Friends star David Schwimmer says it’s a “horrifying mistake” to lump together the alleged sexual assaults of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein with the serial groping claims against comedian and former Democratic senator Al Franken.
“What we need is to allow for context, and to recognize a spectrum of bad behavior,” Schwimmer said in an interview with Esquire. “At the moment, because of the current climate, Al Franken is being lumped in with the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. This is a terrible—and horrifying—mistake.”
“We should not conflate all claims into one column of bad behavior,” the Friends star argued. “What concerns me is the frequent disregard of facts, context, evidence, and the rule of law. In this current climate, condemnation is swift and merciless. That’s another reason men are staying silent.”
Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual crimes ranging from harassment to rape, while Franken faced multiple allegations of groping and sexual harassment. Both men lost their careers as a result of the allegations.
Schwimmer added that there remains a “ring of truth” to the term “witch hunt” to describe the current climate in Hollywood surrounding claims of sexual harassment.
“With social media, leveling a claim against someone is exponentially worse. It’s easier, faster, more pervasive, and much more difficult to dispute,” he said.
“And if a person’s very livelihood relies on favorable publicity and perception, then a single story in this current climate—whether true or not—can totally destroy a career in the entertainment industry,” he continued.
Schwimmer was recently signatory to an open letter from actors, producers, and other influential figures calling on men to increase their efforts to help stop the sexual harassment culture that appears to be pervasive in the entertainment industry.
The campaign, entitled #AskMoreOfHim, acknowledged that men have a “special responsibility to prevent abuse from happening in the first place” and that men “must make it clear to other men… that sexual harassment and abuse are never acceptable.”