Culture

The Corner

Lena Dunham, Tina Brown: We Warned Hillary Clinton’s Campaign About Harvey Weinstein

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt . . . 

Lena Dunham, Tina Brown: We Warned the Clinton Campaign About Harvey Weinstein

This morning, Time magazine announced that “The Silence Breakers” is the magazine’s selection for Person of the Year. They announced this on NBC’s Today show. No word on whether any of Matt Lauer’s accusers were present for the announcement.

The New York Times’ follow-up investigation into Harvey Weinstein and the small army he used to cover up his crimes and behavior is pretty stunning and gross reading. Here’s what will be most jaw-dropping revelation for those of us who follow politics:

But two prominent women said they warned Mrs. Clinton’s team. In 2016, Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, said she was troubled by the producer’s visible presence during Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at campaign events. She had heard stories, both directly and secondhand from other actresses, about disturbing encounters with him, she said. So in March last year, Ms. Dunham, a vocal Clinton supporter, said she warned the campaign.

“I just want you to let you know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,” Ms. Dunham said she told Kristina Schake, the campaign’s deputy communications director. She recalled adding, “I think it’s a really bad idea for him to host fund-raisers and be involved because it’s an open secret in Hollywood that he has a problem with sexual assault.”

Earlier, during the 2008 presidential race, Tina Brown, the magazine editor, said she cautioned a member of Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle about him. “I was hearing that Harvey’s sleaziness with women had escalated since I left Talk in 2002 and she was unwise to be so closely associated with him,” Ms. Brown said in an email.

Ms. Dunham said that Ms. Schake seemed surprised at her warning, and that Ms. Schake said she would tell Robby Mook, the campaign manager, Ms. Dunham recalled in an interview.

With the Democratic National Convention approaching in summer 2016, Ms. Dunham said she also warned Adrienne Elrod, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton who was leading efforts with celebrity campaigners. As far as Ms. Dunham could tell, the campaign had not responded to her concerns about Mr. Weinstein. Weeks before Election Day, the producer helped organize a star-packed fund-raiser: an evening on Broadway with Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and others.

Notice the careful wording of this response from the Clinton campaign: “Ms. Elrod and Ms. Schake, through Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, denied that Ms. Dunham mentioned rape, while [Robby] Mook said that no one had ever alerted him about the producer.”

Maybe Dunham and Brown are lying. But it’s more likely that they’re exaggerating the intensity and clarity of their warnings. Maybe they didn’t mention rape. But the campaign’s statement does not deny that Dunham warned them about something about Weinstein – presumably aggressive and inappropriate sexual behavior directed at unwilling women in subordinate positions.

This wasn’t enough to raise red flags in the Clinton campaign. Then again, the candidate was married to Bill Clinton and the candidate’s most trusted aide was married to Anthony Weiner, so maybe there was difficulty establishing a baseline for abnormally “aggressive and inappropriate sexual behavior directed at unwilling women in subordinate positions.”

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