Never one to shy away from controversy, the journalist Gay Talese has come to the defense of Kevin Spacey.
Talese, whose most recent book The Voyeur’s Motel was the subject of vigorous debate after its credibility was questioned, was speaking to a reporter from Vanity Fair magazine at the Library Lions Gala at the New York Public Library when he leapt to Spacey’s defense.
Talese was asked by a reporter, as is standard at such events, for his thoughts on the entertainment industry’s sexual-abuse scandals—and he replied that he’d like to make Spacey his next subject, and expressed sympathy for the actor.
Spacey has been accused by several men of using his power and influence to sexually harass or assault them. However, Talese seemed, in his response, to be focusing particularly on the claims of Anthony Rapp, the first actor to come forward, who said that Spacey made a sexual advance toward him when he was just 14 years old.
Spacey claimed he didn’t remember the incident, but apologized anyway. He was widely condemned after he appeared to conflate his alleged advances on the boy with being gay, as he chose to come out in the same statement.
Since then, many more men have come forward, including eight who worked with Spacey on his Netflix series House of Cards (production of which has now been suspended) to allege attempted sexual predation by Spacey, though it appeared from his responses that perhaps Talese had not kept fully up to speed with all the Spacey news.
Talese told Vanity Fair: “I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career. So, OK, it happened 10 years ago… Jesus, suck it up once in a while!”
Talese, the magazine said, was visibly agitated, and continued: “I would like to ask [Spacey] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.”
He concluded by saying: “You know something, all of us in this room at one time or another did something we’re ashamed of. The Dalai Lama has done something he’s ashamed of. The Dalai Lama should confess… put that in your magazine!”
The magazine noted that, in its reporter’s discussion with Talese, who is 85, he didn’t seem to be aware of the further allegations beyond Rapp, but even so, chastising an alleged child sexual harassment victim is a terrible look. The magazine did not confirm what Talese knew or didn’t know.