standard. More food for thought.



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