As allegations of sexual misconduct and assault continue to pile up against disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, conservative pundits have been quick to shake some political currency out of the scandal. It’s not too hard to do: a limousine liberal and Hollywood bigwig for years abused countless young actresses — an “open secret” in the industry — while bankrolling several Democratic campaigns. The right has certainly hit the jackpot.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, cable news’ leading conservative talking head, took up the story on his primetime show last Monday night. The segment (included below) revealed to what lengths Carlson and his shameless cadre of far-right crusaders will go to spin a story against the left.
Joining Carlson that evening was Sharon Waxman, a former correspondent for The New York Times. In 2004, Waxman had investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein for the Times, traveling to multiple countries in order to track down leads. Sadly, a complete version of her story never ran. Forces loyal to Weinstein, she claims, successfully censored parts of her report and buried it deep within the culture section.
When Carlson introduced Waxman, he gave a secondhand account of the 2004 controversy rife with embellishments. According to the star Fox News host, the Times had “spiked” Waxman’s piece, a point that Waxman immediately corrected. Her former employer had not outright discarded of her work but instead “gutted” a significant portion.
“Okay,” responded Carlson, quickly moving on.
Waxman’s accusations were damning, but ultimately they created a conundrum for Carlson. The same publication that had allegedly suppressed accusations against Weinstein thirteen years ago also broke the same story last week. Carlson therefore could not question the journalistic ethics of the Times without also acknowledging that the newspaper had in part rectified its wrongdoing. So instead he dwelled on the media outlet’s questionable about-face. Apparently, he — and only he — had the nerve to point out the newspaper’s caprice (never mind that Waxman also spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper on the same subject the previous Friday).
Carlson then shifted his focus to Hollywood, another bastion of elitist liberals. He was joined by D-list movie star and producer Dean Cain, who is known for playing Superman on the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the nineties. Now an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, Cain expectedly fed into the conspiracy that Hollywood had quietly allowed for Weinstein to assault women. Carlson feigned surprise.
Carlson and Cain waxed poetic on unscrupulous, liberal Hollywood for several minutes. They conflated Weinstein’s non-apology, including his infuriating promise to take on the National Rifle Association as a sort of penance, with a disturbing culture of self-interest plaguing Hollywood and the political left. Wealthy, uncaring, immoral social climbers, they contended, allowed Weinstein to take advantage of these women. The subtext of their appraisal suggested that the survivors themselves were also culpable, for they had remained silent so as not to harm their own career aspirations.
As Carlson spoke with his guests, images of Weinstein appeared on screen. They featured prominently, taking up nearly half of the display as the segment picked up an ever-feverish, incensed tone. But Fox News producers didn’t grab just any photos they could find online. No, each picture had been carefully chosen in order to craft the overarching narrative that Carlson wished to impress on his audience. The first was of Weinstein and Hillary Clinton. Next came one of the movie producer and rapper Jay-Z, followed by a snapshot of Weinstein seated behind former First Lady Michelle Obama. The montage of high-profile liberals and Trump critics continued on: Michael Bloomberg, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Senator Chuck Schumer, and finally President Obama. (Curiously, Carlson omitted this photo of Weinstein and the current Commander-in-Chief.)
The host’s message was clear: the self-righteous left had willfully tolerated a monster.
Still, there was unintentional poetry to the photographic array. In two photos, one with Hillary Clinton and the other Michelle Obama, Weinstein was featured in the background, partially obscured by the two women. The shot eased in, centering on Clinton and Obama and pushing Weinstein further to the margins — reminding viewers what Carlson’s indignation was really all about.
Tucker Carlson will stop at nothing to denounce the left. He and his far-right bedfellows have turned Harvey Weinstein into a symbol for Hollywood and a synecdoche for what they see as progressivism’s two-faced ethical hypocrisy. When he ended his segment on Monday, Carlson thanked Cain for speaking out. “You’re a brave man,” he complimented, bringing a smile to Cain’s face.
It’s a type of courage that Carlson himself lacks. The conservative firebrand joined Fox News in 2009 and worked for Roger Ailes, an accused sex offender, for many years. Ailes’ misdeeds were also an “open secret” at the network, one that Carlson likely ignored. His silence might read as hypocrisy. But then again, Carlson doesn’t decry sexual harassment like the progressive left. In fact, he believes that Democrats “made up” the whole concept.
Over the course of last week, Carlson repeatedly came back to the growing Weinstein scandal, hammering home the same message of duplicitous progressivism. When liberal heavyweights, like Hillary Clinton, eventually denounced Weinstein, Carlson harangued them for taking too long to do so. (Of course, any amount of time would have been unsatisfactory to the Fox News presenter.) On other networks, news hosts interviewed survivors of Weinstein’s predatory behavior and discussed the need for major reform within the film industry and society-at-large. Carlson also ventured into this territory, calling on the Department of Justice to investigate “Hollywood’s culture of systemic sexual abuse.” This of course was an odd demand coming from a man who has so often looked the other way in cases like these. ♦
Stuart Richardson is the editor-in-chief of the Paris Globalist. He is pursuing a graduate degree in international security at Sciences Po.