Once again, journalists at The New York Times have proved again their credentials for shining a light on dark concerns of our world and fearing no power, money or status to telling the stories we should hear. This week, the superb Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey exposed the disgusting conduct of one of Hollywood’s most famous; most powerful; most revered figures in publishing many allegations that have not been denied – with some directly accepted – of three decades worth of abuse of power, abuse of women and abuse of those around him by Harvey Weinstein.
The similarity of the stories told by his victims – the repeated MO, the frequent setting of the Peninsular Hotel in Beverley Hills, the same misuse of status, power and authority to make and break careers – provided chilling reminders of so many cases of recent years involving giants of TV and the movies. We are now all too familiar with these patterns of behaviour, which tragically are still going on today.
The courage of the women who have spoken up – made more courageous by the fact that they now face vile abuse and ignorant questioning of their motives and timings now (that makes me so angry) – is extraordinary and means that only now – after years and years of this conduct – not just condoned and ignored by many in Hollywood but aided and abetted by many who worked with him – the truth is being outed.
As The Times reported, it wasn’t just the vile sexual abuse that proves so sickening but the normalisation of this behaviour and more besides by the people around Mr Weinstein – some of whom are now saying they didn’t know what was going on. Rather like all those people in the BBC who said they heard something about Savile but nothing concrete. As the subsequent inquiry at the BBC uncovered, this was tosh – and it will surely be tosh in Weinstein’s case. His behaviour was going on for years and was clearly an open secret in movie circles – so much so that it was joked about – in public – at the Oscar nominations ceremony one year. This abuse of power was there all along – hiding in plain sight.
I was sickened when I read the story and heard the discussion about it on The Daily podcast but wasn’t surprised. We live in a world where someone who boasted about sexual assaulting women because he was famous was elected President. We live in a world where men still are too often able to exploit their power over women because in most organisations and fields of work, men still dominate women in the filling of senior roles. We live in a world where people turn a blind eye to such abuse because it isn’t affecting them. But thankfully we also live in a world where The New York Times gives victims a voice and a platform and a chance to stop being victims but become heroes.