Some members of the press are working to disassociate movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual abuse and assault over three decades, from Hollywood's politically liberal culture and the Democratic politicians and causes he supported over the years.
After the news about Weinstein's extensive and admitted history of inappropriate behavior with women broke this month, conservative critics accused Hollywood, the media, and Weinstein's longtime friend Hillary Clinton of covering up or even enabling the scandal.
Friday in Washington, D.C., at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservatives, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said President Trump frequently promotes women to positions of power. "I think there's a great juxtaposition right now, you see one of the major influencers in Hollywood, a major Democratic donor, really ensnared in some pretty ugly stuff," she said.
Last week on his show, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said, "Hollywood is corrupt. The powerful prey upon the week and nobody is held accountable. That is the lesson of the Harvey Weinstein saga."
Weinstein was revered as a Hollywood producer and dealmaker and reportedly gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats over the years. He held a fundraiser at his New York home for Hillary Clinton in 2016, gave to the Clinton Foundation, and was also a backer of former President Barack Obama. It was reported in January that Obama's daughter Malia was set to take an internship with the Weinstein company.
Journalists, though, wrote columns and news stories that either cast Weinstein as not truly liberal in ideology, or framed the scandal as a political moment that conservatives have seized to their benefit.
"Harvey Weinstein isn't a typical liberal," read the headline on a column by the Washington Post's Roger Cohen. "Weinstein is not a typical liberal nor a typical man," he argued. "He's a typical beast. Leave it at that."
The Post also defended the decision of comedy shows to avoid jokes about Weinstein. After the New York Times broke the story about Weinstein on Thursday, Oct. 5, the late-night network TV comedy shows featured no jokes about it until the following week, and NBC's "Saturday Night Live" was also silent on the subject in its episode that weekend.
Critics suspected that the comedy celebrities were protecting one of their own, given that Roger Ailes, the former Fox News chairman, was mocked by those same shows after it was reported last year that he had also been accused by several women of inappropriate behavior.
But Callum Borchers, who analyzes media for the Post, said the dearth of jokes about Weinstein was "not that simple" as a matter of hypocrisy. He said the comedy programs do not operate the same as news organizations, though he did not mention that journalist Ronan Farrow had attempted to run his own story about the harassment on NBC, only to have the network turn it down.
The news and entertainment website Buzzfeed published a story Monday that viewed the Weinstein scandal not as decades of abuse against women, but as a badly needed hammer that conservatives and Republicans have picked up for political gain against Democrats.
"For a movement still reconciling itself to President Donald Trump and the allegations in his past, Weinstein, a Democratic mega-donor and Hollywood mogul who stands accused of sexually harassing and assaulting dozens of women, has given a contrast that some on the right are already eager to latch onto," said the story, by Ema O'Connor.
The story continued, "Social conservatives have long argued that the left is hypocritical, that liberals police people with 'political correctness' but do not practice what they preach. For this point, Weinstein is a perfect case study, and bludgeon for the right."
Weinstein was fired from his company after the harassment claims surfaced. He is now reportedly in a rehabilitation program.