Most people reacted with anger and disgust upon learning movie producer Harvey Weinstein allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted more than a dozen women over four decades. In contrast, conservative media outlets jumped at the chance to attack Hillary Clinton, take Democrats down a notch and pander to their viewers.
Clinton - a former Secretary of State and runner-up in the latest US presidential election - denounced Weinstein, a prominent contributor to the Democratic Party, five days after the news broke. Unsurprisingly, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren immediately implied she was a hypocrite for speaking out while remaining married to Bill Clinton, who has faced similar allegations. Arguably it's hypocritical for conservative pundits to attack Clinton over her ties to Weinstein and her husband while vocally supporting Donald Trump, who bragged about committing sexual assault on tape and faces multiple lawsuits from alleged victims. Moreover, Trump's cheerleaders at Fox News have conveniently overlooked the departures of former Fox chairman Roger Ailes and TV host Bill O'Reilly in the past 18 months amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Hypocrisy has become de rigueur in the Trump era. After criticising his predecessor for golfing too much, Trump has spent more than 70 days on golf courses this year, and he continues to decry unflattering press as 'fake news' while spreading lies from the podium. Nonetheless, it's disappointing that Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct has been used to assault the right's favourite punching bag, when the focus should be on the perpetrator and his alleged victims. It appears Republicans, tired of hearing about Trump's sordid past, leapt at the opportunity to pull Democrats into the mud with them. They also spotted a chance to castigate Clinton, a symbol of elitism, corruption, feminism, the status quo and other things despised by Trump supporters. Of course, neither Weinstein nor Clinton are president, making conservatives' response a case study in bias, tribalism and political point-scoring.
The same selective judgement is evident in Trump supporters' reaction to terrorism. After an Islamic terror attack, they immediately clamour for all Muslims to be denied entry to the US, deported or worse, and demand they denounce the terrorist's actions. Yet after the Las Vegas shooting, they responded by requesting politics be put aside for a period of mourning, and rushed to emphasise the actions of one gun owner don't reflect on all gun owners. They clamour for justice to be harsh, swift and indiscriminate when a Muslim is responsible, but plead for a fair, reasoned and proportionate response if a white American is at fault.
If the claims made against Weinstein are true, his behaviour and the broader culture of misogyny and abuse of power in Hollywood are the key issues to tackle, not his political affiliations or ties to politicians. Victims should be granted the opportunity to share their stories; their trauma shouldn't be leveraged to distract from others' crimes and mount cynical attacks on the opposition party. When the media becomes distracted by partisan sniping, it becomes harder to seek justice and push for change.