Feb 24, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 490 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: Wall Street had its worst day in two years following a spike in coronavirus cases in South Korea and Italy. Go deeper.

1 big thing: #MeToo gets Weinstein

A man carries out Weinstein's walker. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein is now a convicted rapist, two years and four months after accusations against him helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

Why it matters: To date, #MeToo has resulted in hundreds of powerful men losing their jobs. Seven have been criminally convicted, with four others still facing charges.

Between the lines: Prosecutors won a jury conviction for rape and assault that was based mostly on the credibility of the victims' testimonies.

  • Weinstein faces the possibility of 5–25 years, but was acquitted on three other charges, including predatory sexual assault.
  • "The case ... was an unusually risky one for Manhattan prosecutors, who had little or no physical or forensic evidence to support the women’s allegations," the N.Y. Times reports.
  • "[T]he jury accepted the complex set of facts prosecutors laid out, that [Mimi Haleyi] and [Jessica Mann] could be raped or sexually assaulted by Weinstein on one day and consent to sex with him or send him a warm note another — out of fear or denial, or out of deference to Weinstein’s economic power over them," Irin Carmon writes for NYMag.

The big picture: It took decades for Weinstein to face any accountability, and if not for the overwhelming number of accusers, it's hard to believe he would have faced criminal charges.

  • At least 90 women have accused Weinstein of misconduct, but the criminal charges he eventually faced in New York involved only two victims.
  • Manhattan's district attorney Cyrus Vance — who declined to charge Weinstein in 2015 over groping allegations — was a regular at the trial, the N.Y. Times notes.
  • Weinstein now faces an additional four felony charges in Los Angeles.

The bottom line: It wasn't the legal system that did the job and ended what was reportedly an open secret in Hollywood.

  • It was the result of accusers risking a great deal to come forward and powerful reporting by the N.Y. Times and New Yorker, which stood by their reporters in printing the stories in the face of Weinstein's legal threats.
Courtroom sketch of Weinstein being led out of court. Image: Elizabeth Williams via AP
Bonus: 1 person to know

Photo: NASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

NASA mathematician and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson, immortalized in the movie "Hidden Figures," died today at 101.

Why she mattered: Johnson calculated the trajectories for the major missions in the Space Race, putting Americans into orbit and eventually on the Moon.

  • Johnson was a trailblazer for black women, but "for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name," her N.Y. Times obit notes.

Worthy of your time (subscription)

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP
2. Catch up quick
  1. U.S. private equity returns fell just below S&P 500 returns for the 10-year period ending last June. Go deeper.
  2. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could reshape the bounds of First Amendment protections for religion. Go deeper.
  3. Cargill will begin producing "fake meat" products. Go deeper.
  4. Democrats are demanding new Russia sanctions over 2020 election interference. Go deeper.
3. 1 Kobe thing

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of people gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, reports Axios' Jacob Knutson.

  • Vanessa Bryant eulogized her late husband as "the kind of man that wanted to teach future generations better and keep them from making his own mistakes."
  • Bryant also tearfully paid tribute to her daughter, mentioning the milestones her family won't get to share but saying that she "most likely would have become the best player in the WNBA."

Photos and videos.

Mike Allen