Recent stories of powerful men sexually harassing and assaulting women have taken over the news in a flood of ever-more-shocking scenarios. From movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to actor Kevin Spacey and from comedian Louis C.K. to veteran NBC anchor Matt Lauer – many men who used their powerful positions to proposition and assault women are now seeing their careers (most likely) come to an end.

Millions of words in the last few months have been written by people struggling to understand the why. Why do men in these positions do what they do? Do they suffer from compulsions they are not able to control? Are they the products of a culture that creates abusive men? Or are they simply just bad people who take advantage of the power they’ve acquired?

These are interesting questions, but for me they are not the best question. What I continue to be amazed by is how the communities around these men – their movie studios, acting communities and, in the case of the many news figures, their employers –  let this gross behavior slide for decades.

Just this morning, in an interview with “The Sunday Times,” the actor Gabriel Byrne said that production on the film “The Usual Suspects” – a film that pretty much launched the career of Kevin Spacey – was delayed at one point because of Spacey’s behavior on set.

“I did not know honestly then the extent of his violence,” Byrne said. “I mean, he was kind of a joke in that people would say, ‘That’s Kevin,’ but nobody really understood the depth of his predations.”

Similar comments were made about Weinstein by director Quentin Tarantino, who benefited a great deal from the Weinstein group’s production money to make films following his own peculiar artistic sensibilities

“I knew enough to do more than I did,” Tarantino told The New York Times in October. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

Why did no one act? Even Tarantino can’t explain why he chose to do nothing. The same question is even harder to understand in the context of news figures like Lauer and senior TV journalist Mark Halperin. Both men were renowned for their predation that was reported constantly to superiors who did absolutely nothing. At one point last year, it was revealed that Fox News was practically governed from the top down by sexual harassers who spent millions settling with women who had credible accusations against former Fox host Bill O’ Reilly and boss Roger Ailes.

I can’t help but wonder what these workplaces might have been like if these men were dealt with after their first offense. Or even after their third. It’s clear that, for these men, their workplaces were nothing but great big enablers. No matter how terrible their acts, they were explained away by “boys will be boys” excuses with, no doubt, a healthy dose of “these guys make us money” rationalizations.

We will in coming months be forced to grapple with the sexual misbehavior of more well-known figures – in particular, politicians from Al Franken to Roy Moore to the President himself, who have yet to face consequences for their actions. As the employers of these men, it’s essential that we hold them accountable. As it stands now, we haven’t acted much better than NBC news. We all know enough to act. To do less is to enable a pervasive culture of sexual harassment.

Pete Mazzaccaro

 

  • Robert Fox

    What sexual misbehavior are you accusing the POTUS of?

    • PMazz
      • Robert Fox

        “We will in coming months be forced to grapple with the sexual misbehavior of more well-known figures – in particular, politicians from Al Franken to Roy Moore to the President himself, who have yet to face consequences for their actions.” = accusing POTUS of sexual misbehavior

        • PMazz

          Ok, so do you have a point, Bob?

          • Robert Fox

            Yes, my point is that as a journalist you should refer to allegations until they are proven. It is not appropriate to refer to sexual misbehavior of anyone, including the POTUS, until it is proven. Denying it makes it even worse. Also, I prefer Robert, thanks.

          • PMazz

            Thanks for the journalism lesson, Robert. But this is an op-ed, not a crime blotter report. POTUS has admitted to and said enough that on the record that would warrant consequences in the not too distant past. And I’m talking about political consequences. So far, Franken and Moore have paid a price. Trump’s current approval ratings may constitute a price paid, but otherwise, there’s been no reckoning.

          • Robert Fox

            You’re welcome. To be clear, op-eds (or, technically, in your case an “editorial”) allow for writing that is freed from the need to be objective, not writing that is freed from journalistic standards. For example, it would be inappropriate for Donald Trump to write an op-ed about Barack Obama being a Muslim, or born outside of the United States, but he could write one about how he does not support the Iran nuclear deal. Does that make sense?

          • PMazz

            That’s pretty funny, given the fact that nearly every time Trump makes an argument, his primary rhetorical method is the ad hominem attack. There is no deviation in journalistic standards to call the president’s behavior worthy of political consequence. He’s a man who is a proven, not alleged serial liar and has bragged in public, on the record dozens of times of doing exactly what most of these women claim he did. You don’t need proof beyond a shadow of a doubt to say he deserves political consequences. If you prefer to keep your head in the sand and write off the allegations of nearly 2 dozen women as nothing but fiction, that’s fine. But let’s not get distracted by debating what constitutes journalism standards and what is or isn’t appropriate. It’s nonsense designed to defend the indefensible.

            (BTW, my offer still stands if you ever decide to take me up on it.)

          • Joe

            Pete, bobby is a coward. He just likes spilling his craziness onto others because he feels it provides balance. He also considers himself an intellectual.

            You should be proud though Pete, bobby reads almost every article you write. He is a great supporter of the local.

            I suppose his next move is to chime in with some sort of “I do respect you” comment… or to talk about how the left is hateful – or maybe even something about fake news.

            He may even start to think that “joe” is just the anonymous “pmazz”.

            I actually rarely read anything he writes anymore… can’t waste my time, don’t want to give him an audience.

          • Joe

            I was wrong, his approach was an attempt to post anonymously in support of his own vitriol. Bobby has to make up supporters, because he has so few in CH. I bet he had to make up his friends as a child, and perhaps even sleeps with a blow up doll. 🙂

            Hey, but at least he has his posts… ya know, all the way down on the (web version) of the local newspaper.

          • Robert Fox

            1) You’re anonymous
            2) You’ve called me about 100 different names. I have not called you any.
            3) You deliberately use a name I don’t like as a form of derision.
            4) Blow up doll? No friends? Anything else you want to throw against the wall while you’re at it?

          • Joe

            Robin, I was talking about you… not to you. But that about covers it. Reg. #3, I’ll stick with Robin 😉

          • Robert Fox

            Pete – we’re not talking about ad hominem attacks, and I would be the last person to defend Trump’s use of them. I certainly agree with you there. I’m also not writing off the allegations. I think Trump probably IS guilty of sexual misbehavior, but allegations are not sufficient to indict someone. It’s very dangerous for the media to think it serves as the arbiter of truth – that Trump is guilty because Pete Mazzaccaro THINKS he’s guilty. We have a court system that serves that purpose. But, as you have made clear, you disagree.

          • PMazz

            It’s clear you’ve missed my point. I’m not talking about indicting him. I’m talking about suffering political consequences resulting from numerous, credible allegations. Franken was not indicted or tried. Politicians are not guaranteed their office short of a criminal conviction. They serve at the will of the people. It was a point made even by Mitt Romney when he urged the people not to vote for Roy Moore.

          • Robert Fox

            And you’ve missed mine – that you can believe personally – to yourself, to your friends, in talking on the Avenue – that Trump is guilty of misconduct. But you can’t simply state it as gospel truth in the pages of a paper. You’re moving the goalposts by saying he should face political consequences – that’s fine, but that’s obviously not the point I originally took issue with. The American people made their choice a year ago. They’ll have another chance in 3 years.

          • Joe

            You are so clearly wrong. Do you ever admit to being wrong? Have you?

            It’s like blowing a train out of the way. A big assclown train.

            You are laughable.

            (Yes this was an attack on your character – your bullshit offends me, but also entertains me)

          • Robert Fox

            A big assclown train. My, how clever.

            If nothing else glad I can entertain!

          • Joe

            Sure Bob, give me your number you cowardly piece of racist, homophobic, sexist, elitist shit. You hide behind the internet spouting your nonsense. Even the editor of said publication things you are an insane assclown.

          • Robert Fox

            Thanks Joe. Interesting comment. I don’t quite see it that way but appreciate the unique perspective you bring to the table. Happy Holidays!

          • Joe

            So condescending… just as bad as ad hominem attacks, bobby.

          • Robert Fox

            Sarcastic, not condescending. Condescending is calling someone a bunch of names without any basis or reason to do so. Please, try again.

          • Joe

            Condescending: “having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority” – well, that about defines you to a tee, Robin. Says nothing about calling people names. Perhaps both sarcastic and condescending.

          • PMazz

            Since when is my word the gospel? We’re back to the beginning, Robert. An op-ed is an expression of opinion. That’s why it’s on Page 4 in the opinion section. Nothing more. Nothing less.

          • Robert Fox

            Dude, really? This is incredibly simple. The American National Standards Institute publishes guidelines for editorials. Those standards state that “Editorials, analytical articles and commentary will be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to FACTS as news reports.”

            You assert, as FACT, that POTUS IS guilty of sexual misbehavior. That is not a FACT. From a media, reporting, and journalism standpoint, the FACT is that he has been accused of such misconduct. As an editor you need to understand the difference.

  • CH

    Pete, I think the bigger issue is that you should stick to more local op-eds. I get you’re liberal-inclined with your opinions but it does nothing to add to the discussion to just echo all sorts of national liberal opinion on all these subjects. There’s so much value to your voice when you avoid all the insanity and yelling past each other that happens at the national level and focus your opinions more on what’s going on in NW Phila, where there are precious few outlets. Personally speaking, that’s the only reason I subscribe to the Local, I can get these national opinions in tons of other mainstream papers…but the Local at least gives me a window on what’s going on at home – we get it, you don’t like Trump, but your voice doesn’t have anything new to offer in that conversation. Its far more constructive for you to stick closer to home with your writings. Just my two cents as a huge supporter of what the Local sets out to do.

    • CH2

      I disagree. I applaud Pete’s efforts to speak out on these issues. He is a human being and his voice should be heard.

      • Robert Fox

        Hear hear! Pete is a human being!

      • CH

        Human yes, but economics no. I could just subscribe to the Washington Post then. Unfortunately, CHL < WaPo

        • Jon Vander Lugt

          @CH I respect what you’re saying — in a hyper-local outlet like the CHL, you’d want more locally-focused news and opinions than what it appears that Pete touches on here.

          But I think the takeaway here is that sexual harassment occurs in every nook and cranny of the country — in everyone’s workplace, and probably in a lot of family and friend structures. That’s what I think he’s calling attention to — the fact that it’s everywhere — which forces readers (men, probably) of this op-ed to examine ways in which they might have encountered this kind of behavior in their own lives, as well as reevaluate how they have responded and how they would respond in the future.

          Sexual misconduct is an issue that lies very close to the lives of every Northwest Philadelphian, especially women, and to dismiss this op-ed for mentioning national examples is unfair, I think.

  • Hvnzgrl Jax

    What’s really crazy to me is when I hear people say what took so long for them to say anything? I know all to well why. Having been tossed around like a boat on choppy waters while serving in the U S Navy after trying to report a situation using the “chain of command”. Wound up being blackballed, labeled as a troublemaker. Not being recommended for advancement or reenlistment. It grinds my gears. #Metoo

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