A piece by Lee Smith at The Weekly Standard is getting a lot of praise online today. As I read the piece, his main contention appears to be that journalists knew about Weinstein all along — and the issue was not lack of proof, but that journalists were protecting him:
One of the refrains you hear today from media experts and journalists is that they’d known about Weinstein’s transgressions for a long time. The problem, they say, was that no one was able to nail down the story.
Nonsense. Everyone had it, not just Waxman. . . .
. . . .
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.
Gee. It sure is bad when journalists have the story of a famous guy in Hollywood who mistreats women — but the journalists don’t report the details. Isn’t it?
Which made it very odd for me to read, in the very same piece, this passage:
Hollywood is full of connoisseurs like Weinstein, men whose erotic imaginations are fueled primarily by humiliation, who glut their sensibilities with the most exquisite refinements of shame. A journalist once told me about visiting another very famous Hollywood producer—you’d know the name—who exhibited for my friend his collection of photographs of famous female actresses—you’d know their names, too—performing sexual acts for his private viewing. As with Weinstein, this man’s chief thrill was humiliation, and the more famous the target the more roundly it was savored: Even her, a big star—these people will do anything to land a role; they’re so awful, they’ll even do it for me.
Huh. It almost seems like Lee Smith has the story about a famous guy in Hollywood who mistreats women — but isn’t reporting the details!
The passage is jarring because you can easily visualize the same sorts of things being written about Weinstein in the past. You know: A friend tells me about a journalist — you’ve probably heard of her — who was cornered by a very famous Hollywood producer whose name you’ve seen the credits of countless blockbuster films. My friend says the producer propositioned her unsuccessfully and then whacked off into a ficus, right in front of her. Many people know the story. Why, it’s an open secret!
If Lee Smith is confused about why people protected Weinstein, maybe he should ask himself why he is protecting the Mystery Hollywood Harasser Whose Name You Would Recognize.
I hit up Smith about this on Twitter to politely ask him what gives here. No response so far. If I get one, I’ll update the post. Either I am reading the piece incorrectly, or Smith is missing some pretty deep irony here.