Thursday, October 15, 2009

Momentum. Or, Cokie Roberts on Polanski.

Check out this exchange from The Green Room segment of This Week:

UNIDENTIFIED PRODUCER: We have a little bit of time left. There were two issues slated to talk about on the roundtable. Two sordid issues. Roman Polanski and David Letterman. Talk a little bit about those two. And why do people care?

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, they’re very different from each other. I mean, I think that the David Letterman situation is not a good situation. You know, there’s an inherent power imbalance in a boss versus his employees. But, Roman Polanski is a criminal. You know, he raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out and shoot him.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Oh, no. Cokie. Now, we’re both mothers of daughters and I think, Roman Polanski, there should be no dual system of justice in this country. He should not be privileged because he’s a famous director or even because he was a victim of the Holocaust. But, I think one needs to see the documentary which was made that I thought was very powerful in showing judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. That doesn’t mean that he should have fled the country. I think he needs to come back, not fight extradition. But find an appropriate way of serving time and doing justice at this stage. But, I think to say shoot him is obviously not a polite response in a Sunday morning-

MATTHEW DOWD: To me- To me, this is reflective of- To me, the whole Roman Polanski thing is reflective of a huge segment of Hollywood that somehow thinks because you’re part of their clique and you’re successful in their clique, you stand outside the law. And they wouldn’t have that view of anyone outside this country. Someone from rural Alabama or from rural Mississippi that did something, they would be like, "Go after them. Go after them. Go after them." In this case, it’s a commentary on Hollywood that they would allow him to not be held accountable, think it’s okay after the heinous crimes he committed for him not to be held accountable for it.

GEORGE WILL: Yes. The Hollywood view is Chinatown is a good movie. Therefore, the fact that he used a Quaalude and Champagne to drug and rape a 13-year-old is, in the words of Harvey Weinstein, a representative of Hollywood’s monochrome culture, it is a so-called crime. Now, if Chinatown had not been a good movie, we might have to rethink this.

A couple of things jump out at me. While I don't, of course, agree that Polanski should be shot (and I doubt Cokie Roberts really thinks that either), it is refreshing to see members of the media take a stance against rape. Especially after all the mealy-mouth dismissals of this "so-called" rape. And I also appreciate Roberts' comments on the Letterman situation, since this is something that hardly anyone will say. But I find it very interesting how the social momentum seems to work here. In other cases, where you have one media personality reporting on the story by themselves, they're almost always very hedgy. It's been referred to as "not actually rape-rape," as "an incident," and even simply as just plain ol' sex. So this exchange is interesting because Roberts comes out with a very strong statement first, and then the others basically back her. But I suspect that it would have been different if the first person to speak had parroted the Hollywood line of defending Polanski. But because I like and respect Cokie Roberts I would like to think she would have spoken out against Polanski no matter what the others in the group said. I would hope.


  1. I'm gonna be optimistic here and believe (hope?) they would have taken this position no matter what the first person had said.

  2. Maybe the journalists who continue to portray it as this sorta controversial thing are doing so because they're officialy on camera and kind of representing their networks, but this discussion was in a less formal setting and something that would only be online.

  3. Cokie Roberts is good people. She has always tried to do the right thing, be it on NPR or wherever. I agree that the killing thing is a bit strong, but maybe that's the message that needs to be sent. Particularly if it serves to differentiate between clear cases like this and other situations that are in no way so clear cut.

    I'm exceptionally frustrated that Polanski advocates would use this opportunity to "question" the fact that a rape has taken place since he has already admitted to the act. It doesn't help anyone.

  4. I'm exceptionally frustrated that Polanski advocates would use this opportunity to "question" the fact that a rape has taken place since he has already admitted to the act.

    Yes! I don't get this at all. I guess it would be different if there was little evidence and nobody really knew for sure what actually happened. But, Christ, he admits to it!

  5. Anonymous10/16/2009

    Maybe the people who are questioning it are embarassed to be in this role of rape-apologists, but they want to support Polanski, so they feel like they need to deny the facts that he admits to in order to advocate for him but still see themselves as not rape-apologists.

  6. What a pathetic routine to have to go through just to convince yourself that your a good person. WHy not just stop engaging in rape apologies?