Allegations of sexual predation by Harvey Weinstein could deliver a fatal blow to his Hollywood production company.

Yet a similar scandal involving Roger Ailes last year never seriously threatened to kill Fox News.

What's the difference? Why did Fox News survive the fall of its founding visionary, and why does the Weinstein Co. appear in danger of collapsing without its own?

CNN reported Thursday night that the Weinstein Co.'s continued existence is "an open question, even among the 200-odd staffers at the company." Also Thursday, Deadline reported that Hollywood agents are now reluctant to steer talent toward the studio, and the New York Times, which broke the Weinstein story last week, has reported that it will be hard for the Weinstein Co. to raise money for film and TV projects.


Ailes' ouster from Fox News in July 2016 certainly disrupted his network. The on-air lineup has changed repeatedly since then, and more accusations of harassment (by Bill O'Reilly) and even rape (by Charles Payne) have followed. Yet, through it all, Fox News remains on top of the cable news world.

Several key factors put Fox News in a stronger position than the Weinstein Co.

"One big difference is the centrality of Weinstein to his production company," said Nicole Hemmer, a contributing opinion editor at U.S. News & World Report, and author of "Messengers from the Right," a book about conservative media. "It carries his name, which now has been badly tarnished, and he was the guy people appealed to, first at Miramax and then at the Weinstein Co., to get their big break. From the beginning, Fox was different, because of Rupert Murdoch, who could overrule Ailes and left him in at least somewhat of a dependent position."

Instrumental as Ailes was in shaping the identity of Fox News, he and his network were "an organ of a substantial body" - Murdoch's media empire - "whereas the Weinstein Co. is a stand-alone, two-brothers company," said screenwriter and director Hassan Ildari.

The institutional safety net for Fox News was much larger than it is for the Weinstein Co.

Fox News declined to comment on how it withstood the toppling of Ailes. The Weinstein Co. did not respond to an inquiry about how, or whether, it will endure Weinstein's exit.

Fox News benefited from the loyalty of a viewer base that lacked (and still does) a real alternative. By contrast, "there is no Weinstein Co. base," Ildari said. "We go to the movies to be entertained and to lose ourselves, and we don't care who produces them."

"The cost is so much higher if the conservative network, which plays such a central role in GOP politics, folds," Hemmer added. "Weinstein was a Democratic donor and bundler, but Fox News is a critical institution of Republican and conservative power in the United States. There's just no comparison."


Camille Hébert, a professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law who specializes in sexual harassment, pointed to what she sees as "the double standard that always seems to exist between Republicans and Democrats, or conservatives and liberals."

In this case, the double standard means that many of the same people condemning Weinstein, a Democrat, were willing to give Ailes, a Republican, the benefit of the doubt - people like President Donald Trump.

"Trump says that Roger Ailes is a good man, unfairly treated, and lots of people buy that," Hébert said. "But (Barack) Obama and (Hillary) Clinton don't immediately condemn Weinstein, and they are horrible people?"

Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, described Fox News as a "machine" that, because of the nature of the cable news industry, was equipped to keep going, uninterrupted, without Ailes.

"Fox News is in nearly all American homes," Thompson said. "They've got this enormous infrastructure of staff, reporters, regular programming ... Shutting that down would have been hard to do."

The film industry works differently. Every project demands the assembly of a new team and, at the Weinstein Co., "a lot of that was Harvey," Thompson said. "I think a lot of what happened there depended upon his contacts, his relationships. ... That can disappear pretty quickly."