I have seen this argument made mostly in the Fox News-y corners of the web, but it has begun to trickle into some incredibly jaded parts of the left and into some parts of the the mainstream. For example, here is the executive producer of Veep and writer-at-large, Frank Rich winking at this idea.
Rich doesn't seem to be making this argument, despite acknowledging its possibility—but for some, the inference hidden in this “mystery” is that Obama knew of Weinstein's horrors, yet still sent his teenage daughter to work for him. If you accept that premise, then that means that Obama was willing to put his daughter at risk of sexual harassment or worse—all for his own political gain. I know that the world is a supremely fucked up place, but man, this is an exceptionally depressing thought to consider.
And what is the evidence for this? Much of Hollywood knew of Weinstein's lewd behavior, but Hollywood is not the Democratic Party, and Weinstein's status as a mega-donor has been VASTLY overplayed by opportunistic people desperate to distract us from the fact that one party put a serial sexual abuser in the White House (granted, it came 24 years after the other party did, but that's a story for another day).
Harvey Weinstein was not even in the top 100 individual donors for 2016. Steven Spielberg gave more money to the Democrats last year, as he came in at #100, giving just over $2 million to Democrats. Thomas Steyer & F. & Kathryn Ann Fahr were the top donors between both parties in 2016, giving Democrats over $91 million. For all the talk of dark money in conservative politics, six of the top ten 2016 donors gave exclusively to Democrats.
The idea that Harvey Weinstein is this untouchable kingmaker within the DNC just isn't true. What he delivered more than anything was access to celebrities, but he is far from the only person in this country who could get Hillary Clinton alone in a room with Matt Damon. So once we take a step back and fully contextualize Weinstein's presence within the Democratic Party, the idea that Barack Obama would put his daughter in harm's way for a man who gives less money than Steven Spielberg completely falls apart. The President of the United States can get his daughter an internship wherever he wants, so the idea that Weinstein provided a unique access point for Obama is a specious argument at best.
If I still haven't convinced you, and you're jaded to the point where you think that Obama would trade his daughter's wellbeing for his own political gain, read this thread from the conservative op-ed editor of the New York Post, Seth Mandel.
I get that we live in a world defined by cynicism. Click on my name at the top of this story and you will see a litany of cynical takes in my history; I’m as guilty as anyone. However, if we’re so lost that we believe our politicians will essentially hand their daughters off to Jabba the Hut in order to gain some amorphous measure of political leverage, then we as people are just as lost we claim our politicians to be.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.