How Weinstein’s sex shame brought down Hollywood’s house of cards

Without fear or favour, Richard J. Hillgrove VI tips the tables up on world leaders, brands and countries who all often think they can hide behind the smoke and mirrors via their communications professionals. Bang On takes a full throttle, punk approach to dissecting and analysing modern PR and marketing. It's not for the faint hearted....

The fall of Harvey Weinstein and his empire, the most powerful in Dreamland, has been so complete there’s more than a whiff of the dark arts about it.

It can’t just be happenstance that led the media to shine the spotlight on Weinstein’s shameful behaviour at this point. It’s been an open secret in Hollywood for decades. 'Famly Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane even made a joke about it at the Oscars in 2013 (see video above.)

So what’s changed? One clue could be in the new balance of power in the Washington. Let’s face it, the entertainment industry hasn’t been kind to 'The Donald , and Trump just loves to create chaos. Could this be another presidential play?

As the Weinstein scandal escalated with ever increasing reports accusing him of sexual harassment and assault spanning decades, we saw Trump gleefully pass judgement as he boarded a helicopter at the White House.

He told reporters: “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it.”

No-one is more aware than Trump that destroying Weinstein’s reputation leaves the reputation of the Democratic Party in tatters along with it. Conspiracy theory? Maybe.

But the 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' filmmaker has been in bed with the Democrats for years. His family hasn’t just been a major party donor of more than $1.4m in political contributions since 1992. The association runs even deeper.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both received political donations from the Weinsteins.

The revelations left Hillary reeling on her UK book tour. She took a full five days to comment and has now promised to join a slew of Congressional Democrats in giving their donations away to charity.

The Clintons looked on Weinstein as a friend. They even rented a home next to his in the Hamptons in 2015.

Obama’s 19-year-old daughter, Malia, interned at the Weinstein Company’s New York office in January and his former White House director of communications, Anita Dunn, has helped Weinstein strategise.

Dunn is now managing director of SKDKnickerbocker, a Washington public affairs firm with deep ties to the Democratic Party.

Lanny Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton, was also on Team Weinstein until his resignation shortly after the scandal broke.

With such close Democrat ties, is it mere coincidence that Trump took the opportunity this week to announce Obamacare is over?

To really drive it home, the financially crippled Weinstein Company announced on Monday that it was receiving a lifeline from Colony Capital, the private investment firm founded by Tom Barrack, longtime friend of Donald Trump.

The star of Russia-gate, Trump Junior, wasted no time in taking to Twitter to dance on the grave of Weinstein’s reputation.

His frenzied Tweets rubbed salt in the wound. There was: “Ahhh Hollywood, our moral authority. What would we do without their guidance?

And: “But no one knew…”

And goading Hillary Clinton: “Weird, Hillary has been really quiet about Harvey Weinstein. You would think she would be all Over this. #WhatHappened?”

Then on October 11: “Maybe Hollywood will finally end their BS lectures & go back to doing what they do best... pretending to be something they're not. Oh wait.”

His Twitter feed has been like a scene from Rambo, pelting out round after round.

Leftie Hollywood has been unrelenting in its derision of Donald Trump, characterising him as a menace who’s unfit for office. It’s also arguably lobbying from the Left that has fuelled Russia-gate and moves to see him impeached.

So the Weinstein empire’s ignominious demise might just be payback for Democratic Hollywood’s opposition to the new White House regime.

And what better way to orchestrate it than to create a climate where others are empowered to take your enemy down? You couldn’t script it any better. Except it possibly was scripted, and very carefully.

It’s as gripping a tale of vengeance as any to hit the silver screen. The weapons were already loaded and aimed. Not just one, but a line of women came on the scene to testify to a list of appalling offences.

All it needed was someone to squeeze the trigger, hit the mark and the whole house of cards could come crashing down.

Enter the New York Times. Their report claims Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment claims from 1990 to 2015. It featured an interview with Ashley Judd, the first big-name star to go on the record with an allegation that Weinstein sexually harassed her.

Then we heard of the recording made by one of the women, Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, on March 28, 2015, at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. That was proof of at least one instance of Weinstein’s sexual assault and harassment.

Ms Gutierrez was paid off, like the others, and signed a legally binding promise to remain silent. But the audio of her hotel encounter still somehow made it into the public domain, only a week after the newspaper's initial exposé.

It’s absolutely right and proper for these women to have come forward, but why now? What made it safe suddenly for them to do so? Even though some of them had signed legally binding promises to stay schtum?

We’re told a similar story was going to run in the New York Times in 2004, but Matt Damon was roped in to kill it. He has categorically denied the allegation.

It all smacks of an orchestrated PR offensive. Clearly there would be an awful lot for the Trump administration to gain by bringing down the King of Hollywood and his court.

But even he might not have predicted the tsunami of women coming forward in the wake of the initial story. More than 30 women - including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan and Cara Delevingne – have now spoken up and made detailed statements describing his alleged advances.

Once again, Trump is master of misrule at the centre of a storm, benefitting from a pandemonium that may well have been carefully engineered.

It’s his standard MO: Stir up the hornet’s nest to destabilise and rule.

Is it all part of his game plan to set America and the world ablaze and keep himself in power?

That’s how it worked in the Weimar Republic. It's been something of a mystery for more than eight decades: Who set fire to the Reichstag, the German parliament, on February 27, 1933?

The March 6, 1933, issue of TIME, says the arson came amid "a campaign of unparalleled violence and bitterness" by then-Chancellor Adolf Hitler, in advance of an approaching German election.

It turned a building that was "as famous through Germany as is the dome of the Capitol in Washington among U. S. citizens" into "a glowing hodge-podge of incandescent girders."

The rest is history.

Bang On to Richard on email richard.hillgrove@6hillgrove.com and Twitter @6hillgrove

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