The only surprise in the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal is how widely it is now being covered by the media. This is not a new story. The term “casting couch” has been part of the Hollywood lexicon since studios were producing black and white silent films. It originally referred to real couches in the offices of film executives that were used to close deals between powerful moguls and aspiring stars.
It was not always a one-way transaction with a male producer or director seducing the ambitious wannabe starlet. Many of those who found themselves between the couch and the executive were quite eager to use their bodies for professional advancement. It was not always a heterosexual affair, either. There are also stories of women executives playing the part of the seducer. But, these other tawdry tales of Tinsel Town remain open secrets among the Hollywood industry. No one on either coast wants the Weinstein story to shine the light on others if they can prevent it.
L’affaire Weinstein is different from typical Hollywood sex scandals in a number of ways. Most obvious is that he is being exposed (no pun intended) in a way that has not happened in the past. The protective social shield that has kept all the past open secrets more secret than open has been dropped. Suddenly the community of participants and protectors has risen in widespread public indignation and accusation.
It seems there is a never-ending list of those who suddenly conjured the “courage” to come forward to tell their decade-old stories of sexual seduction and abuse. There is no excusing or forgiving Weinstein for his gross criminal actions and abuse of the power of his position, but among all those women who have come forward, one cannot help but wonder how many actually engaged in sexual conduct and how many willingly and successfully advanced their careers in doing so. Because that does not fit into the simplistic narrative of male predator and female victim, that side of the story will not likely be explored.
Though a sex scandal in Hollywood is always sufficient to capture periodic public obsession, the Weinstein revelations impose an entirely new array of titillating tidbits involving another subject upon which we obsess -- politics.
Weinstein was a fat cat donor of the first tier. He spread millions of dollars to Democrat organizations and personalities. This made his indiscretions a political matter. There were all those millions of dollars that went into party and campaign coffers. Many candidates and party organizations rushed to announce their après coup rejection of the Weinstein donations. The most common process was to re-donate the funds to charitable organizations - often associated with women’s’ issues.
This was not a universal reaction, however. Many of the recipients are still pondering what to do with all that money. Some candidates are taking up a lateral pass by re-donating the funds to the Democratic National Committee – which creates another conundrum. What should the DNC do with the money they got directly from Weinstein and how does accepting the re-donated money resolve the optics?
The Weinstein scandal exposed more than his misbehavior. It laid open the hypocrisy of the media. The first problem for the Fourth Estate is the fact that they were complicit in protecting the open secret from wider exposure even though that was a violation of their ethical and professional duty. The open secret of Weinstein’s Caligula lifestyle was as well known in the newsrooms as it was on the movie set. However, he was an insider in the New York City cultural bubble. He was a regular at firms like Goldman Sachs, where he borrowed millions for his movie projects. He was a regular on the invitation lists of the political, social, business and media elite. He was one of theirs.
This may explain why NBC refused to run with the story months before it broke. Rather than produce negative news about Weinstein at the peacock station, they actually pulled back their reporter and kicked the story over to New Yorker Magazine.
For the ever Trump hating media, Weinstein also enabled them to reboot shopworn attacks on the President. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC claimed the Weinstein case was a product of “the Trump era” even though the accusations against Hollywood producer went back decades. While comparisons to Trump were ubiquitous, there was no mention of that other famous sexual predator, Bill Clinton – not even after Hillary belatedly, and through a spokesperson, issued a general statement of sympathy for women so abused.
Not drawing the comparison to Bill Clinton was an obvious example of media bias – protecting their own. Bill Clinton had a history of abuse and seduction of women – often using surrogates such as his Arkansas state troopers or staffers to invite women to “meet the governor.” The presidential campaign had a unique operation unkindly called “bimbo control” – an operation in which Hillary fully participated. The seduction of an intern in the White House violated every standard established by feminists for workplace behavior – but the media and the ladies of the left gave him a pass because he was one of theirs.
Unless the press is successful in shielding the Clintons, one should not be surprised if the Weinstein controversy renewed the focus on what has been reported as Bill Clinton’s “cozy relationship” with Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile sex offender billionaire. All those visits to the Florida mansion and trips around the world are dormant but not dead. The timing for Bill Clinton could not be worse in view of a book about that relationship hitting the shelves later this month.
This protection of progressives’ bad behavior is not new. Senator Ted Kennedy, whose reputation for aggressive womanizing was also an open secret, had the undying adoration of his Democrat colleagues even though he would likely have been found guilty of vehicular homicide or worse had the legal process not been politically aborted back in 1969.
When Chris Cuomo of CNN reported on the amounts of money Weinstein had given to various Democrat candidates, he did not include in the list the one contribution with which he should have been most familiar – that to his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The $110,000 taken in by the sibling was actually more than some of those listed in CNN Cuomo’s report. There was no announcement of that money being rejected and returned although that would seem to be inevitable.
The left’s anti-woman culture was also seen in the fawning and flattering obituaries for Hugh Hefner, a man who created a culture of female objectification and sexual submission. If not a sexual predator by legal definition (and hard to imagine he was not), Hef sure took advantage of women who saw sexually pleasing the publisher of Playboy as a road to fame and fortune. In many ways, the story of Weinstein, Clinton and Hefner are distinctions without much of a difference. Three sexually obsessed individuals who used the power of their positions to secure sexual gratification.
Weinstein was not only a major contributor to the Democratic Party, he was a personal friend of the party’s major personalities and leaders. He hung around with the Clintons, the Obamas and the Cuomos. Malia Obama even interned for Weinstein. In view of fact that Weinstein’s predilections were known throughout the office, it would be surprising if Malia had not at least heard gossip. And why has no one in the aggressive media asked her or her parents about the young lady’s experience at the Weinstein company?
If there is any overarching theme to this unfolding melodrama it is the sheer hypocrisy of the Hollywood and Big Apple entertainment and news elite. While these luminaries of the left pay lip service to women’s rights and vulnerabilities, they trade the own fame and fortune for silence when it comes to the transgressions within their cultural bubble. They even make insider jokes about Weinstein’s predatory practices, as did Academy Award host Seth McFarlane in 1913. He said his joke was because Jessica Barth’s confiding in him in 2011 about her run-in with Weinstein. Recently, McFarlane complimented Barth for “courageously coming forward to speak out” six years after she confided in McFarlane.
This is a story that is far from done. It has sex, celebrity, politics and big money – and we are only in the opening scene. Harvey Weinstein’s career as a movie maker may be over, but his role as a character in future movies is just beginning. That clicking sound you hear is thousands of Hollywood writers tapping out scripts on their computer keyboards. Weinstein’s next appearance at the Academy Awards show will most likely be as a character on the silver screen than one who perambulates down the red carpet.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.