Pravda-on-the-Hudson vs. Harvey Weinstein

 

When I first read of the supposed antics of Harvey Weinstein, I found myself in the position once assumed by Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca. Just as he was “shocked … shocked” to discover that there was gambling going on in Rick’s Café Américain, so I was completely taken aback at the suggestion that a Hollywood movie mogul, whom Meryl Streep once celebrated as a god, should have taken advantage of his position to bed a host of would-be starlets. Who, I asked myself, could have imagined such a thing?

The answer to that silly question is, of course, that no one who knows anything about Hollywood should be surprised at all. Producers and directors have been sampling the merchandise for more than a century, and much of the merchandise has been ready, willing, and able. Actors and actresses are not famous for their moral integrity; and, if to get ahead, they have to go ahead, they are generally prepared to do so. It is hard to believe Meryl Streep and Judi Dench when they claim that they were blissfully unaware of what everyone in Hollywood apparently knew. We live in an age of pious posturing.

If the stories now being told are true, Weinstein worked hard at the job. A former waitress at the Tribeca Grill, which is located in the building where Weinstein has his office, reports that he had a standard operating procedure:

When I was working as a waitress, I watched numerous times as a string of young women — some seemingly no older than 21 — entered the restaurant for long, flirty dinners with him, even though he was married with five children.

These women were all the same: vaguely European, always beautiful, stylishly dressed, and totally out of place next to someone like him…

The ritual for his rendezvous was very firm. Champagne, caviar, and an unspoken rule that Weinstein and his date not be disturbed. The pair would sit close, whispering and touching each other suggestively. After dining, Weinstein and a woman would often disappear for a while, exiting the restaurant through a side door.

A fellow server told me: “When a girl arrived waiting for Harvey, we all knew what was in store for her. After a little small talk and a sip of champagne, there would be an ‘office tour’ — usually well past working hours, after which the girl would return looking worse for wear and barely able to finish the glass.”

As her testimony suggests, there is one thing missing from the story as told in Pravda-on-the-Hudson: an acknowledgement that a fair number of the “victims” were complicit in the crime.

But that, too, is unsurprising. None of this is new, and Weinstein is said to have had quite a reputation. The only question worth asking is the one that Weinstein is asking himself: Why is Pravda going after him? And why now?

After all, the editors of that rag had the story in hand 13 years ago. Sharon Waxman worked at Pravda in those days, and she reports that she “nearly gagged” when she “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.’” For prominent among Weinstein’s “media enablers” were Waxman’s editors 13 years ago at Rutenberg’s paper.

Waxman claims to have had the goods on Weinstein. But, as she puts it, “The story I reported never ran.”

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly … and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.

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 story, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong…. 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.

What, we must ask, has changed? Did Weinstein declare for public office? Er, no. Has the media become more virtuous? That is the self-serving opinion being floated by the Associated Press, and you can believe it if you wish. Or could there be some other reason?

Weinstein offers us a clue. In his incoherent ramblings at a recent press conference, he displayed real fury, intimating that he had been betrayed, asserting that he had an arrangement with Pravda that the editors of that rag did not honor, and threatening a lawsuit. Then, he added,

I am going to need to channel that anger so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I’m going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.

I would suggest that Pravda spiked Sharon Waxman’s story because Weinstein was a member in very good standing of the left-liberal political establishment and had a longstanding understanding with the owners and editors of that rag. After all, family-owned newspapers rarely do the dirty to a close friend of the family – which is why Weinstein was shocked when Pravda did him in and why he instinctively tried to shield himself by boasting of his “progressive” commitments. It had worked for Bill Clinton, he presumably thought. Maybe it can work for me.

But, of course, that was then, and this is now – which requires me to rephrase the question I posed: Why is Pravda-on-the-Hudson now out to get one of its own? What has changed?

The answer that I find most persuasive is suggested by the editorial published by Pravda on Friday, which was entitled “Harvey Weinstein’s Money Should Not Buy Democrats’ Silence.” In that piece, the editors mention the extent of Weinstein’s donations to the party, singling out for special attention Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then, after rehearsing Weinstein’s supposed infractions, the editors add:

Tales of Mr. Weinstein’s offenses were widely shared in Hollywood but not publicly discussed. Despite years of fund-raisers with Hollywood celebrities, those who took his donations may have never heard the stories. But they have now.

A number of members of Congress have pledged to give all contributions they received from Mr. Weinstein to charity, including to organizations that assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. There has been no comment from Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton, who condemned Donald Trump for boasting of sexual assault on the “Access Hollywood” tape. These Democratic leaders, admired by many young women and men, should make clear that Mr. Weinstein also deserves condemnation. If such powerful leaders take the money and stay mum, who will speak for women like Mr. Weinstein’s accusers?

There is, I would suggest, more to the attack on Harvey Weinstein than meets the eye. There is a civil war going on today in the Democratic Party, and both Barack Obama and the Clintons are being denounced by the hard left, which may well take over the party. Pravda has now taken sides in that war. To attack Weinstein is to attack the wing of the party that he so long supported. At best, they suppose, he was a “useful idiot,” and he can now be dispensed with.

Anyone who believes the pious pronouncements now found in Pravda concerning the abuse of women should pause for a moment to reconsider. As was acknowledged in the story that newspaper published, there is nothing of substance related therein that was not widely known long, long ago. It has long been in the power of the Timesmen to put an end to the gross conduct they now attribute to Harvey Weinstein. But they did not care, and I doubt that they care much now. They protected him until they had another motive for letting him have it.

Published in Entertainment
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There are 80 comments.

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  1. Member

    I think “what changed” is described in this piece by Lee Smith at the Weekly Standard.

    That’s why the story about Harvey Weinstein finally broke now. It’s because the media industry that once protected him has collapsed. The magazines that used to publish the stories Miramax optioned can’t afford to pay for the kind of reporting and storytelling that translates into screenplays. They’re broke because Facebook and Google have swallowed all the digital advertising money that was supposed to save the press as print advertising continued to tank.

    . . . There are no more journalists; there are just bloggers scrounging for the crumbs Silicon Valley leaves them. Who’s going to make a movie out of a Vox column? So what does anyone in today’s media ecosystem owe Harvey Weinstein?

    Rebecca Traister says the stories are coming out now because “our consciousness has been raised.” Between Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump, argues Traister, people are now accustomed to speaking and hearing the truth about famous, sexually abusive men.

    This is wrong. It has nothing to do with “raised consciousness”—or else she wouldn’t have left off that list the one name obviously missing. It’s not about raised consciousness or else the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential campaign would not have been a year-long therapy session treating a repressed trauma victim with even its main slogan—“I’m with her”—referencing a muted plea for sympathy for a woman who’d been publicly shamed by a sexual predator.

    Which brings us, finally, to the other reason the Weinstein story came out now: Because the court over which Bill Clinton once presided, a court in which Weinstein was one part jester, one part exchequer, and one part executioner, no longer exists.

    A thought experiment: Would the Weinstein story have been published if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency? No, and not because he is a big Democratic fundraiser. It’s because if the story was published during the course of a Hillary Clinton presidency, it wouldn’t have really been about Harvey Weinstein. Harvey would have been seen as a proxy for the president’s husband and it would have embarrassed the president, the first female president.

    Bill Clinton offered get-out-of-jail-free cards to a whole army of sleazeballs, from Jeffrey Epstein to Harvey Weinstein to the foreign donors to the Clinton Global Initiative. The deal was simple: Pay up, genuflect, and get on with your existence. It was like a papacy selling indulgences, at the same time that everyone knew that the cardinals were up to no good. The 2016 election demolished Clinton world once and for all, to be replaced by the cult of Obama, an austere sect designated by their tailored hair shirts with Nehru collars. “That is not who we are as Americans,” they chant, as Harvey Weinstein’s ashes are scattered in the wind.

    • #1
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm
    • 19 likes
  2. Member

    ^ Or, as I see it, the Democratic Power Base that protected predators like Weinstein, Clinton, et al, has fractured, crumbled, and its various factions are at war with each other, trying to grab whatever little power and money remains. (Dignity slipped from their grasp long ago.)

    (By the way, this is also a picture of what the Republican Power Base will look like unless they can get their act together soon.)

    For us normals, it’s time to pop the popcorn, sit back, and watch the train wreck.

    • #2
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm
    • 12 likes
  3. Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    ^ Or, as I see it, the Democratic Power Base that protected predators like Weinstein, Clinton, et al, has fractured, crumbled, and its various factions are at war with each other, trying to grab whatever little power and money remains. (Dignity slipped from their grasp long ago.)

    (By the way, this is also a picture of what the Republican Power Base will look like unless they can get their act together soon.)

    For us normals, it’s time to pop the popcorn, sit back, and watch the train wreck.

    I keep telling people, Donald Trump is a sign of Divine Judgment. This is just another manifestation of it. And yes, that judgment is going to land on me in time -but in the interim, watching it fall on the Clinton Court is somewhat satisfying.

    • #3
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm
    • 8 likes
  4. Member

    Yes, it is a civil war in the democrat party. No more Clinton or 0bama. We’re pure!

    I’m calling out you … Hillary and 0bama … feel the Bern!

    • #4
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm
    • 4 likes
  5. Member

    Nice article and you’re darn right this has to do with a rejection of Clinton democrats.

    No surprise at all the Times covered up for a deviant when he suited their political needs. They are morally bankrupt as well.

    Matt Damon and Russel Crowe are partly guilty for all the victimized women from 2004 and on.

    • #5
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm
    • 17 likes
  6. Thatcher

    Paul,

    The Party of No Shame has at long last experienced a micro-second of shame. Not to worry, in a New York minute, they’ll be over it. For the rest of us, this should be the ultimate lesson that virtue-signaling does not possess any virtue.

    I couldn’t have happened to a nastier nicer guy.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm
    • 4 likes
  7. Member

    He’ll never work in that town again. Maybe.

    • #7
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:47 pm
    • 7 likes
  8. Member

    The New York/Washington/Hollywood power structure turned on Normals a long time ago. But they hid their contempt behind a thin curtain of civility. In the Obama era, the curtain frayed dangerously. Now, in the Trump era, it unraveled completely, and their comtempt for the Normals is out and brazen.

    And the Normals are having none of it. We know that our numbers are greater. We know that ultimately the New York/Washington/Hollywood power structure only survives if we finance it. And more and more, we’re not.

    • #8
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm
    • 5 likes
  9. Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    He’ll never work in that town again. Maybe.

    Nice.

    • #9
    • October 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm
    • 4 likes
  10. Member

    Who’s deplorable now?

    • #10
    • October 9, 2017 at 2:06 pm
    • 12 likes
  11. Member

    Harvey should “Put some ice on it”. Because he sure got raped. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…

    • #11
    • October 9, 2017 at 2:06 pm
    • 2 likes
  12. Member

    The argument, such as it is, excusing behavior like Weinststein’s, runs along the following lines. The rules shouldn’t apply to people who make–or in the case of Weinstein–underwrite, art. Listening to other actors and directors talk about the alleged or actual crimes of people like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, it’s pretty clear that’s what they mean when they talk around it. Artists should be exempted from the requirements of our petty bourgeois values, because artists make Art. And that transcends your petty morality. If I had to guess, I’d imagine that’s why Lorne would protect Harvey Weinstein and not Donald Trump: the former is in his industry and helps to make Art, or at least art, while Trump does not.

    [Edited to remove a comment that was intended for another thread. Brain not work so good today.]

    • #12
    • October 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    • 9 likes
  13. Member

    So it’s the Puritan Left against the Libertine Left? If the Puritans win, will they give up on drug legalization and baby-killing? Just wondering…

    • #13
    • October 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm
    • 2 likes
  14. Thatcher

    America was a finer nation when show people couldn’t find rooms in a decent hotel or boarding house. Plato had them pegged millennia back.

    • #14
    • October 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm
    • 5 likes
  15. Member

    Thomas Anger (View Comment):
    So it’s the Puritan Left against the Libertine Left? If the Puritans win, will they give up on drug legalization and baby-killing? Just wondering…

    I doubt it. In the Scarlet Letter, I frequently wondered if Hester’s biggest sin was in getting knocked up and having a baby. She publicized the ugly underbelly of a sin that wasn’t supposed to exist, but did anyway.

    Greater sin in exposure than in the actual sin. That’s my takeaway it, anyway.

    • #15
    • October 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm
    • Like
  16. Member

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    I think “what changed” is described in this piece by Lee Smith at the Weekly Standard.

    Scott Johnson at PowerLine titles his post on this story appropriately:

    The Human Stain

    • #16
    • October 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Thatcher

    Harvey Weinstein: Polanski has served his time and must be freed

    It’s easier to live up to your standards if you keep them low enough.

    • #17
    • October 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm
    • 7 likes
  18. Member

    Fans of the British comedy Spaced would recognize Jessica Hynes, but not many other folk would. She’s pretty hilarious, and was great in other British comedies like Twenty Twelve (a satire about the Olympics) and W1A (a satire about the BBC itself).

    So, why isn’t she more well-known?

    Allegedly, it’s because she refused to play Harvey Weinstein’s game:

    http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/hollywood-gushing-about-ashley-judds-bravery-dont-forgot-about-jessica-hynes

    • #18
    • October 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm
    • 2 likes
  19. Member

    Trumps remarks to Bush now just seem deeply cynical but true. To paraphrase: when you have the power to get them or give them the thing they want, certain people will let you get away with anything.

    As for Meryl Streep, I won’t watch a movie she’s in. She defended a man who raped a 13 year old child. (Her attitude: how could the rights and life of just any uncared for urchin possibly matter more than a great director’s talent.) What a pompous, hypocritical, nasty old….class supremacist?…. she is. Who’s surprised Streep wouldn’t care about the way Weinstein exploited and intimidated nobodies or surprised that she’d blandly lie about not knowing?

    As for why everyone is now turning on Weinstein (well, distancing themselves from him or not defending him) could it be it got around that someone on the right was going to write, in a credible, attention-grabbing way, about Weinstein and the silence of the left? Maybe the NYT figured they’d look better, or at least less bad, if they wrote about him first.

    • #19
    • October 9, 2017 at 9:08 pm
    • 1 like
  20. Member

    When the Tiger Woods story emerged, Limbaugh mentioned that a lot of people in the sports media had to know about his affairs, but they kept quiet since Tiger was good for the business. What embarrassing stories about Obama or HRC has the media not told us?

    • #20
    • October 9, 2017 at 9:43 pm
    • 4 likes
  21. Member

    I grew up in a different world. Altar boy, learned the Latin necessary for both the Ordinary Rite, and the Extraordinary Rite. I do remember my father telling me to do nothing that I would be ashamed to tell the nuns about. We have lost our way.

    • #21
    • October 9, 2017 at 10:37 pm
    • 7 likes
  22. Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    I grew up in a different world. Altar boy, learned the Latin necessary for both the Ordinary Rite, and the Extraordinary Rite. I do remember my father telling me to do nothing that I would be ashamed to tell the nuns about. We have lost our way.

    When you were young, big-name Hollywood producers and directors were doing what Weinstein is said to have done — and everyone in Hollywood knew about it. The public did not.

    • #22
    • October 10, 2017 at 4:37 am
    • 4 likes
  23. Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Ansonia (View Comment):
    Trumps remarks to Bush now just seem deeply cynical but true. To paraphrase: when you have the power to get them or give them the thing they want, certain people will let you get away with anything.

    As for Meryl Streep, I won’t watch a movie she’s in. She defended a man who raped a 13 year old child. (Her attitude: how could the rights and life of just any uncared for urchin possibly matter more than a great director’s talent.) What a pompous, hypocritical, nasty old….class supremacist?…. she is. Who’s surprised Streep wouldn’t care about the way Weinstein exploited and intimidated nobodies or surprised that she’d blandly lie about not knowing?

    As for why everyone is now turning on Weinstein (well, distancing themselves from him or not defending him) could it be it got around that someone on the right was going to write, in a credible, attention-grabbing way, about Weinstein and the story of the silence of the left? Maybe the NYT figured they’d look better, or at least less bad, if they wrote about him first.

    Meryl Streep was a graduate student at Yale when I was also a grad student there. My roommate, who was in the drama school, knew her well. I could easily have met her but didn’t. I was busy with my own work. I saw her many times on stage (with Sigourney Weaver who was also there). She was distinguished by obvious ability and intelligence. Everyone knew that she would be a star. Her descent into the sort of pretentiousness that you point to is sad to see. Her claim that she knew nothing is absurd. Weinstein was notorious, and in Hollywood everyone gossips. Streep is just another poseur.

    • #23
    • October 10, 2017 at 4:45 am
    • 3 likes
  24. Member

    This is too funny. It reminds me of the priest-abuse scandal. There had been altar-boy jokes circulating forever; just like there were “casting couch” jokes. Everybody knew, okay? And now, suddenly it’s so shocking that wannabe starlets traded sexual favors for a chance at the bright lights? That was a trope already well-established by the 1940s.

    From what I’ve read just in this post about Weinstein, I hate the guy! But not because he helped himself to some of the low-hanging fruit. He had an appetite. Don’t we all? What makes him uniquely hateful is his rôle in propagandizing the American public, his hatred of the Second Amendment, his threat to use his vast power ( and it is, or was, vast) to reverse the results of our election.

    • #24
    • October 10, 2017 at 5:14 am
    • 3 likes
  25. Member

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    What embarrassing stories about Obama or HRC has the media not told us?

    Still haven’t seen that Khalidi tape, have we?

    As for Hillary, I really have to wonder why they kept up the lie about the Benghazi attack being due to a YouTube video for 5 weeks, even though it had been verified just a day or two later that the video had nothing to do with it. It’s like they believed that if they told the lie enough times, the lie would override the truth, somehow. Or if they could just ignore it long enough, then it would settle into the realm of “that’s what crazy people say.”

    But the power structure that kept these lies afloat is falling to bits.

    • #25
    • October 10, 2017 at 6:47 am
    • 3 likes
  26. Member

    I think Lee Smith has an interesting perspective in viewing the crack-up of the left as the results of the Obama Cult replacing the Clinton Crime Syndicate. I hadn’t given that a lot of thought, but consider: Obama’s approach was to create or highlight all the divisions in American society, split us all up into various identity groups, and then stitch together enough of a coalition of those groups to tilt the vote in his favor. Although he divided everyone, he gave these groups the same goal: get him elected, then re-elected.

    The Clinton approach depended on those groups either once again uniting for a common cause — get her elected — or somehow giving up their identities and unifying again under a big tent.

    The first was not going to happen. If the Democrats ever want to win again, the second thing — giving up identity politics and reuniting under one banner — must happen, but it won’t.

    But as to this topic, the Clinton Crime Syndicate’s approach was that everyone kept mum while palms were quietly greased. The Obama Cult’s approach is one of radicalism. Keeping quiet is the antithesis of that.

    • #26
    • October 10, 2017 at 6:59 am
    • 2 likes
  27. Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    CNN has now weighed in against Obama and the Clintons, who have not yet spoken up.

    • #27
    • October 10, 2017 at 7:08 am
    • 1 like
  28. Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    The late-night hosts are now piling on.

    • #28
    • October 10, 2017 at 7:11 am
    • 2 likes
  29. Member

    The original New York Times report briefly mentioned that Weinstein “employed Malia Obama, the oldest daughter of former President Barack Obama, as an intern this year.

    Given what we know about how Weinstein treated young women, that just gives me the heebie jeebies.

    My first thought was: “I hope they made her quit that job.”

    My second thought was: “If this was such an open secret, why did they even her take that job?”

    • #29
    • October 10, 2017 at 7:28 am
    • 2 likes
  30. Inactive

    What about the theory that his recent full and public support of Israel is reason for the expose. And his attempt to do a movie about the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

    • #30
    • October 10, 2017 at 7:35 am
    • 1 like
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