PARIS — As it continues to brew, the Weinstein scandal has now reached France.
In a lengthy televised interview Sunday night, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he has asked the relevant authorities to strip Harvey Weinstein of his highly coveted Légion d’Honneur award.
Macron, who has mostly avoided journalists, went on the air Sunday night with journalists from France’s TF1 station in a last-ditch attempt to discuss policy matters in the midst of his massive labor reforms and to bolster his badly damaged image. But social media quickly focused on one thing the president said in his first televised interview since taking office in mid-May.
“Yes, I have indeed taken steps to withdraw the Légion d’Honneur,” Macron said. “I wish, as these acts lack the honor, that we take all the consequences.”
In France, the Légion d’Honneur is a great honor. Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it is the highest order of merit bestowed on French and foreign nationals for civil and military achievements in the service of France and the ideals it upholds. The names enshrined in Paris’s famous Légion d’Honneur Palace — a favorite building of Thomas Jefferson — represent some of the greatest characters in modern history. Among the Americans who have won are former first lady and diplomat Eleanor Roosevelt (1951), novelist Toni Morrison (2010) and celebrated singer and songwriter Bob Dylan (2013).
In keeping with the French tradition of awarding the prize to international celebrities, the country awarded Weinstein the Légion d’Honneur in 2012 at the behest of President Nicolas Sarkozy for Weinstein's contributions to world cinema. Although foreigners cannot be full members of the Légion, they are eligible to win the prize.
But the prize can indeed be revoked. According to the rules, “unbecoming behavior” can cause one’s award to be rescinded. For French members, such behavior can lead to an official reprimand, a suspension or an outright exclusion from the order. For foreign recipients, however, all it takes to lose the coveted prize is one strike — the “withdrawal,” which Macron has requested in Weinstein's case.
In 2012, the group stripped British fashion designer John Galliano of his prize over his anti-Semitic comments.
The Weinstein news came as authorities looked for connections in the scandal to another European capital: London. There, police are investigating new allegations against Weinstein from a woman who told them that the Hollywood producer assaulted her in 2010, 2011 and 2015. In response, the city's police confirmed that its Child Abuse and Sexual Offenses Command is on the case.