The men in media, entertainment and government accused of sexual harassment - Axios
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The powerful men accused this week of sexual harassment

From left: Actor Kevin Spacey, former U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, actor Dustin Hoffman, former NPR news chief Micahel Oreskes, director Brett Ratner. Photos: AP

In the month since the first allegations against Harvey Weinstein shook Hollywood the number of men, accused of sexual harassment and sexual abuse grows every day. This week actor Kevin Spacey, U.K. defense secretary Michael Fallon, U.S. congressmen, and several others were added to the list.

The bottom line: After decades of staying silent out of fear of backlash, victims of sexual abuse are coming forward, creating an environment where sexual predators in every walk of professional life are nervous of being exposed.

The men accused this week:

House of Cards star Kevin Spacey

  • Actor Anthony Rapp said Monday that Spacey had invited him to a party at his apartment back in 1986 where he made unwanted sexual advances toward him. Rapp was 14 years old and Spacey was 26.
  • Spacey responded to the allegation on Twitter, claiming that he didn't remember the encounter, "But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."
  • In the same note, Spacey announced that he's chosen to "live as a gay man." Several critics quickly met his statement with backlash online, arguing that it was an inappropriate time to come out, calling it a calculated PR move that shouldn't detract from the serious allegation.

Domino effect:

  • Mexican actor Roberto Cavazos, who worked with Spacey at the Old Vic theater in London, said Spacey "routinely preyed" on young male actors there.
  • Another man told the BBC that he was left "uncomfortable at best, traumatized at worst" after waking up with Spacey lying on him in 1985. The man was 17 at the time.
  • Filmmaker Tony Montana told Radar Online that he was left with PTSD for six months after he claimed Spacey "forcefully" grabbed his "whole package" in a Los Angeles bar in 2003.
  • British barman Daniel Beal claimed Spacey flashed him his private parts, saying, "It's big, isn't it?" He then allegedly tried to get the then 19-year-old to touch him and to come up to his room.
  • Eight current and former House of Cards employees accused Spacey of sexual harassment and, in one case, assault. The victims described his behavior to CNN as "predatory" and claimed it caused a "toxic" work environment
  • The fallout: Netflix suspended production on the sixth and final season of House of Cards "until further notice."

U.K. defense minister Michael Fallon

  • Julia Hartley-Brewer, an English broadcast journalist, said Fallon inappropriately touched her knee in 2002.
  • The fallout: Fallon resigned, stating that his past behavior may have "fallen short" of expectations for someone in his position. His resignation has led to speculation that more serious allegations about his behavior were about to be revealed.

U.S. congressmen

  • One current and three former female lawmakers claim that they have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments by fellow members of Congress, ranging from isolated events to repeated unwanted come-ons and even groping on the House floor, according to AP.
  • Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) said she endured comments from one member for years, including him telling her he'd been thinking about her in the shower.
  • Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said back in the 1980s, a male colleague made a sexually suggestive comment that he wanted to "associate with the gentle lady."
  • Former Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) said she remembers repeated unwanted harassing overtures from one lawmaker.
  • Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said when she was a young and new member of Congress, a more senior, married member "outright propositioned" her. He's still in Congress. She also said a different male colleague repeatedly ogled her and one time even touched her inappropriately on the House floor.

U.K. members of Parliament

  • A spreadsheet compiling allegations against 40 Conservative MPs is currently making the rounds.
  • The London Evening Standard broke a story Wednesday about a Conservative aide allegedly having her drink spiked at the House of Commons bar, which is only accessible to MPs and their guests.
  • Another woman victim said a Conservative MP she worked for sexually assaulted her in her office at the House of Commons, approaching her from behind and grabbing at her crotch.
  • The fallout: A House of Commons spokesman said: "Allegations of criminal activity on the Parliamentary Estate are a matter for the police. Any police investigation carried out as a result of such allegations would have Parliament's full cooperation." The allegations have also sparked backlash online and from other MPs, and could lead to more resignations following Fallon's.

NPR news chief Michael Oreskes

  • The allegations: Two female journalists told the Washington Post that Oreskes, then the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, abruptly stuck his tongue in their mouths while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper.
  • The fallout: Oreskes announced his resignation Wednesday. "I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility."

Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman

  • Writer Anna Graham Hunter told The Hollywood Reporter that when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of a television adaptation of Death of a Salesman, Hoffman repeatedly groped her and "talked about sex to me and in front of me."
  • Writer and producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis told Variety that when she was a struggling playwright in 1991, Hoffman, 53 at the time, allegedly asked, "Wendy -- have you ever been intimate with a man over 40? ... It would be a whole new body to explore," before inviting her to go shopping for clothes at a nearby hotel.
  • The fallout: Following the first allegation, Hoffman publicly apologized, and said "anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

"Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner

  • Actress Natasha Henstridge said she was 19 when Ratner, then 20, allegedly forced her to perform oral sex.
  • Actress Olivia Munn claimed Ratner masturbated in front of her in his trailer when she went to deliver a meal, and later "boasted of ejaculating on magazine covers featuring her image."
  • Actress Jaime Ray Newman alleged in 2005 Ratner loudly described sex acts he wanted to perform on her in explicit detail during a flight.
  • Actress Katherine Towne said she met Ratner at a party in 2005 where he allegedly came onto her "in a way that was so extreme." When she tried to excuse herself, he followed her into a bathroom.
  • Eri Sasaki, then a 21-year-old with a role as an extra in one of Ratner's films, claimed Ratner approached her, ran his index finger down her bare stomach and asked if she wanted to go into a bathroom with him. When she said no, he allegedly said "Don't you want to be famous?"
  • Jorina King, then a background actress, said Ratner asked her to come to his trailer and allegedly demanded to see her breasts. She declined and hid in a restroom.
  • The fallout: Warner Bros. cut ties.

Country music publicist Kirt Webster

  • Austin Cody Rick, then a budding musician and recent college graduate, accused Webster, who's repped stars like Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Jr., and Kid Rock, of "repeatedly" sexually assaulting him. "[H]e drugged and sexually violated me, he offered me publicity opportunities and magazine columns in exchange for sexual acts. He paid me to keep my mouth shut. And he did everything under the threat that he'd make sure nobody in the industry ever heard my name again," Rick wrote in a Facebook post.
  • Cody Andersen, then an intern at Webster's PR firm, told Fox News that Webster told him he was gay and allegedly followed him into the bathroom and asked him if he wanted to have sex. Andersen also alleged that Webster once asked him to join him in a hot tub, naked.
  • Five other former Webster employees claimed to Fox News that they had also been sexual harassed. They described instances where they alleged Webster touched them inappropriately, showed them porn in the office, and made sexually-charged comments in front of clients during staff meetings.
  • The fallout: Despite Webster's denial of the allegations, Kid Rock, Randy Travis and Dolly Parton, among other top clients, cut ties. His PR firm, Webster PR, has also deleted its client page from the company's website and changed the firm's name to "Westby PR." Westby told Fox News that Webster is not involved in Westby PR in any capacity.

Comedian Andy Dick

  • Sources detailed Andy Dick's inappropriate behavior, which allegedly included groping people's genitals, unwanted kissing and licking, and sexual propositions.
  • Dick, who "vehemently denied" the claims, told The Hollywood Reporter that it's possible he licked people and confirmed that he had made advances on others.
  • The fallout: Although Dick denies the allegations, he was dropped from the independent feature film Raising Buchanan as well as from the horror comedy Vampire Dad.

Entourage star Jeremy Piven

  • Ariane Bellamar, an actress, reality TV star and Playboy Playmate, alleged in a string of tweets that Piven "forcefully" groped her on the set of "Entourage" and at the Playboy Mansion. She also claimed he sent her "sexual" and "threatening" text messages.
  • Piven "unequivocally" denied the accusations in a statement to PEOPLE. "[M]y hope is that the allegations about me that didn't happen, do not detract from stories that should be heard."
  • The fallout: Piven's pre-taped interview with Stephen Colbert for "The Late Show" was pulled.
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It's our first Thanksgiving here at Axios, a fine occasion in its own right to raise a glass and polish off a few plates of food. The big meal seemed like a good time to invite helping hands into the kitchen, so we asked a group of chefs and food writers for their favorite holiday tips.

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Sessions orders review of firearm background check database

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to review the U.S. database used for background checks on firearm buyers, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: Sessions used the Sutherland Springs shooting as evidence of a need to review the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), as the shooter was able to buy a gun despite having been convicted of domestic assault. The Air Force said it failed to enter his information into the federal database.


Lyft is raising another $500 million

Josh Edelson / AP

Ride-hail company Lyft is raising up to $500 million in additional funding, according to a share authorization document filed yesterday in Delaware. This comes one month after Lyft announced a $1 billion infusion led by CapitalG, an investment arm of Google parent Alphabet. A company spokesman stresses that the $500 million is not yet closed, but adds: "Increasing the potential for this round will allow us to further accelerate our commitment to serving passengers and drivers."

Details: The new investment would be an extension of the CapitalG-led round, at the same share price of $39.75. That means the $10 billion pre-money valuation remains static, but the post-money could now value Lyft at $11.5 billion.

Below is the Delaware document, which was provided to Axios by Lagniappe Labs (creator of the Prime Unicorn Index)


Two more women say Franken groped them

Sen. Al Franken. Photo: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Two women told the Huffington Post that Sen. Al Franken "touched their butts" in unrelated incidents. Four women have now accused Franken of unwanted contact.

Why it matters: Senate leadership have called for an Ethics Committee investigation into the Minnesota senator, which Franken himself has said he will cooperate with.

  • One woman said Franken groped her during a photo at an event hosted by the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus in 2007: "People are saying that this is a right-wing conspiracy...It's not. I'm a liberal person...I voted for him after this happened."
  • The second woman said Franken "cupped her butt" in 2008 at a Democratic fundraiser: "My immediate reaction was disgust...but my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have this happen really deflated me."

ICE is seeking a program to monitor the social media of visa-holders

ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, during a targeted enforcement operation. Photo: ICE via AP

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said at a tech industry conference last week they are seeking algorithms that can "conduct ongoing social media surveillance" of visa holders that are considered high risk, according to ProPublica.

Why it matters: The announcement of the program, later named "Visa Lifecycle Vetting," spurred backlash from civil liberty groups and immigrants. ProPublica notes that, taken in conjunction with Trump's calls for "extreme vetting" and his campaign proposal for a Muslim ban, there is concern it could be discriminatory toward Muslim visa holders. Acting deputy association director for information management at ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Alysa Erichs, said the goal is to have "automated notifications about any visa holders' social media activity that could 'ping us as a potential alert.'"

  • But, but, but: According to Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, ICE is "building a dangerously broad tool that could be used to justify excluding, or deporting, almost anyone."
  • A group of engineers, computer scientists, and other academics wrote to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke of their "grave concerns" about the program, saying it would likely be "inaccurate and biased."
  • Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokeswoman, told ProPublica the "request for information...was simply that - an opportunity to gather determine the best way forward."

Peter Thiel might try to buy

Kevin Moloney / Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire investor who funded ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, is seeking to pause the sales process of the now-defunct website, arguing that he was unfairly excluded from making a bid, according to a bankruptcy court filing obtained by BuzzFeed.

Why it matters: The buyer of (the rest of Gawker Media's properties were acquired by Univision last year) will be able to do with its contents as they please, including deleting specific articles. There are still ongoing legal actions over a few articles in the archive. Though Thiel never admitted as much, it was long rumored that his decision to help Hogan was fueled by unflattering coverage of him and his business activities over the years, including a 2007 story about the fact that he is gay.


The blowback from Uber's data breach

A man exits the Uber offices in Austin, Texas. Photo: Eric Gay / AP

Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut are planning investigations into Uber's recently announced 2016 breach that left 57 million customers' and drivers' data vulnerable to criminals, and the FTC might launch a probe as well, according to Recode.

Why it matters: Most states (48) have some form of a law requiring companies to reveal data breaches to consumers, but Uber did not immediately disclose the details to consumers and reportedly tried to cover up the hack.

The FTC may also launch a probe into Uber, Recode reports, citing two sources who say Uber has already briefed the agency. The FTC said it was looking into the matter.

  • The FTC just penalized Uber in August for other privacy and security practices and had asked Uber to maintain all records related to privacy and security for investigators. This apparent cover-up could throw a wrench in those conclusions issued in August.
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the FTC to take "swift enforcement action and impose significant penalties" on Uber, and Rep. Frank Pallone is calling for a Congressional hearing on the matter.

Global blowback: Authorities in Australia and the Philippines said they would also be investigating, and the UK's data protection regulator brought up potential penalties for Uber, per Reuters.

Bottom line: The news is not good for Uber on a global scale. It could face penalties and fines in addition to paying the steep legal price associated with suits after a year filled with other headaches related to security, privacy, and its culture.


Men behaving badly

The bombshell report from The New York Times last month on decades of sexual harassment and assault by producer Harvey Weinstein started a domino effect as other women spoke out about mistreatment by men in positions of power.


Trump Org. walking away from SoHo hotel

The Trump Soho hotel. Photo: Seth Wenig / AP

The Trump Organization has made a deal allowing it to walk away from the Trump SoHo hotel by the end of the month, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Per the Times, the hotel has "struggled to attract guests" and had to close its main restaurant in April due to what the restaurant's lawyer called a "decline in business since the election." The Trump Org. faced several lawsuits over building the hotel, per the Times, one of which alleged it "was backed by felons and financing from Russia." Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, who has been in the news following the election for having pushed for a Trump Tower in Moscow, was involved in the deal.


Video released of North Korean defector crossing DMZ

Photo: United Nations Command via AP.

A video just released by the United Nations shows the North Korean soldier who defected to the South on November 13th making his getaway in a green jeep, running towards the border separating Panmunjom, North Korea from the South, and then collapsing on the South Korean side.

Why it matters: The event amounts to a violation of the armistice, since he was shot five times in his successful effort to defect from the North Korean regime, South Korea says. He was ultimately rescued by South Korean soldiers. Pyongyang has yet to say anything about the defection but the UN Command says it has requested a meeting to discuss the apparent armistice violations.

The scene, per the AP's Foster Klug: "It's 3:11 p.m. on a cold, gray day on the North Korean side of the most heavily armed border in the world, and a lone soldier is racing toward freedom."

  • "His dark olive-green jeep speeds down a straight, tree-lined road, past drab, barren fields and, headlights shining, across the replacement for the Bridge of No Return..."
  • "The shock of soldiers watching the jeep rush by is palpable from the video released Wednesday and no wonder: They're beginning to realize that one of their comrades is defecting to the South."
  • The defector crashes his jeep into a ditch.
  • The South says North Koreans fired about 40 rounds from AK-47s and rifles at the defector. No fire was exchanged between North and South Koreans.
  • The defector makes it over the border, and then turns around and runs back towards the North before collapsing by the wall. South Koreans crawl to pull him to safety.
  • "The entire sequence, from the first appearance of the jeep to the soldier's frenzied crossing, lasts four minutes."

A clue to life in North Korea: The defector had two surgeries to repair internal organ damage and is conscious. Surgeons "removed dozens of parasites from the soldier's ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea's military."