When the actor Kevin Spacey came out of the closet on Sunday while apologizing to actor Anthony Rapp for sexual harassment, many onlookers were aghast by the conflation.
Many accused Spacey, 58, of attempting to deflect attention from Rapp’s claim that he was 14 when Spacey picked him up, “placed him on his bed and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” TV host Guy Branum called the diversionary tactic a “PR smokescreen.”
Now, several news outlets are being skewered for stumbling into Spacey’s trap.
As HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali noted on Twitter, the New York Daily News, ABC News and Reuters were among the news outlets that led their coverage of the scandal with the actor’s coming out rather than the harassment allegations.
Reuters tweeted a link to its Spacey story early Monday, saying the “Oscar-winning actor” had declared “he lives life as a gay man.”
The backlash was swift.
As criticism mounted, Reuters sent a second tweet about two hours later — this time with a decidedly different peg.
Reacting to some of the news coverage, Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong said it was alarming “how well” Spacey’s “cynical ploy” was working to distract and deflect.
Several other journalists, including Vulture reporter Mark Harris and Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro, also lambasted the approach taken by some outlets.
Actor and activist Rose McGowan, one of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims and an outspoken advocate for those affected by sexual violence, had a message for the media as Rapp’s allegations against Spacey began making headlines.
Rapp, who stars in “Star Trek: Discovery,” told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview that Spacey assaulted him at a party in 1986. The “House of Cards” actor was 26 at the time.