When Woody Allen broke his silence over accusations that he’d sexually assaulted his adopted daughter, his comments ended with the parenthetical note, “This column will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party.”
But plenty of people have since spoken out – if not on Allen’s behalf, then in his favor. And Allen’s longtime publicist has made sure that the filmmaker’s supporters are being heard, forwarding links to pro-Allen commentary to a select email list that includes television networks, print and online journalists, film executives and producers and other public-relations execs.
On Tuesday alone, for instance, Leslee Dart of 42 West sent out four emails in less than three-and-a-half hours — a barrage that could be seen as overkill on behalf of a client who has vowed silence, but one that has also been part of an offensive that appears to have given Hollywood enough evidence not to condemn Allen.
(Whether it will prove to be as effective with the general public has yet to be seen.)
Tuesday’s emails began with a link to a Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Cohen that began with the line, “The defenestration of Woody Allen started Feb. 2 with a column in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof,” and takes both the Times and Kristof, in whose column the original Dylan Farrow accusations were made, to task for being negligent and imbalanced.
Less than 10 minutes later, she sent out a link to a column from TheDish that referenced a Dory Previn song called “With My Daddy in the Attic” (Previn’s husband Andre divorced her for Mia Farrow), and also included extensive reader comments about implanted memories and false accusations that swept daycare providers around the time of the McMartin case in Los Angeles.
An hour later, Dart sent a a third email linking to a Huffington Post story by David J. Toussaint criticizing the way in which Nicholas Kristof presented Dylan Farrow’s letter, and concluding that “the evidence points to Allen’s innocence” and “when it comes to push-button topics, facts are considered insulting; sound bites are divine.”
And two hours after that, she sent a link to a piece in Psychology Today that begins with the line, “At the turn of the 20th century, lynchings of African Americans were not only commonplace, but when the media — largely newspapers at the time — covered them, they almost always did so as if they were deserved.” The focus of the piece was the media’s “mob mentality,” and how it created an unfair rush to judgment.
“As I have said in an earlier essay, I don’t know if Woody Allen is guilty or not,” wrote cultural anthropologist Janice Harper. “But what I do know is that the manner in which the accusations against [Allen] have been presented by the media constitutes mobbing, by any definition of the term.”
Dart has been on the offensive since the day after the allegations were first published, when she issued a statement saying that Allen found the story “untrue and disgraceful,” and asking the media to point out that no charges were filed, and a 1992 investigation found “no credible evidence of molestation.”
And after Allen’s own response, which made the same points and also attacked Mia Farrow on a number of fronts, Dart continued to send links to stories that bolstered Allen’s story.
The court of public opinion isn’t close to rendering a verdict in the mess, and it is still possible for the allegations to seriously affect Allen’s life and career. But in his first five days of “silence” since he delivered his last word on the subject, Woody Allen appears to have a loud voice on his side.