Barack and Michelle Obama now say they are “disgusted” by Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment accusations. But as president and first lady, oh my, how they loved the movie mogul’s cash and Hollywood glitz.
As a powerful pipeline to the Democrats’ cash machine in the entertainment industry, Mr. Weinstein raised millions of dollars for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
He and his wife, Georgina Chapman, hosted Mr. Obama for a high-end fundraiser at their home overlooking Long Island Sound in Westport, Connecticut, in August 2012. Other guests included actress Anne Hathaway, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.
“Obviously, Harvey and Georgina have just been great friends and have done so much for us, not just in this election but in the previous one,” Mr. Obama said in a dining room with two gold Oscar statues perched on a shelf.
Turning to Miss Hathaway, who had just appeared in the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” the president gushed, “She was the best thing in it. She’s spectacular.”
The actress blushed and smiled coyly.
The Obamas’ relationship with the movie producer went beyond campaign cash. Mr. Weinstein even arranged for Mrs. Obama to make a surprise appearance at the Oscars as a presenter in 2013.
The live audience in Hollywood gasped and applauded when the first lady, dressed in a shimmering silver gown, was beamed onto a screen at the venue to make the presentation for best picture.
“This has been an exciting year for movies,” Mrs. Obama said from the White House, surrounded by gold-braided U.S. military personnel. “I want to congratulate all the nominees on their tremendous work.”
It wouldn’t have happened without Mr. Weinstein, who met with the producers of the Oscars and members of the first lady’s staff two weeks before the show to hammer out details. They kept her appearance a secret, and it was later described as a “major coup” for Mr. Weinstein.
Later that year, Mrs. Obama hosted Mr. Weinstein at the White House with other Hollywood luminaries for a workshop for high school students who were interested in careers in the film industry.
“I want to start by thanking Harvey Weinstein for organizing this amazing day,” Mrs. Obama said. “This is possible because of Harvey. He is a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse.”
Mr. Weinstein had a piece of advice for the students: “I never let anybody tell me ‘no,’ even the White House.”
The Obamas’ daughter Malia was an intern at The Weinstein Co. this year before starting at Harvard University this fall.
The Obamas’ statement Tuesday night suggests, of course, that they didn’t know anything about Mr. Weinstein’s reported behavior, despite rumors that were rampant in Hollywood for more than a decade.
“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status,” Mr. and Mrs. Obama said.
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