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Film producer Harvey Weinstein ranks right down there in the gutter with Bill O'Reilly and President Donald Trump for the degrading way they have treated women and shrugged it off with boys-will-be-boys insolence. Whether liberal or conservative, influential politician or entertainment icon, a jerk's a jerk.
It's amazing yet sad how men in positions of incredible influence in modern America still seem immersed in a bygone era, treating women as playthings and forcing them to take it if they want to keep their jobs.
The true heroes in the Weinstein story are women such as actor Ashley Judd, who refused to remain silent when sexually harassed. She knew Weinstein could destroy her career, but she stood firm on principle. The cowards and hypocrites are those who have long known that Weinstein was a sexual predator and chose to remain silent because of the power he wielded in Hollywood.
Considering Weinstein's decades-long reputation, it seems unlikely that members of his Weinstein Company board, including brother Bob Weinstein, knew nothing about his predatory behaviour until Friday, when The New York Times began publishing stories about it. Only after the Times revealed that the company had paid financial settlements to eight women victimised by Harvey Weinstein did a third of the all-male board resign in protest. Late on Monday, the remaining board members fired him.
The list of hypocrites in the Weinstein saga is long. Consider Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who reportedly ordered the script of Saturday night's show scrubbed of material referring to the Weinstein scandal.
Late night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also held back, even though they came out blasting when the same focus was on O'Reilly, who until this year was the top-rated commentator on Fox News. O'Reilly's bullying and sexual harassment of female employees led to at least five out-of-court settlements totalling $US13million ($NZ18million).
Sharon Waxman, a former entertainment business reporter for The New York Times, writes that she tried to break the story in 2004 but was pressured to back off. Actors Matt Damon and Russell Crowe called her directly, Waxman says, adding that her editor minimised the story's importance because Weinstein wasn't an elected official.
Weinstein's influence goes far beyond entertainment. He has been a major donor to Democratic presidential campaigns, including those of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The issue is the abuse of power, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, to harass and coerce. Trump had never served in public office when he was recorded making comments about sexually abusing women.
Now that Weinstein is ousted, watch for prominent personalities in Hollywood and Washington to issue bold statements of condemnation. How convenient. The real badge of courage goes to those, like Judd, who refused to remain silent even when their careers were on the line. - St. Louis Post-Dispatch