The Associated Press runs interference for the Democratic Party every day. At the moment, the Harvey Weinstein scandal is hurting the Democrats badly. Weinstein was a major force in the party, as he was in Hollywood. As an important donor to, and ostensible close friend of, Democratic politicians including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the revelation that his adult life has been one long crime spree was, for the Democrats, a major embarrassment.
To compound the problem, the news about Weinstein’s many sexual transgressions, which were at once aggressively hushed up and widely known, are uncomfortably reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s career as a serial assaulter and harasser. In many quarters, Weinstein’s misdeeds have also brought back memories of Ted Kennedy. (To be fair, however, neither Weinstein nor Clinton ever killed anyone. And to be fair to Weinstein, there have been no reports of him riding the Lolita Express.)
So the AP desperately wanted to find a Republican they could associate with Weinstein. They found him, in the person of Steve Bannon.
The multiplying tentacles of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal have touched a former president, a former presidential candidate and now a former presidential adviser.
Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House strategist and current head of Breitbart News, is the latest politico touched by the scandal. Bannon, whose website has hammered Democrats for accepting Weinstein’s political donations, himself profited off a relationship with the movie mogul, in an ill-fated joint venture more than a decade ago.
You may wonder how someone can profit from an ill-fated venture; that is addressed later in the AP story.
Bannon served as chairman of a small company that distributed DVDs and home videos, and went into business in 2005 with The Weinstein Co., led by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob. The Weinsteins became 70 percent owners of the now defunct venture, Genius Products.
The connection between Bannon and Weinstein began more than a decade ago when Bannon, who had been a Goldman Sachs banker, was dabbling in Hollywood investments. Transcripts of investor conference calls at the time show Bannon enthusing about the business opportunities with the Weinsteins.
“We are extremely honored to be in business with the new Weinstein Company,” Bannon told investors in one such call, declaring that “the Weinsteins have the most impressive track record in the film industry” and that “Bob and Harvey are two of the most prolific studio heads in the history of Hollywood.”
Did Bannon ever meet Harvey Weinstein? Perhaps, but nothing in the AP story tells us that the two were acquainted, let alone close friends. Or, needless to say, political allies. In case you fail to see the point of this stroll down memory lane, the AP connects the dots:
The ties to Weinstein open Bannon up to charges of hypocrisy given Breitbart’s intense focus on the scandal and its political fallout.
I suppose one might argue that Steve Bannon was a hypocrite if he knew that Harvey Weinstein was a felonious pig and nevertheless accepted campaign contributions from him and praised his character. But Bannon didn’t do those things. Bannon entered into an arms-length business transaction that ended in bankruptcy. The AP gives us no reason to think that Bannon, anything but a Hollywood insider, was aware of the Democratic donor’s criminal proclivities. If Bannon had known about them, it presumably would have been Breitbart.com rather than the New York Times that broke the scoop.
What is the point of a story like this one by the AP? There is no point, except to distract readers from the significance of the Weinstein scandal, which relates entirely to a Democratic Party industry and to Democratic Party politicians, by randomly associating a Republican with the disgraced sex criminal.
The most interesting question about the AP’s story relates to its origin. Did an intrepid AP reporter scour obscure SEC filings, looking for a long-ago connection between Harvey Weinstein and a Republican? That is possible–the AP will go to considerable lengths to defend its party–but I think it is unlikely. In all probability, a loyal Democrat at the Weinstein Company fed this decade-old story to an equally loyal Democrat at the Associated Press. That is how “news” is frequently made. Which, some might say, is an even bigger scandal than Harvey Weinstein’s predations.