Barry Diller is seeing the #MeToo movement change the way his companies are doing business.
In a new, wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the IAC and Expedia chairman and senior executive said that “relationships are changing” in the companies he oversees, citing a recent formal complaint by a female employee stating that she had been asked out for drinks with a boss. A man, he noted, who would not feel uncomfortable in such a situation, might benefit from socializing with a boss.
“I hope in the future for some form of reconciliation. Because I think all men are guilty. I’m not talking about rape and pillage. I’m not talking about Harveyesque. I’m talking about all of the spectrum,” Diller said. “From an aggressive flirt. Or even just a flirty-flirt that has one sour note in it. Or what I think every man was guilty of, some form of omission in attitude, in his views.”
The exec added that he hoped there would be more nuance in the way men accused of sexual misconduct would be treated, given the “guilt” that he attributed to all men. “Are we really going to have only capital punishment? Because right now, that’s what we have,” said Diller. “You get accused, you’re obliterated. Charlie Rose ceases to exist.”
Diller, the former chief executive of Universal, also detailed his dealings with Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of misconduct by over 80 women. Diller alleged that he told Weinstein off at the Cannes Film Festival after he had made then-Universal movie head Stacey Snider cry. Diller told the Times that he said to Weinstein, “Harvey, don’t ever treat an executive at my company that way. Don’t you ever talk to anyone in that manner.”
The executive also gave his reviews of the recent Jennifer Lawrence-starring film Red Sparrow, whose sexual content he called “awful,” and this year’s best picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water, which he observed was “beautiful but silly.” When asked whether he would run a movie company now, Diller responded that he wouldn’t. “It would be like saying, do I want to own a horse-and-buggy company? The idea of a movie is losing its meaning,” he said.
At CES earlier this year, the former studio head forecast that the film industry was about to experience a “profound dislocation” due to rapid video changes on the internet. Diller also criticized the industry for making hit movies a “tentpole business.”
When asked about the direction of Fox News in 2018, the co-creator of the Fox Broadcasting Company said that fellow co-creator Rupert Murdoch had “played a bad hand very well” when he agreed to sell major Fox assets to Disney, a deal announced in December.
Diller also weighed in on President Donald Trump, whom he said he tried to avoid following their first meeting, when Trump was obsequious: “He spent the entire time saying how great I was. He didn’t know me. And afterward, I walked around the corner and I thought, ‘I never want to see that man again.’”
Diller and Trump openly feuded in 2015, when Trump responded to a joke Diller made about his presidential campaign with the tweet, “Little Barry Diller, who lost a fortune on Newsweek and Daily Beast, only writes badly about me. He is a sad and pathetic figure. Lives lie!”