The nauseating saga of Hollywood-publishing mogul Harvey Weinstein's sexual exploitation of women appears to be much worse than what was revealed in the original, groundbreaking New York Times story. (We can dispense with the "allegeds" here as Weinstein has admitted his depredations.)
You are probably wondering how such egregiously bad behavior could have been concealed so long. But it wasn't concealed at all, as Lee Smith reports in the new Weekly Standard:
But of 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 Russel 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.”
The Manhattan DA almost certainly knew, according to the story, but Weinstein's lawyer had given $10,000 to DA Cyrus Vance's campaign, a contribution made in the immediate aftermath of Vance's decision not to file sexual assault charges against Weinstein. So everybody who was anybody knew the sordid story of Weinstein's humiliation of women.
The media justification for not getting and publishing the Weinstein story is that, sure, everybody knew, but it was hard to nail down the facts in a way that could be published. Mostly, however, reporters know the story was gettable, even if many of Weinstein's victims would have refused to go on the record.
As for that reluctance, no star wants the public to entertain the notion that she began her climb to fame with acquiescence to sexual humiliation, and,added to that, Weinstein is a bully (we don't need "allegedly" here either). Moreover, members of the elite journalistic establishment were either beholden to Weinstein–or wanted to be beholden. Thus the almost inescapable conclusion is that the media establishment protected Weinstein. But none of this fully explains why the story, a story widely known in media circles, is coming out now.
Lee Smith has a convincing explanation: the Weinstein story is coming out now because the very media over which he had so much sway exists no longer. Smith writes:
It’s because the media industry that once protected him has collapsed. The magazines that used to publish the stories Miramax optioned can’t afford to pay for the kind of reporting and storytelling that translates into screenplays. They’re broke because Facebook and Google have swallowed all the digital advertising money that was supposed to save the press as print advertising continued to tank.
Look at Vanity Fair, basically the in-house Miramax organ that Tina failed to make Talk: Condé Nast demanded massive staff cuts from Graydon Carter and he quit. He knows they’re going to turn his aspirational bible into a blog, a fate likely shared by most (if not all) of the Condé Nast books.
Si Newhouse, magazine publishing’s last Medici, died last week, and who knows what will happen to Condé now. There are no more journalists; there are just bloggers scrounging for the crumbs Silicon Valley leaves them. Who’s going to make a movie out of a Vox column? So what does anyone in today’s media ecosystem owe Harvey Weinstein? And besides, it’s good story, right? “Downfall of a media Mogul.” Maybe there’s even a movie in it.
Interestingly, Smith speculates quite plausibly that, if Hillary Clinton had become president, Harvey Weinstein's open secret would have been safe. In making this claim, Smith refutes pro-Hillary journalist Rebecca Traister's self-serving claim that the Weinstein story is breaking now because of "raised consciousness." Smith writes:
It’s not about raised consciousness or else the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential campaign would not have been a year-long therapy session treating a repressed trauma victim with even its main slogan—“I’m with her”—referencing a muted plea for sympathy for a woman who’d been publicly shamed by a sexual predator.
Which brings us, finally, to the other reason the Weinstein story came out now: Because the court over which Bill Clinton once presided, a court in which Weinstein was one part jester, one part exchequer, and one part executioner, no longer exists.
A thought experiment: Would the Weinstein story have been published if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency? No, and not because he is a big Democratic fundraiser. It’s because if the story was published during the course of a Hillary Clinton presidency, it wouldn’t have really been about Harvey Weinstein. Harvey would have been seen as a proxy for the president’s husband and it would embarrassed the president, the first female president.
Bill Clinton offered get-out-of-jail-free cards to a whole army of sleazeballs, from Jeffrey Epstein to Harvey Weinstein to the foreign donors to the Clinton Global Initiative. The deal was simple: Pay up, genuflect, and get on with your existence. It was like a papacy selling indulgences, at the same time that everyone knew that the cardinals were up to no good.
The 2016 election demolished Clinton world once and for all, to be replaced by the cult of Obama, an austere sect designated by their tailored hair shirts with Nehru collars. “That is not who we are as Americans,” they chant, as Harvey Weinstein’s ashes are scattered in the wind.
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