The Harvey Weinstein Scandal is Revealing the Hypocrisy of a Nation
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones
One of Hollywood’s open secrets just got a lot more open and a lot less secret.
Stories of sexual harassment and assault which started with actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd have expanded into a mushroom cloud of accusations from some of the entertainment industry’s most well-known leading ladies, revealing that Harvey Weinstein, film production mogul and one of Tinseltown’s most powerful gatekeepers, has allegedly been using his position to lure a steady stream of young women to hotel rooms, closed-door offices, and deserted restaurants in order to extract sexual favors from them.
The scandal has served not only to out Weinstein himself, but to underscore the complicity of an industry full of players who have demonstrated that they will look the other way while women are victimized because they cannot afford to fall from the good graces of a man who pulls so many strings in Hollywood. Lee Smith wrote in the Weekly Standard:
[O]f course people knew about Harvey Weinstein. Like the New York Times, for instance. 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. …
The reason no one wrote it is not because the press wanted to get Weinstein, but couldn’t prove the story. No, it’s because the press was protecting Weinstein. Why wouldn’t they? He made terrific movies and he was a big mover in Democratic party politics, raising millions for local and national campaigns, including the Clintons.
Ben Affleck became one of the most high-profile casualties of the Weinstein scandal after he tweeted out a long-faced reproof of the very producer who helped him rise to stardom in the late ‘90s. Affleck expressed that he was “saddened and angry,” and mused that he found himself “asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others,” only to be blasted by former co-star and Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, who claimed that she told Affleck about her experience when it happened, and that Affleck had merely said he “told him to stop doing that.” Affleck suffered further embarrassment and eventually had to apologize when actress Hilarie Burton reminded him of the time that he himself had groped her during a TV segment they did together in the early 2000s.
For many social conservatives, this indictment of the Hollywood set, who have prominently allied themselves with left-wing causes and politicians and preached a social justice gospel from the bully pulpit of a red-carpeted Oscars stage, is almost cathartic in its irony.
Harvey Weinstein’s company simultaneously funding a documentary on campus rape and making pay-outs to Weinstein victims for their silence. Hillary Clinton, the would-be first female president, receiving campaign contributions and support from a man who treated Hollywood’s new talent pool like his own private harem. Michelle Obama, who recently harangued right-wing women for “voting against their own voice” by not supporting Hillary Clinton, sending her own daughter off to intern at a company that was shielding and enabling the sexual predator whose name it carries. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
I am as repulsed by Harvey Weinstein and everything he stands for as anyone, but after last year, I can no longer pretend that feigning ignorance when it comes to the repugnant attitudes and actions of wealthy, powerful men is a game that only the left is willing to play.
I was given a fresh reminder on Friday morning, as I watched footage of President Donald Trump speaking at the annual Values Voters Summit. After being introduced by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins as “a leader who has courage and conviction,” Trump spoke to a mostly-Christian audience of “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values” and how “we believe in strong families and safe communities,” not forgetting to insert the ever-popular applause line: “we’re saying Merry Christmas again.”
For the third year in a row — in 2015 as a contender for the Republican nomination, in 2016 as the Republican nominee, and finally this year as president — Donald Trump has been welcomed into the fold at the summit, which features some of the most prestigious names in the world of religious, and specifically evangelical, political activism. Although in ’15 and to a lesser extent in ’16, Trump seemed like an awkward addition to the party, as Susan Milligan said in U.S. News:
[T]his year, President Trump sounded like he was at home. The thrice-married former casino owner is not a natural fit for the Values Voter crowd. Yet on Friday, he won several standing ovations and fawning accolades from a group that, unlike other parts of the Republican base, has been seeing some of its agenda items enacted by the Trump administration.
Social conservatives are quick to throw stones at the hypocrisy of Weinstein, the Clintons and the Obamas, but they are doing so from a glass house that they built with their own hands, and like Ben Affleck, their sanctimony may end in deserved embarrassment. Why should we be incredulous that left-wing politicians would pretend not to know about the “open secret” of Weinstein’s escapades, when one short year ago Republicans — many of them evangelical “values voters” — were more than willing to believe that all 13 of the women who came forward last fall accusing Trump of various acts of sexual harassment and assault were lying, even in light of the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged to Billy Bush about kissing and grabbing women by the genitals, stating that, “when you’re a star, they let you do it…you can do anything”?
“Values voters” made a choice to accept Trump’s dismissal of his comments as “locker room talk.” They made a choice not to give any credibility to the reports of beauty pageant contestants as young as 15 who claimed that Trump, the then-owner of the Miss America pageant, walked into their dressing room while they were undressed, even though Trump talked of his habit of doing so in a taped conversation with Howard Stern, saying:
You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.
They chose to ignore his long association with convicted sex offender Jeff Epstein, whose infamous sex parties have been the stuff of lurid Hollywood legend for years. They chose to believe that every single woman who accused Trump of everything from groping to actual rape was lying — for attention, for money, or for political reasons — while interpreting his own recorded statements in a beyond-charitable light, being quick to forgive anything that couldn’t be denied.
Actress-turned-director Sarah Polley recently wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times:
Harvey Weinstein may be the central-casting version of a Hollywood predator, but he was just one festering pustule in a diseased industry.
This is Donald Trump’s world.
1996 was a very good year for abusers of women and childrenarcdigital.media
Weinstein and Trump are both veterans of an entertainment industry that social conservatives have long denounced for its culture of decadence and behind-closed-doors sexual transactions. In other words: they both fit the stereotype of the kind of man who feels entitled by his money, position, and power to treat women as sexual objects at his disposal. The plausibility factor is not lesser or greater for either of them. They have both been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women. They have both denied the allegations. One of them has gotten away with being seen as a champion of women for decades, but he’s paying the piper now. The other is sitting in the Oval Office as I write this — and social conservatives put him there.
Like the actors and actresses who kept silent on Weinstein to protect their careers, like the politicians who ignored the rumors as long as the cash was flowing into their campaign coffers, many social conservatives made a choice to rationalize, deny, or forgive Trump’s shortcomings — both the sexual allegations and his own disgusting boasts — because he had something they needed. They needed that Supreme Court seat. They needed a “protector of the faith.” They needed a fighter. They needed a winner.
As for Trump’s accusers, whom the right found so easy to dismiss? As Leslie Loftis said to me, they are “the broken eggs to make the omelette.”