How The Media Covers Hollywood: From Hypocrisy To Harvey Weinstein

Jan 10, 2020

The media’s coverage of Hollywood and lessons from press coverage of Harvey Weinstein.

Guests

Radhika Jones, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. She formerly served as the editorial director for the books department at The New York Times, deputy managing editor of Time and the managing editor of The Paris Review.  (@radhikajones)

Jodi Kantor, prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times and best-selling author of “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement.” (@jodikantor)

From The Reading List

The New York Times: “All Bets Are Off as Harvey Weinstein’s Sexual Assault Trial Opens Today” — “Since the Harvey Weinstein story broke more than two years ago, everything about it has been outsize: the scope of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault, stretching back decades; the number of his accusers, who total more than 80; and the global scale of the reckoning their stories have inspired.

“Now, as the Hollywood producer’s criminal trial begins Monday in Manhattan, the outcome already is anticipated as a verdict on much more than one man’s alleged wrongdoing.

“Many supporters of the #MeToo movement that Mr. Weinstein’s accusers helped ignite are looking to see whether the legal system can deliver justice for victims. Lawyers for Mr. Weinstein, who lost his company, his reputation and his marriage, are arguing that the case is proof that #MeToo has gone too far. At the courthouse, media from around the world, demonstrators outside and spectators in packed galleries will be watching.

“But for all the expectations about the high-profile trial, the jurors will be hearing a narrow legal case, with an already-fraught back story and a highly unpredictable result.”

The Atlantic: “Opinion and Analysis: Ricky Gervais Almost Got It Right on Hollywood Hypocrisy” — “Here’s a strong line from Ricky Gervais’s monologue at last night’s Golden Globes: ‘Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China.’

“Simple, sharp, speaking truth to power, and nailing an obvious hypocrisy: check, check, check, check. But then Gervais went on to tear into the folks in the room:

“‘Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for [run sweatshops] in China—unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.’

“In a generally sour speech—Gervais had earlier emphasized how little he cared about the Golden Globes, and had suggested that Dame Judi Dench licks her nether regions—this was the acid-bomb climax. There was no conciliation, no wink in Gervais’s voice. It’s tempting to call this his moment of moral clarity, and it was likely aimed to be played on loop by Fox News and other outlets that make a habit of questioning Hollywood’s pieties. The passage is so close to saying the necessary thing about those pieties: that they’re often directed at broad causes rather than specific situations stars might actually have the power to change. But Gervais instead devolved into something more incoherent and regressive.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Harvey Weinstein on Trial: Why a Culture of Secrecy Extends to the Courtroom” — “Despite (or because of) intense media coverage, Judge  James  Burke is keeping many of the high-profile criminal proceeding’s most pressing questions — including witness names and allegations — on lockdown.

“When it comes to Harvey Weinstein, a culture of silence persists. The once-high-flying mogul will stand trial in Manhattan beginning Jan. 6 on charges of sexual assault, but don’t think for a second that this criminal proceeding represents a victory for clarity in the muck of darkness. At least, it hasn’t thus far.

“To be certain, the exposure two years ago of Weinstein as an alleged serial predator amounted to a victory for the maxim that sunlight is an effective disinfectant.

“But the trial before New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke still holds many secrets. Exactly who is accusing Weinstein of what? Despite worldwide media coverage, it’s still unclear. With nearly everything in this case sealed by the judge — including the names of potential witnesses and their allegations — reporters are relying on a shallow trove of court documents that have been made public to convey the gist of a proceeding expected to last approximately six weeks.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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