Watching the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story play out shows what’s wrong with our society. It’s a story of power and corruption to be sure, but it’s also about privilege and elitism. The coverage illustrates an out of touch corporate media and the rush to politicize every aspect of our culture. No wonder so many Americans have lost faith in our institutions from the press to justice system.
Almost as soon as the scandal broke, the political class decided to turn it into a political story. Chris Cillizza of CNN wrote a piece titled, “Harvey Weinstein is now a big problem for Democrats” because Weinstein was a big Democratic donor. Conservative pundits immediately started asking why Democrats weren’t condemning Weinstein, despite years of overlooking the culture of sexual abuse at Fox News. Framing the problem through a Democrat verses Republican lens makes people more skeptical of politics and obscures the far more important matters in this disturbing saga.
The story also illustrates why so many people are disgusted with the elites in society. Weinstein’s behavior was apparently known for years, maybe even decades, but nobody called him out. On the contrary, he was feted and honored by Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Had a working stiff behaved like Weinstein, he would have been fired and likely prosecuted.
Nobody seems to be seriously considering charges against Weinstein. He’s headed to Europe for in-patient therapy for sex addiction and hopes to make a comeback when he’s done. He should be headed to court and, if found guilty, heading to prison. That won’t happen, though. The rich and powerful seldom pay the same price or are held to the same standards as poor people who make up the bulk of the people moving through our criminal justice system.
The press also failed. Journalists who almost certainly heard rumors didn’t follow up on the story and when they finally did, they pointed fingers at the victims, at politicians who took donations, at the industry, at any story angle except to ask why their industry didn’t expose Weinstein years ago. Maybe it’s because we’ve turned journalists into network and cable stars, knocking down multi-million dollar contracts while beat reporters are getting laid off in record numbers.
Weinstein lived a protected life. He was enabled by an industry that tolerated the intolerable from one of its powerhouses. The press and almost everyone else looked the other way. Money and status clearly mattered more than morals and standards.
It’s no wonder so many people are cynical about our institutions and leaders. The Weinstein debacle epitomizes what’s wrong with our system. We have a class of people who are above scrutiny and seldom held accountable. We saw it in 2007, when Wall Street bankers crashed the economy and nobody was punished. Instead, when they got bailed out, they gave themselves big bonuses when they should have been drawing unemployment or going to prison. Now, we’re seeing it in the entertainment industry.
If politicians want to see an end to the angry electorate, they need to side with people who work hard and play by the rules, not the ones ignore the rule book and buy their way out of trouble. If the press wants to regain trust, stop viewing everything through a political lens and start hiring reporters more interested in the story than their careers. If the justice system wants more respect, treat suspected criminals equally without giving preference to those who can hire powerful lawyers. Otherwise, let’s just admit that we’re now an oligarchy with a protected class and do away with pretensions of justice and equality.