Ryan Seacrest May Be the Next Victim of the #MeToo Outrage Machine

Former 'American Idol' host will still be working the Oscars' red carpet show for E! this weekend despite recent scandal

“It’s gang-up-on-men time,” said host Laura Ingraham Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“You can’t win in these scenarios. If someone makes a mere allegation, even if you’re cleared, you end up getting trashed,” she said.

“#MeToo is great, but fairness, too, has to follow,” added Fox News contributor and EWTN managing editor Raymond Arroyo, after noting that Ryan Seacrest, even though he was cleared, is still having to contend with Hollywood elites who are vying to kick him off the red carpet.

An exclusive report Monday in Variety detailed sexual harassment and assault allegations from last November that were lodged against Ryan Seacrest by his former personal stylist at E! News, Suzie Hardy. Seacrest has denied the allegations.

“I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process,” Seacrest said in a statement on Tuesday, as quoted in The New York Times.

NBCUniversal, E!’s parent company, hired independent counsel to investigate the claims, Variety reported. When that investigation failed to yield sufficient evidence to support Hardy’s claims, she described her reaction to the results of the investigation as “total exasperation.”

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Hardy also told Variety that she believes “it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.” E! dismissed those claims outright, saying that “any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless,” Variety reported.

In the same article, Seacrest’s attorney not so subtly hinted that potentially lucrative ulterior motives might have driven Hardy to lodge the allegations. Specifically, attorney Andrew Baum said the accuser of ABC’s “Live! With Kelly & Ryan” co-host threatened to issue a “demonstrably false” statement to the press unless Seacrest paid her $15 million.

Hardy denies the blackmail allegation. She says Seacrest asked her how much she wanted “to go away,” The Times reported.

NBCUniversal, for its part, appears confident in relying on the investigation’s exoneration of Seacrest. The group will not be removing him as host of E!’s upcoming Academy Awards coverage, according to The Times.

True to form, despite Seacrest’s denial, despite an independent investigation that was unable to support the allegations, and despite the possibility that Seacrest was being blackmailed — the #MeToo outrage machine instantly whipped into high gear.

Related: This Is the Backlash to the #MeToo Movement

The timing of Variety’s report made it all too easy for that outrage machine to laser-focus its ire on a very obvious target — and it quickly put Seacrest in the crosshairs. The former American Idol host is slated to host E!’s red carpet show during the 90th annual Academy Awards on March 4. Denizens of social media, characteristically, were outspoken in their insistence that he should immediately be fired.

Jennifer Lawrence weighed in on the Seacrest situation, too, in an interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday. The 28-year-old starlet-turned-political-activist was, shockingly, somewhat measured and fair when probed for her feelings on the subject.

“He has not been to trial for anything. I am not a judge. I am not a jury, you know. I don’t know … that is where this stuff gets tricky,” she said, according to Hollywood Life.

Tricky, indeed. Assuming a person is guilty until proven innocent isn’t the way our system is designed, and for good reason. Add presumption of guilt to mounting evidence that the accusation may be unfounded, and you’re treading on some very thin ice, much to the frustrated inconvenience of some in the #MeToo movement.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.

(photo credit, homepage image: Ryan Seacrest, CC BY 2.0, by Jim Greenhill; photo credit, article image: Ryan SeacrestCC BY 2.0, by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

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