Weinstein's enablers at risk
A large swath of the citadel of progressive power – the major progressive media, donation-hungry politicians, and left-wing Hollywood celebrities – is implicated in the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Weinstein was able to intimidate, humiliate, and sexually exploit legions of women in Hollywood over the past decades because he had help in the form of knowing silence and much more.
Even the New York Times, which is reaping much credit for putting the story on the public agenda. Sharon Waxman, who formerly covered Hollywood for the Times, has gone public at The Wrap:
I applaud The New York Times and writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for getting the story in print. I'm sure it was a long and difficult road.
But I simply gagged when I read Jim Rutenberg's sanctimonious piece on Saturday about the "media enablers" who kept this story from the public for decades.
"Until now," he puffed, "no journalistic outfit had been able, or perhaps willing, to nail the details and hit publish."
That's right, Jim. No one – including The New York Times.
She goes on to recount how stories she wrote on Weinstein in 2004 were never published by the Times.
After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.
Matt Damon helped in a cover-up? How juicy does this get?
I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.
But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?
Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?
The Times' then-culture editor Jon Landman, now an editor-at-large for Bloomberg, thought the story was unimportant, asking me why it mattered.
"He's not a publicly elected official," he told me. I explained, to no avail, that a public company would certainly have a problem with a procurer on the payroll for hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the time, Disney told me they had no idea Lombardo existed.
A spokeswoman for the Times had no comment on Sunday.
How did no one at Disney know what he was doing?
At The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith writes on another set of dirty hands:
Manhattan's district attorney knew, too. In 2015, Weinstein's lawyer donated $10,000 to the campaign of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance after he declined to file sexual assault charges against the producer. Given the number of stories that have circulated for so long, Weinstein must have spread millions around New York, Los Angeles, and Europe to pay off lawyers and buy silence, including the silence of his victims.
Smith also focuses on the sadistic nature of Weinstein's behavior. He describes Weinstein as "a story about actresses, junior executives, or assistants who had been humiliated, maybe raped, and chose to remain quiet in exchange for money and/or a shot at fame."
The real issue, as [New York Magazine author Rebecca] Traister notes, was that "there were so many journalists on his payroll, working as consultants on movie projects, or as screenwriters, or for his magazine." Traister is referring to Talk, the magazine Weinstein started at Miramax with Tina Brown. The catchword was "synergy" – magazine articles, turned into books, turned into movies, a supply chain of entertainment and information that was going to put these media titans in the middle of everything and make them all richer.
Traister and I worked at Talk together in the late '90s. There were lots of talented journalists but it was still a mess. Outside of "synergy," there was no idea driving the magazine, and Tina's search for a vision was expensive. She spent lavishly on writers, art directors, photographers, and parties. Harvey got angry. Every time Tina went downtown to meet with him he screamed at her the whole time. He humiliated her. At least this was the story that went around the office every time she went down there, a story circulating through, and circulated by, several dozen journalists.
Or, to put it another way: More than 20 people in one magazine office alone all had the story about Harvey Weinstein's "mistreatment" of women.
No doubt, with so many dirty hands, compromised people want to make this story go away. Unfortunately for them, there is a perfect storm:
1. Sex + celebrities is a surefire topic for getting clicks or readers.
2. Lots of uncompromised journalists, like Waxman, itching for vindication after having been rebuffed.
3. Angry feminists. Thanks, ladies, for those hats and that rhetoric aimed at Trump.
4. President Trump and his Twitter account will not let the story die.
5. Lots of resentment toward Hollywood hypocrisy.
For cultural conservatives, this is the gift that keeps on giving.