The Weinstein effect is a global trend in which people come forward to accuse famous or powerful men of sexual misconduct. A worldwide wave of allegations began in the United States in October 2017, when media outlets reported on sexual abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The allegations were described as a "tipping point" or "watershed moment" and precipitated a "national reckoning" against sexual harassment.
The effect gave rise to the Me Too movement, which encourages people to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and the two events triggered a cascade of allegations that brought about the swift removal of many men in positions of power in the United States, while tarnishing and ending political careers of additional men as it spread around the world. In the entertainment industry, allegations led to the dismissal of actors and directors alike.
In July 2016, Fox News television host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against the station's chairman Roger Ailes, which led to his removal and encouraged journalists to pursue rumors about the conduct of Weinstein and political commentator Bill O'Reilly. Similar revelations and a lawsuit led to O'Reilly being fired in April 2017. Both Ailes and O'Reilly denied wrongdoing. Ailes died in May 2017.
On October 5, 2017, The New York Times broke the first reports of decades of sexual misconduct claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein. On October 10, 2017, journalist Ronan Farrow reported further allegations Weinstein had sexually assaulted or harassed thirteen women, and raped three.
Weinstein was immediately dismissed from The Weinstein Company. Weinstein had suppressed these cases through confidential financial settlements and nondisclosure agreements, as was common for celebrity sexual harassment cases, before journalists aired the story. Over eighty accusers came forward against Weinstein, including many well-known actresses.
Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times said the Weinstein scandal precipitated a "national reckoning" against sexual harassment and assault in the United States, which became known as the Weinstein effect; on social media, it was widely known as "#pervnado". USA Today wrote that 2017 was the year in which "sexual harassment became a fireable offense".
Men and women aired claims of sexual misconduct in workplaces across multiple industries, leading to the swift international condemnation or removal of many men in positions of power. On Twitter, the #MeToo campaign encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to share their stories. Examples of the effect are numerous, with actors such as Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K., Ben Affleck, and filmmakers Brett Ratner and James Toback all being affected. In journalism, allegations led to the firing of editors, publishers, executives, and hosts, including high-profile television figures such as Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, and Matt Lauer. In politics, accusations of varying degrees of severity were made against U.S. House Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN), both of whom resigned their seats in Congress, and Roy Moore (R-AL), who lost his 2017 bid for election to the United States Senate. Celebrity chefs Mario Batali and John Besh were also removed.
Two supporters of the #MeToo movement were also accused. CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves was one of Hollywood's most prominent supporters of the #MeToo Movement and a founding member of the "Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace", formed in late 2017 to "tackle the broad culture of abuse and power disparity". On July 27, 2018, six women, including actress Illeana Douglas, accused him of sexually harassing them. On August 19, 2018, an article published in The New York Times detailed allegations that Asia Argento sexually assaulted Jimmy Bennett, a then 17-year-old actor and musician, in a California hotel in 2013, and arranged to pay $380,000 to her accuser. Bennett was under the California age of consent, which is 18 years of age, and says he was given alcohol under the age of 21. Argento was a leading Weinstein accuser and prominent #MeToo movement leader.
The Weinstein effect was felt outside the United States, especially, but not solely, in the English-speaking world. In the United Kingdom, allegations of sexual misconduct against many British politicians became a public scandal involving dozens of women accusers across decades and political parties. It led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, Cabinet Secretary Damian Green and Welsh minister Carl Sargeant (who took his own life, four days after his dismissal). In January 2018, reports of sexual harassment at the high-society Presidents Club charity dinner caused another scandal. In Canada, accusations against Just for Laughs comedy festival founder Gilbert Rozon led to his resignation, and 15 people accused Quebec radio host Éric Salvail of sexual misconduct. Broadcaster and former baseball player Gregg Zaun was fired.
American journalists in conversation at NPR spoke of the allegations feeling like a tipping point for societal treatment of sexual misconduct. They distinguished the moment from prior sexual misconduct public debates by the public trust in the accusers, who in this case were celebrities familiar to the public, rather than the accusers in prior cases, in which the accusers were unknown and became famous for their testimony. Social media provides a platform for women to share their experiences and encouragement at a scale that had not existed during prior public debates. The state of California is considering legislation to ban closed door sexual harassment settlements.
Two columnists of the USA Today expressed doubt that the trend of public opinion would hold, citing open, public cases with few consequences, such as R. Kelly and Donald Trump. The Weinstein effect also caused multiple sources to question the place of Bill Clinton within the Democratic Party due to the sexual assault allegations against him.
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A public proponent of the #MeToo movement, Moonves
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Among the list of the commission's members are:... -- Les Moonves, chairman/CEO of CBS Corp
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