Seth Meyers on Slow Walking the Weinstein Story

The Harvey Weinstein story is an unusual one in that for once, the rest of the country is consumed with the same issue that’s currently gripping Hollywood.  A lot of that has to do with the sex angle—as the media well know, sex sells and a sex scandal creates juicy headlines that the public can easily understand;  but in this case there’s also the fame, with a lot of well-known names tossed into mix and making for an irresistible cocktail.  Add to that the sheer scale of Weinstein’s alleged wrongdoing, and what you have is a story that has jumped beyond the bounds of news into the realm of cultural phenomenon.

So where are the late night hot takes?

Not since Bill played cigar aficionado with Monica in the Oval Office has there been a subject so ripe for comedic plucking—and yet the after-hours comedy set has been sluggish to take up the subject.  Stephen Colbert, who once gleefully called the president Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster, has had little to say about where Harvey has been sticking his.  Lorne Michaels, meanwhile, made a lame excuse for SNL, saying that it was “a New York thing” that nobody else would care about—as if they ever cared how a skit played in Peoria.

Seth Meyers, whose show Late Night was also late to the party, offered his own take on why the late night comedy establishment dragged its feet when it came to Weinstein.  The former “Weekend Update” anchor explained to The Hollywood Reporter that it was discretion, rather than squamishness, that dictated the decision:

“You know, it happened on Thursday, and we only had a show on Thursday [before Monday],” Meyers told THR. “And I was not prepared to talk about something as tricky as sexual assault in a way that I felt would be appropriate that quickly. I felt we responded to it as fast as we respond to anything else.”

Having worked in television production before, I can certainly appreciate the challenges of getting in last-minute script changes and changing a show around to accommodate breaking content—but something in Meyer’s statement here rings untrue.  First off, the staff had an entire three days to digest the Weinstein story and riff on it.  I’m not a professional comedy writer, but even I can come up with a joke faster than that.

Hey, it’s not like I’m saying that Harvey has a problem with women—but when Wilt Chamberlain calls you up and says, “Dude, slow down!  Pace yourself!” it might be time to give it a rest.

On the bright side, though, at least one other producer is happy.  Dick Wolf’s show  Law & Order: Special Victims Unit now won’t need to rip anything else from the headlines for the next ten years.

See how easy that is?

Secondly, Seth Meyers is a creature of New York.  His show is taped there.  He’s a veteran of SNL, which is also taped there.  As Lorne Michaels made clear, New York is Harvey Weinstein’s town—so it stretches credulity to think that Meyers was unaware of Weinstein’s proclivities.  If he didn’t already have a mile of material lined up on the subject, then maybe late night comedy isn’t really his thing.

Or, as T. Becket Adams tweeted:

Adams may be on to something there.  Far from being a “tricky” subject, as Meyers put it, Weinstein’s alleged sex abuse is pretty straightforward—as the enterainment industry’s facilitation of it.  Perhaps that’s why NBC News originally spiked the story, before The New Yorker decided to run with it.  Too many people in the enterainment/media complex had covered for Weinstein or looked the other way—and a lot of them probably work for NBC.

And Late Night is an NBC show.

The news division slow walks the story, and the entertainment division slow walks the story.  Can that be mere coincidence?

If you believe that, the joke’s on you.

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Marc Giller

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