The New York Times reported on October 5 that famed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is also a creep and a sexual predator. An article detailed “previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades” involving unwanted physical contact, sexual harassment, and in some cases blatant quid pro quo offers of career advancement in return for sex.
The following day the film studio of which he is co-chairman, The Weinstein Company, was said to be struggling with damage control. About one third of the board of directors resigned, and the remaining board hired a consultancy to investigate, and announced that Weinstein was taking an unpaid leave of absence.
Four board members, including the other co-chairman and Harvey’s brother, Bob Weinstein, issued a statement Friday saying “next steps will depend on Harvey’s therapeutic progress, the outcome of the Board’s independent investigation, and Harvey’s own personal decisions.”
Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein is in a place between remorse and denial. He acknowledges behavior that has “caused a lot of pain” but he contends The New York Times got a lot of the facts wrong, and he plans to sue.
On Sunday, October 8, the film studio went further than it had before and terminated its relationship with Weinstein outright.
Left Wing View
The left wing view of this has been “we hardly knew that guy” and the right-wing view has been, “they’re all the same.” That’s the very short version, at any rate.
The politicians who have received campaign donations from Weinstein are regularly to the left of the center of U.S. politics. The list includes (from the New York metropolitan area alone), three U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand. To wipe their hands clean, those three have announced that they will donate the amount of money they have received for this purpose from Weinstein to various women’s charities. Booker for example is contributing the $7,800 he received from Weinstein to the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Chris Cillizza, an editor at large for CNN, has written that in the social circles around Weinstein, his predatory actions have long been common knowledge. So (Cillizza asks), “why didn’t someone ever mention something to Obama, Clinton, Warren, or any of the other politicians or organizations that Weinstein lavished money on?”
In The New Republic, Jeet Heer discusses what may be the other side of the same connection: what is the appeal of (at least) center-left politics to a sexually exploitative sleazebag? Heer concludes that it is a matter of “virtue signaling.” Weinstein uses liberal causes “as a shield to deflect accusations of sexual predation, a publicly manipulative act which perfectly mirrors the private manipulations so extensively documented by the Times.”
After Weinstein was fired, the leftist “take” on this became the Trump/Weinstein contrast. Trump’s creepishness didn’t keep him from becoming President: Weinstein’s creepishness caused him to lose the company he had co-founded. So presumably something is right about standards in Hollywood after all.
Right Wing View
The right, as one might expect, has a different take. It holds, as Carmine Zozzora tweeted, that the relevant distinction is that President Donald Trump only “joked about pussy” with “pals,” whereas Harvey Weinstein (and others with whom he is bracketed into this discussion) go a good deal further than talk.
There is also a certain amount of blaming of the victims of Weinstein’s predatory behavior, on the ground that they should have come out with such allegations earlier.
As to Hollywood’s morals, the right directs its attention to those who haven’t yet denounced Weinstein, and to the long history of schmoozing on the part of a lot of the rich and connected. This attentiveness creates a populist tale of another “swamp” to drain – the western analog of the DC swamp about which we have all heard so much.
Brad Stager, of RedState, scores against the “vacant … hypocrisy” of Hollywood, for allowing Weinstein to carry on in this way for so long. But Stager also gives The New York Times, so often itself a whipping boy for the rightists, credit for its “daring” in this matter.