How to profit from your own sleaziness

The entertainment industry leads the way in turning exploitation into money by adding another layer of exploitation. This sounds like the worst television show idea ever.

Disgraced CBS anchor Charlie Rose is being slated to star in a show where he’ll interview other high-profile men who have also been toppled by #MeToo scandals.

Among the people Rose would interview are Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., and Mario Batali. They intend to use their own notoriety as harassers to drive an “entertainment” program where they’ll schmooze with each other and talk about how unjustly they were treated and how they ought to be given a second chance. I suspect their accusers will not get a moment in the limelight, and that their accusations won’t even be discussed.

There’s a really good piece by Lindsay Zoladz on these efforts to reward very bad men with an unearned redemption, as if they haven’t been soaking in their ill-gotten rewards already.

But in what felt like some sort of quota for needlessly sympathetic stories about odious men, the very same issue of The Hollywood Reporter in which Miller’s C.K. story was published also contained a lengthy, much-criticized feature that asks, in the gently curious tone usually used when one wonders where a beloved child star is now, “What Happened to Charlie Rose?” (What happened to Charlie Rose, you’ll remember, was that 17 women said he’d committed sexual harassment and misconduct, including groping, making unwanted sexual advances, and “walking around naked in front of colleagues who were required to work at one of his New York homes.”) In the months since the accounts, if you were wondering, Rose has mostly spent his time reading and ordering takeout in Bellport, Long Island, where he owns a waterfront home valued somewhere between $4 million and $6 million. In case you would like more information about the other multimillion-dollar homes the accused sexual predator owns, in Manhattan, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina, The Hollywood Reporter printed fawningly descriptive blurbs about each of them at the end of the story.

So brace yourself. These nasty men are plotting their comebacks, and there are plenty of enablers in the upper echelons who want to give it to them.

“The consensus is that while his behavior was clearly wrong it was not at the level of a Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, or Bill Cosby,” Miller wrote in his piece about Louis C.K., before quoting a flippant and painfully unfunny joke that the comic Gilbert Gottfried made about the “different levels of misbehavior” enacted by these men. Sure. I am not denying that there are different levels of sexual misconduct — and, like the New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, I am sick of people assuming that feminists are inherently denying or unable to see that. As Tolentino wrote in January in an excellent piece about the inevitability of the #MeToo backlash, it is incredibly frustrating when people are more willing to see nuance on the side of the accused than the vocally critical. And yet it is crucial that we also see the way that the forgiveness of a “lesser” predator paves the way for one “at the level” of Weinstein, Toback, or Cosby to be redeemed. To welcome someone like C.K. or Batali back into the fold not six months after these accusations broke is to intimidate other victims from speaking out, because it will make them think their stories don’t matter, or that the power granted to them by the #MeToo movement was just a temporary spell. To write about them sympathetically, to give them more ink than the names and achievements of their accusers, to run headlines suggesting a “likely” comeback, is to participate in the very culture that allowed these men to behave badly in the first place. It is a failure to imagine a different story, a better world.

C.K., Batali, Lauer, and Rose are all rich, having profited for years off a system that protected them from accusations leveled by people with less money and power. They don’t need to rush back to work. They can afford early retirement or lengthy public hiatuses ensconced in one of their multiple properties. And fans who miss their work and are eager for a “comeback” can buck up and let themselves be sated by many alternatives: In the streaming age, women who create the kind of dark, self-loathing, confessional comedy preferred by C.K. are currently thriving; lord knows people can find other recipes for marinara sauce or cinnamon rolls. But to demand that these men return to the spotlight too early, or in some cases at all, is to risk a cascading effect that will undo the necessary work of the #MeToo movement and to intimidate victims back into silence. Be warned: After Louis, le déluge.


  1. gijoel says

    Tang Caligula gropes all he wants and gets off scot free. Messers C.K et al are probably wondering why they can’t either.

  2. Artor says

    “But to demand that these men return to the spotlight too early, or in some cases at all, is to risk a cascading effect that will undo the necessary work of the #MeToo movement and to intimidate victims back into silence.”

    As intended.

  3. davidnangle says

    Let’s all gather ’round and sip of their wisdom with regards to the concept of Feminism and what a Feminist is.

  4. says

    Yeah, all I’ve got is that loon Rich Sanderson accusing me of sexual assault all over the place, but for some reason, I’m not getting a $4 million beach house out of it.

  5. Ragutis says

    Yeah, all I’ve got is that loon Rich Sanderson accusing me of sexual assault all over the place, but for some reason, I’m not getting a $4 million beach house out of it.

    Yeah, but an hour long interview with you on PBS would be pretty sweet. There’s no beaches in Morris anyway.

  6. unclefrogy says

    never over-estimate the taste of the masses nor underestimate the greed of the “producers”
    uncle frogy

  7. Anna Mathew says

    on the off chance that you were pondering, Rose has for the most part invested his energy perusing and requesting takeout in Bellport, Long Island, where he possesses a waterfront home esteemed somewhere close to $4 million and $6 million. UK Paper Help

  8. says

    I agree. It is for this reason why I won’t watch Ladybird and really glad it didn’t win an Oscar. Don’t want to forget the “enablers” left out.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Somebody please tell me Al Franken has enough residual decency to announce a personal boycott of this show.

  10. blf says

    After six months of #MeToo, the burning question seems to be: how soon can these guys come back?:

    Months are like dog years for men, so four months on the sidelines for a man is definitely the same as decades of groping for a woman

    Gosh, remember the #MeToo movement? That was exciting, wasn’t it? All that talk about how nothing was ever going to be the same again. No longer would men get away with sexually exploiting women, and powerful men who once seemed untopplable were duly toppled. Red lines, everyone said, had been drawn. And six months on from the beginning of this movement, there’s only one question, really, that is being asked: how soon can these guys come back?

    “Several powerful men, in several industries, have had their worlds kicked out from under them as the #MeToo movement has gathered momentum… Is a comeback possible?” an article in the New York Times recently asked about the American chef Mario Batali. Yes, the poor men! Those accusations really came out of nowhere for them. It might be worth interjecting at this point that Batali, a popular and powerful media figure in America, is alleged to have sexually harassed women for decades. But the allegations came out in December, and it’s April now, and we all know months are like dog years for men, and so four months on the sidelines for a man is definitely the same as decades of groping for women.


    [… M]en solemnly [explain] to women that a grope is really not the same as a rape, which is super helpful of them because if there’s one group who really aren’t clear about the severity of rape, it’s women. But increasingly when I hear someone say, Harassment isn’t as bad as rape, what they seem to be saying is, It isn’t that bad at all.

    All of these men are multimillionaires, so concerns about their current lack of employment are not based on them no longer being able to pay the gas bill. Rather, it shows that, despite the alleged realigning of power dynamics by #MeToo, men are still seen as the stars of the show and women as faceless background nobodies. You know, it’s that classic Hollywood plot: man strives for success, man gets success, man frantically masturbates in front of women and gives them the crusty paw, man makes glorious comeback. […] Increasingly it looks like #MeToo didn’t topple the patriarchy — it showed how tenacious the patriarchy is at enforcing its stranglehold.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    blf @ # 11 – LMFTFY: … men are still seen as the stars of the show and women as faceless background nobodies.

  12. blf says

    Harvey Weinstein appears to think that his time is not up:

    According to Piers Morgan […] Harvey Weinstein believes he will eventually be forgiven by Hollywood. The disgraced film producer — who has been accused of sexual assault and rape by more than 80 women, with criminal cases against him opened in New York, London and Los Angeles — appears to think that his time is not up […]


    It is the language deployed with such unthinking ease when men talk about men that is telling. Morgan refers to Weinstein as a fascinating character, an age-old way of excusing all sorts of bad behaviour under the guise of critical appreciation. In the #MeToo age, this covert form of defence is sadly making a comeback. For Morgan, Weinstein is less a man accused of multiple rapes and more the apocalyptic symptom of the whole thing: the casting couch finally brought to judgment. A description that denies Weinstein’s responsibility so apocalyptically, he is reduced to both symptom and inanimate object. In such arguments the “system” becomes the bad guy and the individual a mere product, as though powerful men don’t establish and run the systems which in turn enable them.

    In the meantime, as Weinstein reportedly makes efforts to produce a documentary telling his side of the story[] and an interview between two men about some of the most serious and sustained sexual assault allegations of our time is trailed in a men’s magazine, the more pressing question gets buried. Why, more than a month after Weinstein was reported to be “on the verge of arrest” by the NYPD, has it still not happened?

    Piers Morgan was the editor of the Daily Mirror at the time it was heavily engaged in hacking into mobile phones (especially voicemails).

      † The column’s cited reference (Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein Is Wearing a Fedora at Olive Garden, Planning a Documentary) has this undated correction: “A previous version of this story said Weinstein […] is planning a documentary about himself. According to an email from a representative, he is actually planning a doc about the opioid crisis.” Whilst it might be true that is what the alleged doc will be about, the claim might also be — considering on whose behalf it was made — an alternative fact.