Weinstein Scandal Gives Rise to Some Pretty Bad Public Statements
The big crisis of the past week is undoubtedly the ongoing situation with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The exposé ricocheted wildly and caused many statements to be issued by various parties with varying interests. Alas, they have mostly been bad (defensive, too long) and have intensified an already hot story, showing the importance of better thinking in this area.
The New York Times reported Oct. 5 that allegations of sexual harassment and even sexual assault have surrounded Weinstein for decades and that he has reached at least eight settlements with women. The paper also posted Weinstein’s strange, 408-word statement in response.
While we’re against overly lawyered messages, this one is unbridled. Weinstein (pictured) starts by talking about how he came of age in the 1960s and 1970s when standards were supposedly different. He apologizes for his behavior toward staff and says he’s been in therapy and also working with feminist lawyer Lisa Bloom. He apparently misquotes Jay Z. He says he will take a leave of absence and spend some of that time fighting the National Rifle Association (this was rightfully criticized as trying to change the subject).
Because attorney Bloom usually represents sex-harassment victims, critics howled that she was helping an alleged perpetrator (to add to the intrigue: Weinstein optioned a book Bloom wrote). So the lawyer issued her own statement, weighing in at 381 words. She had been working with Weinstein and encouraging his therapy, she said, which only infuriated others because she seemed to be excusing him along the lines of his statement. “He is an old dinosaur learning new ways,” she wrote — a line that was picked up by many media outlets.
The heat, including accusations that Bloom had planned to undermine the women accusing Weinstein, got to be too much, and in a terse tweet two days later she announced she resigned from counseling him.
The day after the Times story appeared, the Weinstein Co.’s board was forced to comment (285 words). The statement said the company had hired a law firm for an independent investigation. “We strongly endorse Harvey Weinstein’s already announced decision to take an indefinite leave of absence from the company,” it wrote.
More disturbing stories, including in HuffPost, kept coming about Weinstein’s behavior toward women, and on Oct. 7 the board fired him. When The New Yorker published its own story detailing further allegations, Weinstein issued a much more sober statement through a spokesperson that denied he ever engaged in “non-consensual sex.”
Given that some of the allegations rise to the level of rape, Weinstein faces potential criminal liability. The New Yorker revealed that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in 2015 had declined to bring a criminal case against Weinstein even after his alleged victim wore a wire. That brought criticism raining down on DA Cyrus Vance, forcing his office to issue a statement: “While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent.”
Another group affected by the story: Hollywood. Because Weinstein is a major Democratic contributor, pressure was put on movie stars he’d worked with to condemn him and his actions as so many had condemned conservative Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, who were fired for similar transgressions. The press noted that many at first were silent, but the condemnations, including from Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, eventually came.
Finally, much was made about the fact that Weinstein donee Hillary Clinton had not commented. Finally, she did. Her complete statement, tweeted by a spokesperson, was, “I was shocked and appalled by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The behavior described by women coming forward cannot be tolerated. Their courage and the support of others is critical in helping to stop this kind of behavior.”
CNN’s headline: “It Took Hillary Clinton Five Days to Issue This Statement About Harvey Weinstein.”
Photo Credit: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock
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