Kavanaugh nemesis Alyssa Milano goes mum on sexual assault allegation against Biden
#MeToo heroine now finding it hard to 'believe all women.'
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Few celebrities speak louder on behalf of the #MeToo movement than Alyssa Milano.
The “Charmed” alum uses her massive Twitter flock, some 3.6 million strong, to slam Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, proclaim “Believe All Women,” and demand better conditions for women in and out of Hollywood.
That made her silence on the sexual abuse allegation lobbed last month against former Vice President Joe Biden both unexpected and, to some, troubling.
The progressive star’s silence suggests partisan politics are as much a factor as the credibility of allegations, according to several right-leaning voices. Even some fellow liberals have denounced Milano’s inability to call out a key member of her own party.
Former Biden staffer Tara Reade claims Biden sexually assaulted her back in 1993, a story she’s been trying to share for years without success. The media has covered the allegation sporadically, with major outlets giving it scant attention. Biden's campaign has strongly denied the allegations as false.
Milano, an early Biden backer, initially stayed mum on the allegation. Earlier this week she gave an exclusive interview to Andy Cohen, saying men deserve due process before any punishment can be meted out.
“I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos,” she told Cohen. Later, on Twitter, she declared she would no longer discuss the matter.
Back in 2018, Milano Tweeted this as a “Tuesday Thought:”
“You can’t pretend to be the party of the American people and then not support a woman who comes forward with her #MeToo story.”
Julie Gunlock, author and policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, applauds the #MeToo movement’s initial triumphs, including Hollywood’s efforts to rally for the cause.
“It has helped to illuminate this important issue,” Gunlock says, but adds Hollywood’s connection to the cause worried her from the start.
“They no doubt knew this was happening,” Gunlock says of convicted movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior.
“There were open jokes about this in Hollywood,” she adds, including a jab by Seth MacFarlane during the 2013 Academy Awards telecast. Addressing the five nominees for the best actress award, the Oscars host quipped: “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”
“At the time they were quiet about things they knew and saw,” Gunlock says, including members of the industry’s #MeToo activist vanguard.
Gunlock praises Milano for admitting sexual abuse allegations deserve a robust hearing — with a presumption of innocence. The actress’ timing, though, is troublesome.
“Too bad she couldn’t afford Kavanaugh any of that same sentiment,” she says.
Gunlock doesn’t think the silence from Milano, or from her Hollywood peers, will do much damage to the movement, though.
“The media doesn’t hold anyone accountable,” she says, noting that such stars will get nothing but softball questions on the subject from a friendly industry press content to give them a pass on their apparent double standard.
To date, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline.com haven’t covered Milano’s Biden response.
To her credit, Milano crossed party lines to say Sen. Al Franken should resign after the former “Saturday Night Live” star’s own #MeToo scandal broke late in 2017. “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo echoed Milano’s thoughts at the time.
Professor, radio personality and Denver Post columnist Krista Kafer suggests Milano’s apparently selective outrage mirrors our partisan age.
“It’s human nature,” the right-leaning Kafer says. “When the other tribe does it, it’s really awful. It’s a tribal response. People decide, ‘Hey I’m gonna have dual standards.’ I’m sure they’re coming up with some sort of justification.”
Kafer points to similarly politicized standards on the other side of the aisle.
“People who were disgusted with Bill Clinton could care less that Trump had allegations also of impropriety and loutish behavior,” Kafer says.
Milano’s Biden stance drew elements of the left and right together.
Progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald called the actress’ casual dismissal of Reade’s claims “astounding.”
Krystal Ball, a progressive journalist and co-host of The Hill’s “Rising with Krystal & Saagar,” also decried Milano for having two sets of rules on sexual harassment.
Milano’s former “Charmed” co-star, Rose McGowan, roasted the actress as a “fraud” for breaking from her “Believe all women” mantra.
Messages seeking comment from the National Organization for Women and Women in Film weren’t returned.
Teri Christoph, co-founder of the right-leaning Smart Girl Politics community and podcast, says Milano’s about-face on “Believe all women” reflects a history of Hollywood stars believing select women. She cites as one example the discrepancy between the secular sainthood accorded Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill compared with the blithe dismissal of President Bill Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions.”
Christoph prefers to see more bipartisan efforts, applauding a rare example of that from Milano herself. Last year, the actress joined Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a friendly but heated debate on gun control and afterwards had some “very nice things to say” about him, Christoph recalls.
“It was a really brave thing for her to do,” Christoph says, noting the senator’s past as an undergraduate debating champion. “Very few of us have the brain power to take on a Ted Cruz.”
Christoph, too, doubts Milano’s apparent double standard will impact Hollywood’s #MeToo agenda.
“I doubt she’s out there changing hearts and minds,” she says, adding most Americans tune out Hollywood messaging, be it about sexual abuse or climate change.
Christoph suggests Milano’s comments reflect a cold reality within her Tinseltown milieu.
“How could she survive in Hollywood if she said, ‘Maybe we should listen to this Tara Reade woman?’” she asks.None of this means the #MeToo movement should end, or that it’s work is complete, says Kafer.
“I think there’s a still a cleaning going on in different fields — politics, business, law, Hollywood, the music world,” Kafer says. “A new standard is being set. You don’t get to do this anymore.”
She hopes Milano’s now-discarded mantra gets left behind in the cultural melee.
“The idea you ‘believe all women’ is ridiculous,” Kafer says. “You can’t believe all of one group of people. There are people who make false accusations.”
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