Monday, February 10, 2014

Appalled but not surprised

Why the double standard for Woody Allen?

The Potemkin press critics at Fox and CNN continue to degrade themselves on the Woody Allen story.

On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” Brian Stelter worked right from the pro-Allen playbook. First, he minimized the problem, suggested that it was all Mia Farrow’s fault, and wished the story would go away.

This weekend, there are new allegations by both sides in the ugly family battle between Woody Allen and his step daughter Dylan Farrow. This would normally be a private matter, but instead, it's being bitterly fought out on Web sites and newspapers.
Note how Stelter downplays the accusation (“ugly family drama”) and suggests that victims should just shut up (“private matter”) and see a good shrink:

My producer pointed out before the show the kind of thing that would normally be playing out in a therapist's office.
Actually, for many people, “this kind of thing” results in a criminal investigation, visits from Children’s Services, or a grand jury.

He continued:

Well, yesterday, Allen did get his say. "The Times" published his lengthy rebuttal, blasting the allegation as false and blaming former girlfriend Mia Farrow for manipulating Dylan.

"I love her," he writes of his daughter, "and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter's well being."
All well and good, but a real critic might have at least read Maureen Orth’s piece in Vanity Fair and mentioned this:

4. Allen subsequently lost four exhaustive court battlesa lawsuit, a disciplinary charge against the prosecutor, and two appealsand was made to pay more than $1 million in Mia’s legal fees. Judge Elliott Wilk, the presiding judge in Allen’s custody suit against Farrow, concluded that there is “no credible evidence to support Mr. Allen’s contention that Ms. Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi.”

5. In his 33-page decision, Judge Wilk found that Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was “grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”
Stelter's guests (Dylan Byers, of "Politico" and Robin Abcarian of the "LA Times") followed the same line. Byers, however, set a new low for MSM coverage of the story:

I'd also just point that Ronan Farrow has a new show on MSNBC. We know that Ronan Farrow was the one who actually that mitigated the meeting between Dylan Farrow and "The Los Angeles Times" editorial page. You sort of have to wonder why is this coming up now, and does it have anything -- I'm not saying, I'm not siding with one side or the other, I'm just saying, does it have anything to do, (a), with an attempt to sort of take down Woody Allen, and (b), with an attempt to sort of cast more light on another member of the family who has a new show coming?
See, Dylan Farrow was doing it for the PR so she could boost her brother’s new TV show.

Fox’s Kurtz hit all these same points on his own:

Woody Allen and Philip Seymour Hoffman: Media enablers and finger-pointers

Here’s the timeline: Dylan tells Vanity Fair that she was abused at age 7. Woody wins a lifetime award at the Golden Globes. Ronan Farrow (who is either Woody’s kid or Frank Sinatra’s Mia says she isn’t sure) tweets in favor of his sister. (Ronan is about to launch an MSNBC show.)

Dylan writes a letter accusing Woody and gives it to New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, a longtime friend of Mia and Ronan, and Kristof runs it on his blog. (The Times public editor says she is “troubled” by this.) Woody demands equal time, and the Times runs his op-ed Sunday proclaiming his innocence and charging that the whole thing is part of a vilification campaign by Mia. (He also acknowledges the public did not accept his marriage to Soon-Yi, also an adopted daughter of Mia.) Another brother supports Woody. Dylan talks to the Hollywood Reporter, responding to Woody’s response to her.

What we are seeing is a highly dysfunctional family whose members are determined to blacken each other’s reputations. Whatever happened or didn’t happen in that Connecticut farmhouse two decades ago, Woody was not convicted. We have been plunged back into an old and heart-rending dispute because media people, some of them with agendas, have been happy to provide a forum.
There are a lot of interesting aspects to this story and the MSM’s discomfort in dealing with it. For instance, since when does the press only cover crime stories AFTER a conviction?

But right now, I just want to raise this question: Would either Stelter or Kurtz sit back and allow a guest to suggest that some of those who accused Jerry Sandusky or Catholic priests had selfish motivations? After all, the huge civil awards in those cases were much more tangible than PR and buzz for a sibling’s new TV show.

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