How Does It Happen?

Harvey Weinstein, Fox News, and the Power of Self-Interest

By David French

Here are his main points:

How does it happen that Ailes and O’Reilly could thrive for so long at a network that at least seemed to grant Christians and social conservatives their highest and most powerful media platforms? Aren’t prominent Christians concerned with family values? And how does Hollywood tolerate Weinstein? Isn’t Hollywood the cultural heart of progressive America?

The easy answer to “how” is one word — power.

But there’s another word that answers how — one that applies not to the victims but to the constellation of co-workers, journalists, and peers who swim in the same corporate waters. That word is ambition. Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and Bill O’Reilly weren’t powerful in the way that dictators are powerful. They had no ability to imprison or execute any person. They didn’t have the ability to deprive a person of their liberty or of the ability to earn a livelihood. What they could do was rob a person of their dreams.

Thus the world we live in today. People who went on television night after night scorning Democratic and progressive misconduct knew full well that they were working with and for harassers and scoundrels. Progressives who launched full frontal attacks on conservatives for their alleged “war on women” gladly basked in Weinstein’s glory, took the opportunities he offered, and spent the money he gave.

No, neither Harvey Weinstein nor Roger Ailes was really all that powerful. They were vulnerable. They were vulnerable to people who were willing to support victims and tell the truth. They were vulnerable to people who just might be willing to risk their personal ambition to seek justice. But because ambition is so overwhelming — because self-interest is so powerful — these paper tigers were allowed to prey on women year after year.

Why do men like Ailes and Weinstein get away with misconduct for so long? Because in certain sectors of American society, moral courage is in short supply.