It should be a given that bad behavior knows no party, and neither does hypocrisy. But in a time when more and more Americans define their political adversaries as not just people with whom they disagree, but people they want nothing to do with, it seems worth noting that after decades of settled lawsuits and off-the-record accounts of the powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein routinely mistreating women and other humans, he finally seems to have been exposed as a Democratic Roger Ailes.
Last year, we learned that the then-Fox News chief, who died in May, ran a news outlet built on excoriating Democrats for sexual misbehavior even as he was accused by some two dozen subordinates of promising advancement if they had sex with him, and professional oblivion if they did not. Through his feminist lawyer, Susan Estrich, Ailes denied it all.
Now, from a long New York Times piece, we learn that Weinstein allegedly got away with similarly abusing women, also over several decades, and also while enjoying the gratitude of the politically like-minded. Weinstein is a big supporter of women’s rights, you see, and also has a feminist lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who says “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”
A generous Democratic donor, Weinstein marched with all those women in protest of President Donald Trump’s throwback views on women. His company distributed the documentary about campus sexual assault, “The Hunting Ground,” and helped endow a chair at Rutgers University in Gloria Steinem’s name.
Yet we have trouble believing that his old friend Hillary Clinton, for whom he hosted a 2016 fundraiser, was unaware of his reputation as a chronic abuser. The same is true of Barack Obama, whose daughter Malia worked for Weinstein as an intern. And this, this, is why many conservatives have trouble taking feminist concerns about sexual harassment altogether seriously; we can’t look the other way when it comes to those abusive men who pretend to agree with us.
Weinstein is awfully sorry: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain.” Yet he is suing the Times anyway because they only gave him 48 hours to respond to the accusations. (Two days is enough time to answer, though perhaps not enough time to get those on the record to recant.) Oh, and he’s going to put all his energy into taking on the NRA.
We look forward to the day when the answer to every complaint about this kind of abuse of power isn’t to point at some other abuser across the aisle. (Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, pro-life conservative, was a hypocrite who encouraged his mistress to get an abortion? OK, but what about that feminist Bill Clinton?) There is no such thing as someone who’s “a pig, but our pig.” And from Washington to Hollywood and all points in between, we’ve got to stop pretending otherwise.