Peter Baker reports that many within Hollywood’s elite are refusing to comment on the Harvey Weinstein story:
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) October 9, 2017
In an odd way this is reassuring.
“What!?” you may ask. “Why?” I’ll tell you: Because it means that, their rhetoric aside, very few people in Hollywood actually think that the president is a fascist, or that we are really on the verge of a descent into tyranny.
This Weinstein story does not “reveal something about the Left,” as some partisans have claimed. Indeed, we have seen similar stories, and associated omertà, on the Right in the last couple of years. Rather, it reveals something about the nature of power and self-censorship. Harvey Weinstein is powerful, as is his former company. Which is why, despite knowing he was bad news, most refused to speak up. A similar dynamic appears to have obtained at Fox during the Roger Ailes years. If you were worried about your next contract, or your career in general, you kept quiet and declined to rock the boat, whatever you knew or suspected.
We see no such reticence when it comes to the president, who is mocked and dismissed and lambasted from every Twitter account, awards show, and interview in the glossies. This, lest, I be misunderstood, is a good thing. Free countries mock their presidents with impunity. Free people loathe whomever they want. I said it under Obama and I’ll say it now: That effigy of the president you’re burning is the symbol of my liberty. Go for it.
But don’t pretend you’re genuinely scared while you’re doing so. Leaders who are actually “fascists” or “tyrants” or “Hitler” are not less scary than Harvey Weinstein, but more so. Ugly as it is, this sordid little episode has given us some much-needed clarity as to where fear really lurks, in Tinseltown and beyond.