New York Times columnist Bret Stephens is taking heat for a new column he admits is a “defense, of sorts” for Harvey Weinstein.
In the op-ed, he called out the “whiff of opportunism” some have taken in the downfall of the film mogul.
It’s in this context that one can mount a defense of sorts for Mr. Weinstein, who inhabited a moral universe that did nothing but cheer his golden touch and wink at (or look away from) his transgressions — right until the moment that it became politically inconvenient to do so. Conservatives are trying to make hay of the fact that Mr. Weinstein donated lavishly to Democratic politicians, backed progressive causes and distributed films such as “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about campus sexual assault.
Stephens claimed the “important truth” was that Weinstein was “just another libidinous cad in a libertine culture that long ago dispensed with most notions of personal restraint and gentlemanly behavior.”
While many mocked Weinstein’s remarks about growing up in the ’60s and ’70s as his excuse for his behavior, Stephens said it “contains its truth.”
“Like those other libidinous cads — Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — Weinstein benefited from a culture that often celebrated, constantly depicted, sometimes enabled, seldom confronted, and all-too frequently forgave the behavior they so often indulged in,” Stephens elaborated.
He then went after those who are feasting on this scandal.
Hyenas cannot help their own nature. But the work of a morally sentient society is to prevent them from taking over the savannah. Our society, by contrast, festooned Weinstein with honors, endowed him with riches, and enabled him to feast on his victims without serious consequence for the better part of 30 years. The old saw that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing was never truer than it was in Weinstein’s case.
Twitter did not like what he had to say.
If you’re curious about exactly how Bret Stephens is going to absolve Harvey Weinstein of moral responsibility, I’ve got you covered pic.twitter.com/APnLyJuL7p
— Gabriel Roth (@gabrielroth) October 12, 2017
NYT Exec: “We should hire Bret Stephens.”
Other NYT Exec: “Yup, that is not at all a stupid idea.”
NYT Exec: “We’re very smart. EMAILS!” https://t.co/6Pfi3Tx6xY
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) October 12, 2017
I don’t normally join the online pile-ons about Bret Stephens’ NYT op-eds. But this. This is not an important truth. It is a lie. pic.twitter.com/Mflfb3zblr
— Niall Stanage (@NiallStanage) October 12, 2017
— Matthew Zeitlin (@MattZeitlin) October 12, 2017
At first I thought the headline was just clickbait but this Bret Stephens column is pure garbage: https://t.co/JDes59Aysa
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) October 12, 2017
There is simply no excuse for The New York Times employing Bret Stephens.
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) October 12, 2017
Bret Stephens dropping this column at 11 pm like it’s a secret album release and not something he wrote on the toilet with his notes app
— JuanPa (@jpbrammer) October 12, 2017
— Alan Cole (@AlanMCole) October 12, 2017
you’re not an intellectual, you’re the libertarian from 9th grade who never contributes to class discussion other than to smugly mock people
— tom mckay☠⁽ˢᵏᵉᶫᵉᵗᵒᶰ⁾ (@thetomzone) October 12, 2017
I was going to ask “when did the NYT editorial page become as crazy as the old WSJ editorial page” but then I remembered: Bret Stephens
— Paul Musgrave (@profmusgrave) October 12, 2017
Bret Stephens continues his fight for the “worst human on Twitter” championship. https://t.co/yRe2F5RKj4
— Arnesa (@Rrrrnessa) October 12, 2017
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) October 12, 2017
if you have a Bret Stephens story, slide into my DMs
— Bae “Boo” Talese (@elongreen) October 12, 2017