As Sexual Predators Are Exposed, We Should Also Take Aim At Institutions Who Covered For Them
It is only Tuesday and we’ve already seen bombshell reports about sexual misconduct from veteran journalist Charlie Rose, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Disney/Pixar giant John Lasseter. The Creep Purge of 2017 has weeded out dozens of powerful men from numerous industries and there is no indication that it will slow down anytime soon.
While it is important to continue to weed out these sexual predators, we shouldn’t let their employers who brushed their behaviors under the rug for so many years off the hook.
Before this became a hot topic like it is today, it was over six months ago when Bill O’Reilly was fired from Fox News. Last April, a bombshell report from The New York Times revealed that the network paid out $13 million to several women with sexual harassment allegations against its star anchor over the years. And it wasn’t until last month when we learned that he reportedly paid $32 million to former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl shortly before his contract was renegotiated. It’s not a huge shocker since many in that company shielded Roger Ailes for years before he was ousted in 2016 for his own harassment. While Fox News was able to do damage control and hold onto its rating dominance, its reputation was obviously bruised as this whole ordeal was embarrassing for them.
Despite all of that, the floodgates didn’t open until the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Two major exposés took down the disgraced film mogul for allegations that range from harassment, assault, to rape that spanned decades. There were clearly many elements to this story that were disturbing, but one that often is forgotten about is how The Weinstein Company essentially allowed such sexual harassment to take place because his contract required him to personally pay his own settlements and that its board of directors knew about his disgusting behavior for years.
We’ve heard time and time again with others from Kevin Spacey, Mark Halperin, and Louis C.K. that their predatory behaviors were “open secrets.” So how on earth did they all get to keep their jobs for so long? After Spacey’s own “house of cards” crumbled, it was discovered that a complaint was filed to Netflix but that they thought it was “resolved” and it wasn’t until he was exposed that eight staffers from House of Cards came forward with allegations of harassment.
Rumors about Halperin originated during his time at ABC News in the ’90s and his reputation followed him to NBC News, but it wasn’t until the publishing of a bombshell report about him that he was fired. Such scrutiny could be aimed at Charlie Rose’s employers CBS and PBS since his allegations date back to the ’90s and his career in journalism was nearly half a century old. If none of their employers knew about these allegations, how did they not know?
Last week, these controversies made their way from Hollywood to Capitol Hill. It was discovered that Congress had a secret slush fund for almost 20 years that shelled out over $15 million for sexual harassment and discrimination settlements.
And while much of the oxygen has been taken by GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, allegations were made with current sitting politicians Al Franken (D-MN) and most recently Rep. John Conyers. It was reported by Buzzfeed News that Conyers used taxpayer money not only for a sexual harassment settlement but to fund his extramarital affairs.
In the end, we should be asking ourselves the following; Where’s the accountability? Why do we have to wait for a bombshell report in order for a predator to be removed? And why aren’t those who willfully turned a blind eye and allowed the employment of these creeps to carry on facing the consequences as well?
If we want positive, and most importantly, permanent change to come from this wave of sexual harassment scandals, we can’t only just peel away these individual abusers. We have to tackle the institutions that incubated these behaviors for decades. Whether it’s in entertainment, the news media, or in politics, sexual misconduct should never be tolerated and if it’s not addressed now, we will never be able to move on from this.
[image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.