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Like the DNA test you gave your dog to learn how many noble breeds came together to create one dumb mutt, the spit test on this year’s wide variety of TV controversies seem to all lead back to Donald Trump.
Attacks on TV news? NFL ratings slump? Relentless march of powerful TV industry men accused of grabbing, groping, sexual assault and harassment?
Trump, Trump, and Trump.
Here is a look at some of the big TV controversies of 2017:
In October 2016, the Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump boasted he was so famous he could grab women “by the p*ssy” with impunity. He acknowledged its authenticity, dismissed his sexual assault boast as “locker room talk.” One month later, he was elected President of the United States.
Not coincidentally, journalists began looking into persistent grapevine rumblings of other powerful men who had gotten away with sexual harassment/assault for years. One year later, The New York Times published its blockbuster report about Harvey Weinstein having paid off sexual harassment accusers for decades, followed closely by a New Yorker article in which additional women made similar claims against the Hollywood producing mogul. Weinstein has denied all claims and has not been charged with any crimes. The #MeToo hashtag, launched a decade earlier by activist Tarana Burke, blew up as other women came forward with their own reports of sexual harassment and abuse.
Among the high-profile TV industry names ousted in 2017:
In October,Netflix announced that Kevin Spacey, star and executive producer of House of Cards, would no longer be involved in the series if it hoped to continue on the streaming network, after multiple credible sexual misconduct allegations. He’s not, and it is, for one final season. Netflix also pulled the plug on its Spacey-starring movie Gore, which had been in post-production.
Same month, Roy Price resigned as head of Amazon Studios, days after details emerged about his having allegedly propositioned The Man in the High Castle executive producer Isa Hackett Dick. At about the same time actress Rose McGowan tweeted she’d told Price that Weinstein raped her and he should not do business with the mega-producer — after which, she claimed, her Amazon project was killed.
October also saw reality TV personality/actress Ariane Bellamar make specific accusations on social media that CBS’ Wisdom of the Crowd star Jeremy Piven groped her on the set of Entourage and at the Playboy Mansion several years ago. CBS said it was “looking into the matter,” and next month said it was not moving forward with additional order after first 13 eps, while not specifying if that was due to allegations, modest ratings, or both.
Same month, Louis C.K.‘s comedy empire began unraveling when New York Timespublished an exposé that included multiple allegations he masturbated in front of women, often colleagues from the comedy world. The Orchard canceled the New York premiere of his film I Love You, Daddy, subsequently terminating its release (and later confirming it was wrapping a deal to sell global rights back to C.K.) Meanwhile, FX cut ties to the actor-writer-producer, Netflix canceled his stand-up special, Night of Too Many Stars, dropped him from the lineup, HBO removed his past projects from its on-demand services. C.K. issued a statement saying that after spending “my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want, I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
Also in November, CBS News terminated Charlie Rose, citing a Washington Post report about “extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior” alleged by eight women. PBS announced it cut ties to Rose a couple hours later.
NBC News sacked Matt Lauer a week later, over credible claims of sexual misconduct. He was axed just before reports from Variety and TheNew York Times alleging sexual harassment claims against the news division star; sources report that NBC News execs had been aware publication was imminent.
Not quite a month after jettisoning Rose, PBS suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley’s late night talk show after looking into allegations of sexual misconduct. He has threatened to sue, warning “millions of taxpayer dollars are going to be spent by PBS defending itself.”
In December, E! parted ways with The Royals creator/EP/showrunner Mark Schwahn due to sexual harassment allegations against him made by female cast and crew of his previous series, One Tree Hill.The Royals producer Lionsgate TV and Universal Cable Productions also fired him.
Fox News Channel parent 21st Century Fox cut ties with Bill O’Reilly in April, ending his 21-year run as host of flagship show at the country’s most watched cable news network. The stunning decision followed a New York Times report that O’Reilly and FNC paid nearly $13M to settle cases with five women going back 15 years. Some industry pundits called O’Reilly the flotsam and jetsam of the Murdochs’ pending $14 billion takeover of European pay-TV provider Sky and a deadline for British media regulators to decide whether the Murdochs were fit to own the huge media property.
COVFEFE OVER “FAKE NEWS”
The fun began the day after Trump was sworn in, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, in a hastily called Saturday briefing, blasted the press for reports that Donald Trump’s inaugural crowd had not matched former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration:
By February, Trump had taken to calling the press the Enemy of the People:
It went over so well that Trump used it to wow the crowd at the the Conservative Political Action Conference – the first time a first-year president had addressed CPAC since Ronald Reagan: