It takes a disaster to get more attention in the media than President Trump. Hollywood A-lister Harvey Weinstein delivered just that – with his career and life in the eye of the storm this week.
By now, Weinstein has been accused of everything from sexual harassment to rape and then decades of coercion and intimidation to hide his alleged actions. Collateral damage has rippled through the company he helped build and into the rest of Hollywood – even hitting other celebrities like Ben Affleck, who was forced to apologize for groping a woman several years ago.
An enormous number of Hollywood celebrities have claimed they were sexually harassed by Weinstein or others in power. Even actors Terry Crews and James Van Der Beek complained about harassment.
The Weinstein chaos was set in motion by the excellent work of New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
Unfortunately, the revelations about Weinstein also exposed both Hollywood corruption and news media cooperation that has lasted many years. They showed the lengths that Hollywood PR people and the media have gone to hide bad or compromising stories about Weinstein over the years.
NBC led the pack, but even late-night comics were reluctant to call Weinstein out. And even The Washington Post had zero print coverage the day after the scandal broke. Former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer gleefully criticized the paper for this failure.
The media tolerance of or complicity in Weinstein’s mistreatment of women calls to mind how many thousands of times journalists have used the term “war on women” against Republicans. In fact, GQ is still using that term against the GOP. Shockingly, in a story that mentions Weinstein.
To be blunt, there are too many media fails this week to hit them all. So let’s hit the high (or low) points.
● For all that Kantor and Twohey deserve credit for by exposing the dark side of Hollywood, their own paper choked when it had the chance to report the story 13 years ago. Former Times reporter Sharon Waxman wrote a story in The Wrap headlined: "Harvey Weinstein’s Media Enablers’? The New York Times Is One of Them.” Waxman wrote that she investigated “oft-repeated allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein” in 2004. She said that she learned that the head of Weinstein’s film studio in Italy “had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.” Waxman wrote that she “also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein.” However, Waxman said “the story I reported never ran” because of “intense pressure from Weinstein.”
● NBC certainly humiliated itself. NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow couldn’t even get the network where he worked to run the story. CNN anchor Jake Tapper called out NBC’s “media complicity.” Farrow had to take his report to The New Yorker to get it published. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told him in an on-air interview, “NBC says that the story wasn’t publishable.” Farrow proved the network wrong.
● NBC failed at every level. Its newscast ignored the story. Its news department squelched it. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” the network’s anchor comedy show, didn’t even make one joke about Weinstein. The Huffington Post skewered NBC and deservedly so. "Becoming more and more clear that what happened at NBC is straight-up journalistic malpractice," it wrote, adding an awesome illustration of a chicken with the network’s famous peacock feathers. NBC’s “Today” co-host Matt Lauer shockingly gave the network credit, saying Farrow had “been working this story for a long time, both for NBC News and The New Yorker.”
● Actress Rose McGowan, named in the original Times piece, has now come out and said that Weinstein, “raped me.” Just hours before that, she had bashed Weinstein favorite actor Ben Affleck for allegedly lying about what he knew about Weinstein. Twitter actually suspended her account, though Twitter claimed it was because she tweeted a phone number. McGowan, who reportedly had a settlement with Weinstein, seemed to be enjoying a measure of justice despite the bizarre suspension.
● All three broadcast networks reported in 2015 that Weinstein had been accused of groping an Italian model. Then they promptly forgot it and spent two years treating Weinstein like it never happened. This included NBC “Today” co-host Kathie Lee Gifford telling on air how she became friends with Weinstein. Both ABC and NBC reported how first daughter Malia Obama landed an internship with the mogul. Neither network mentioned the allegations against him. But I suppose the Obamas are still perfect parents even though they let an accused sex harasser give an internship to their daughter.
2. NFL Can’t Stand Getting The Knee From Trump: The NFL and its players union both look like the pathetic Cleveland Browns against Trump’s anti-protest air attack. Ever since Trump sacked the protesting players and said they should be fired, the protesters have been fired up.
Only so have the fans and they outnumber the players thousands to one. This week found protest ally ESPN abandoning one of its own star players – Jemele Hill. The “SportsCenter” anchor had touched off a furor by calling Trump a “white supremacist.” ESPN didn’t even suspend her for that.
This week she commented on how Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones vowed to bench protesting players. “If you feel strongly about JJ's statement, boycott his advertisers,” she tweeted. Calling the president a “white supremacist” was OK to ESPN. But messing with advertisers was a bridge too far. The network suspended her for two weeks, annoying the social justice community. Another ESPN staffer, Michael Wilbon, called Jones’ attitude a “plantation mentality.”
That was only part of the league’s problem this week. Vice President Mike Pence attended a Colts game and walked out after the player protest. That set more media tongues wagging, especially at MSNBC. The “Morning Joe” team was all set to be annoyed and host Joe Scarborough called Pence’s actions, an “abuse of power!” NBC’s Kate Snow criticized it as another “divisive issue” for the Trump administration.
The result of this continued bad PR is the league making a new rule that says players should stand for the anthem. Both owners and the players association are planning to meet to come up with a strategy to keep from further harming their sport. And the broadcast networks are doing their part to hide the NFL’s collapse on the field. They gave 10 times more coverage to the reaction to Trump’s initial criticism of the league than the announcement that the NFL appears to be backing down.
3. The Media And the Giant Impeach: What do comedian Amy Schumer, Democrat mega-donor Tom Steyer and Washington Post Republican Jen Rubin have in common? All three were pushing some form of removing the president – either by impeachment or a 25th Amendment remedy.
And, because it’s anti-Trump, many in the media swallowed the argument to make the president look bad. Schumer urged Instagram followers to push “#25thamendment” for several reasons, including, “because we don’t want WW3 on our ovaries.” (That sounds painful.) Billionaire eco-nut Steyer sent a letter to top Democrats making it clear the 2018 election will be about Trump’s impeachment. And, while Rubin said she’s been against using the 25th Amendment, she sure opened the door to it in a column headlined: “When do we reach 25th Amendment territory?”
The “news” channels ate it up. MSNBC's Chris Matthews and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer were just two of the TV talking heads to talk about removing Trump from office. Matthews naturally blamed the GOP’s “unbelievable cowardice” for the idea not moving faster.
The 25th Amendment gives the Cabinet that power of removal if the president is unable to perform his duties. Liberals, who talked impeachment before Trump even took office, now see this as the latest in a long series of anti-Trump strategies.
4. Playing Nuclear Football: Nuclear weapons launched another media feeding frenzy this week, enough to make even diehard conservatives fondly remember the “No nukes” movement.
NBC fired the first shot, saying “Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military.” Trump called out the network as “Fake @NBCNews” in a tweet response that also compared NBC to CNN. Trump followed with an attack that freaked out the media world, asking, “at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?”
The result was more media mania, led by the Lord of Lies Brian Williams, claiming the U.S. was “the only nation on Earth to have set off nuclear weapons in anger.” Williams, who has manufactured enough of his own history, has now graduated into manufacturing U.S. history.
For all that liberals lament America’s use of the nuclear weapons, those two nukes ended a drawn-out and deadly war and set Japan on a path to become a free nation and saved American lives. That’s not an act of anger, it’s one of practicality.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof went nuclear on “Morning Joe,” aka Resistance HQ, and proceeded to contradict himself in dangerous ways. On one hand, he painted a picture of a terrifyingly dangerous North Korea: “Everywhere you go in Pyongyang, the capital, there are posters showing missiles striking the U.S. Capitol.” On the other, he depicted a nation the U.S. can’t stop from expanding its nuclear capacity and ability to strike the U.S. “I came back really feeling that we are not gonna be able to stop them,” he said.
Nowhere did he mention that the U.S. has followed his strategy of endless talk and that has gotten us in the fix we are in now. Kristof’s employer was so concerned that it ran an editorial calling for Congress to take away the president’s ability to use nuclear weapons in a first strike, effectively neutering America’s defense, As the anti-Trump paper put it: “He could unleash the apocalyptic force of the American nuclear arsenal by his word alone, and within minutes.” So could Obama, yet somehow no one in the media cared.
Hurray For Hollywood: While Tinseltown celebs like Julianne Moore are calling for new gun regulations, it’s important to see the entertainment industry for what it is – hypocritical. The week of the Las Vegas attack, four of the top five movies in the U.S. were incredibly violent – with more than 200 incidents of gun violence, along with another 377 incidents of other types of violence. Two of the movies – “American Assassin” and “Kingsman: Golden Circle” – assaulted the senses with so much bloodshed that it is challenging to tally all the violence. And automatic weapons that were part of the Vegas massacre figured prominently in three of the four films.
Nearly forgotten rapper Eminem (No, not these guys) is back and desperate to be relevant by being faux edgy – attacking Trump like almost every other media figure on Earth. He bashed Trump with rhymes so embarrassingly silly that he would lose “Epic Rap Battles of History” to J.R.R. Tolkien. Along with calling Trump “orange,” he gave the obligatory four-letter word salute to Trump fans.