Late last week, a piece in The New York Times revealed that Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein has a decades-long past of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein — who has since been fired — issued a short and less than mediocre apology that essentially excused his behavior due to the culture he “came of age” in and other such watered-down nonsense. To be sure, Weinstein’s behavior in the last three decades was all about reducing vulnerable, career-focused women to nothing but objects so he could take what he desired in exchange for advancement within an industry he dominated.
Such behavior is utterly despicable, and the reaction to the news has revealed much.
On one hand, you have some in the entertainment industry, which has long been a bastion of liberalism, hurrying to turn attention away from Weinstein. Rob Reiner deflected, focusing on Trump and his history of inappropriate deeds. Matt Damon and Russell Crowe allegedly called a reporter in 2004 to kill a story about Weinstein’s abuses. Damon has since denied the accusation, saying reports of Weinstein’s conduct make him “sick to my stomach.” Other A-listers contacted by news outlets have remained silent. “Ladies of Hollywood, your silence is deafening,” tweeted actor Rose McGowan, who appeared to indicated that she was assaulted by Weinstein.
On the other hand, there are some Trump supporters eager to highlight Weinstein as part of a larger Hollywood problem while at the same time working to deflect criticism away from their beloved president.
Both camps are engaged in sexual predator whatboutism. Excusing powerful men who prey on women is egregious whether supporting them helps your acting career in Hollywood or helps your party take over in Washington, D.C. It’s clear both sides have a morality problem.
Why not call out bad behavior, no matter whom it’s from?
The New York Times article is not a product of sudden discovery, as made clear by this excerpt from The Weekly Standard.
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.”
Unfortunately, too many believe that men like Weinstein — or Trump — are worth protecting because of the power they wield. They are not held to the same standards as the rest of us. In fact, they don’t seem to be held to any type of standard when it comes to reasonable moral conduct. A blind eye is turned.
Many in the Hollywood elite — arguably Trump’s most vocal foes — point to the president’s offensive past regarding women, including the infamous recording from his 2005 Access Hollywood appearance, as proof of his misogynistic tendencies and sexual predation. To be sure, Trump does not have anywhere approaching a good record on this front. Like others, I was (and still am) bothered by what we’ve learned about the president’s treatment of women.
It’s obvious that a person’s political leanings can quite often insulate them from just and swift censure after their private character is revealed. This is not a good look for those who accuse either Weinstein or Trump with little to no mention of the mess that is in their own house.
That the electorate voted Trump into office is no reason to excuse his past behavior. It also does not give predators like Weinstein a free pass. We should never accept bad behavior from an individual simply because some other prominent person with opposing politics is just as culpable.