As a journalist and lover the truth, I’ve always had the utmost respect for Barbara Walters and her amazing career. However, despite my admiration for the 84-year-old talk show host, right is still right and wrong is still wrong and I have no problem calling her out when those facts are crossed.
I cringed as I watched Monday’s episode of “The View.” If you missed it, Walters vociferously defended Woody Allen, the film director accused of sexual assault by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. In an open letter published by the New York Times on Sunday, the 28-year-old detailed her alleged molestation at age 7 and criticized the Golden Globes for awarding Allen with a lifetime achievement a few weeks ago.
“I’ve been with Woody many times with his two daughters, he’s got almost a twenty-year-old marriage…I have rarely seen a father as sensitive, and as loving and as caring as Woody is to his daughters,” Walters said. “I don’t know about Dylan, I can only tell you about what I’ve seen now, that it’s a good marriage and that he’s a loving, caring father.”
Walters went on to say that Farrow must be “very angry” and the only reason she’s speaking out against the Hollywood heavyweight now is “because he’s up for an award.” The conversation turned into a heated debate after co-host Sherri Shepherd rightfully interjected. “We’ve heard so many cases where he was the most wonderful person in the world,” she argued, adding there are “many things that go on behind closed doors.”
Shepherd was right. Whether he’s “a loving, caring father” is not the issue. That argument would only be valid if all child molesters were openly crappy people. But reality check Barbara, “loving” fathers commit heinous acts, too. And considering Allen’s track record with younger women (his current wife Soon Yi was 17-year-old when they started dating), it’s hard for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.
As I watched Barbara Walters defend Allen, I wanted to look her in the eye and say “Please, just stop!” Let’s not contribute to a culture and atmosphere where victims are called liars for speaking their truth. Let’s not get caught up in the facade where “nice men” can’t be abusers. Let’s not tell our youth that they are to blame if a creep touches them inappropriately. That mindset is too bad to be justified or tolerated.
Allen denied the reports and called Farrow’s allegations “untrue and disgraceful.” While there’s no way for us to know exactly what happened in that attic over 20 years, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are abused each year, Barbara please remember to look behind face value and show support and sensitivity. People who blame the victims are a big reason why so many children — and adults! — “are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth.” In the words of Farrow, “The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.”
Social media is in uproar and I can smell an apology coming from Barbara’s way real soon. Check out the footage here.