In a much-praised article at The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith says he knows why the Harvey Weinstein story didn't break until now:
The real issue, as [New York magazine's Rebecca] Traister notes, was that “there were so many journalists on his payroll, working as consultants on movie projects, or as screenwriters, or for his magazine.” Traister is referring to Talk, the magazine Weinstein started at Miramax with Tina Brown. The catchword was “synergy”—magazine articles, turned into books, turned into movies, a supply chain of entertainment and information that was going to put these media titans in the middle of everything and make them all richer.
Traister and I worked at Talk together in the late ’90s. There were lots of talented journalists but it was still a mess. Outside of “synergy,” there was no idea driving the magazine, and Tina’s search for a vision was expensive. She spent lavishly on writers, art directors, photographers, and parties. Harvey got angry. Every time Tina went downtown to meet with him he screamed at her the whole time. He humiliated her. At least this was the story that went around the office every time she went down there, a story circulating through, and circulated by, several dozen journalists.
Or, to put it another way: More than 20 people in one magazine office alone all had the story about Harvey Weinstein’s “mistreatment” of women.
So why didn’t anyone write it? Not to take anything away from Jodi Kantor’s excellent New York Times piece, but the reality is that everyone had the story.
The reason no one wrote it is not because the press wanted to get Weinstein, but couldn’t prove the story. No, it’s because the press was protecting Weinstein.
We're reading The Weekly Standard, so of course the argument is: Big Democratic donor, friend of the Clintons -- of course no one would write this story up. But it's also: The guy had the ability to make a lot of journalists a lot of money, so no one wanted to get on his bad side. The implication is that this was a big cover-up, a mass moral failing of the liberal media.
Of course, there's a large portion of the media that has no love for the Clintons, regularly denigrates Hollywood, and claims to be more stalwart in the pursuit of truth than the mainstream press: the right-wing media. So why didn't anyone from the conservative side of journalism dig up this story and embarrass the big Democratic donor?
We all know the answer: because right-wing "journalists" don't actually practice journalism. What passes for journalism on the right is a nonstop succession of negative ads targeting Democrats and liberals, all made to look like news. Still, you'd think a Weinstein exposé would have been extremely effective anti-Democratic propaganda. But it would have required a level of reporting the right-wing press can't manage and, frankly, can't be bothered with.
While we're on the subject of offices full of newsgatherers who know sexual harassment is taking place because it's right under their noses -- what about Fox News? It's safe to say that far more than 20 people in the offices of Fox had the story about Roger Ailes's mistreatment of women (and Bill O'Reilly's, and Eric Bolling's) and never wrote it up, no matter where their careers may have taken them after their time at Fox. Did they fear Ailes and the other Fox harassers, as mainstream media people clearly feared Weinstein? Were they protecting Ailes and his fellow harassers? Were they lacking in the journalistic skill to get the story down and get it published?
Do we have to choose only one?
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog