Column: The bravery of Jennifer Siebel Newsom facing Harvey Weinstein — and facing us all — is one of the most important stories of our time. “The Weinstein scandal has been one of the most damaging cases of sexual harassment in recent memory,” Newsom wrote in her op-ed published this week. “It took years for me to recognize the pain and helplessness, the anguish and despair, that followed for the victims of sexual harassment and assault, and the courage required to tell their stories, no matter how many people were involved.” Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, is running to be the next governor of California and is running to become the Democratic nominee for vice president. She is running against former Vice President Joe Biden for the party’s presidential nomination, and she’s running against Senator Kamala Harris, who has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker.
While the issue of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse has dominated headlines this week, the story is far more complicated. It’s difficult to say how many people knew of Weinstein’s predatory behavior — and whether and how many were affected as a result — but the New York Times counted roughly 60 instances where Weinstein allegedly assaulted women over more than 20 years through 2014 at the company he founded, Miramax. After decades of abuse, the Times detailed, Weinstein “eventually pleaded guilty to felony counts of predatory sexual assault.”
Some of the women who made accusations against Weinstein have spoken critically of the industry for more than two decades. The New Yorker reported that when Miramax, then the oldest film company in Hollywood, did not have a sexual harassment policy, “some of the women left, and some of the men were fired,” leaving Weinstein with “a company without an official policy that women were not wanted there.” Weinstein paid an “infinite amount of money” to settle a reported class-action lawsuit out of court alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.
Newsom, who graduated second in her class from Stanford University with a degree in film and television, has previously expressed frustration with the system. In an opinion piece published by the Times in 2016, “How Our Culture Breaks Down,” she wrote, “It’s all in the name of art. We have a free market in the arts