What Should We Make of Hollywood and Democrats' Twisted Friendship?

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

The allegations that Harvey Weinstein harassed and assaulted a growing list of women haven’t just had repercussions for him, his business, and, of course, his victims. Weinstein’s history as a major Democratic donor means that recipients of those funds have been forced to make a decision about what to do: keep the money, now unavoidably from a serial predator, or donate it elsewhere, a decision numerous senators have made.

On this week’s Big Time Dicks, Kelly Stout, Ellie Shechet, and I discuss Ellie’s recent piece, “A Brief History of Harvey Weinstein’s Relationship With the Democratic Party,” which outlines how Weinstein has allocated over $1 million of political donations over the past several decades; he’s personally contributed to politicians including Kirsten Gilibrand, Al Franken, Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Patrick Leahy.

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We also discuss the ethical quagmire in which Democrats, and ourselves, are left. Are we really supposed to believe that none of these recipients knew about Weinstein’s reputation for abuse? Is it acceptable for them to turn a blind eye in the service of Greater Political Good? And what are we supposed to think of politicians we ostensibly admire for their moral fortitude?

“This is something that obviously the Republican party is just really enjoying, because it’s been the first time in awhile that they’ve been able to really dig into something shitty happening on the other side, while their president is sort of dancing with nuclear war,” Ellie says.

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“This poses a lot of complicated questions; it’s hard to wrap up in a neat bow. It poses questions for Democrats, for feminists, and for people who are accepting of this donor system and this political system that we live in today.”

(Just a warning—the episode plays secretly recorded audio obtained by the New Yorker of Weinstein pressuring Ambra Battilana Gutierrez from 19:00 to 20:19.)


Big Time Dicks can be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, iHeart Radio, and on the NPR One app.

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DISCUSSION

reboundstudent
reboundstudent

I really don’t get the intense focus on Harvey Weinstein by anyone outside of Republicans (and they’re only focusing on him to try to divert from their own embrace of sexual predators within their party.) Weinstein didn’t seem to have much to any political clout when it came to steering policy within the Party, and while his contributions certainly look impressive when totaled from 1992, his actual contributions don’t seem that significant:

https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=harvey+weinstein&order=desc&sort=D

According to this, he donated $2700 to Clinton in November of 2016, and another $2700 in November 2015. His biggest contributions were $50,000 to PACS in 2002, and then $100,600 to the DNC itself from 2008-2011. (This is a rough estimate, you can only organize based on amount/date, so I might have missed some contributions.) It looks like his biggest contribution to Al Franken was $2,600 in 2014. That doesn’t put him anywhere near the biggest contributors for Franken 2013-2018 (U of M donated $29,926.) The DNC’s biggest donors contributed $100,200 *on a single donation.* (https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cycle=2016&cmte=C00010603) In 2016, Weinstein donated a total of $30,890.

Now obviously, compared to the average person, these are some significant funds. But in the grand scheme of political donors, he doesn’t seem to have donated nearly as much as other people and organizations. Even if it’s true that Democrats let big donors steer policy and run rampant with bad behavior cause dollar dollar bills, Weinstein doesn’t appear to have BEEN a big enough donor to earn that.

So... am I missing something? Why are we wringing our hands over this guy’s donations??

EDIT: The guy’s net worth is rumored to be around $240-300 million.