The Fine Line Between Defending Your Loved One And Digging The Hole Deeper
The news broke Wednesday that Chris Hardwick would be returning to his various AMC hosting duties following the conclusion of the channel’s investigation into the allegations of emotional abuse and sexual coercion made against him (by former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra, who did not name him in her account). In their statement, AMC said:
“Following a comprehensive assessment by AMC, working with Ivy Kagan Bierman of the firm Loeb & Loeb, who has considerable experience in this area, Chris Hardwick will return to AMC as the host of ‘Talking Dead’ and ‘Talking with Chris Hardwick.’ We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”
Dykstra herself seems ready to move on from this chapter, saying in a Twitter note,”I hope that the hatred, the name-calling, the death threats can go away and we can return to productive discourse.”
I originally wrote my essay so I could move on with my life, and now I intend to do so. Thank you, again, to those who have supported me during this. pic.twitter.com/sjBEKGpY7v— Chloe Dykstra (@skydart) July 26, 2018
Despite the seeming resolution of this story, at least as far as the public is concerned, not everyone is moving on so swiftly. As we’ve discussed before, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Hardwick saga has been the public defenses of the man from his friends and loved ones — defenses that have been well-meaning while often missing the point. And in the wake of Hardwick’s reinstatement, we got another powerful example of this courtesy of his wife, Lydia Hearst.
Hearst took to Twitter a few times yesterday, responding to negative reactions about the news. In one example, which has since seemingly been deleted, comedian Kathy Griffin posted The Hollywood Reporter’s story about Hardwick’s reinstatement, with the caption “FUCK THIS!!!” — to which Hearst replied:
There is a reason for due process. Also, this has nothing to do with you. The truth prevailed. Chris is innocent and a good man. Try looking at facts and spreading love, compassion, and understanding. If you can’t, then go project your upset and nasty comments somewhere else.— Lydia Hearst (@LydiaHearst) July 25, 2018
Let’s set aside the fact that the “truth” of events that occur privately between two people can be a notoriously hard thing to pin down, and that the “facts” haven’t been released (outside of the statements of the parties involved), and give Hearst the benefit of the doubt. “Spreading love, compassion, and understanding” would be a great thing in these trying times, and if she’d ended her response there, I’d have nothing to say. But she didn’t. She tacked on that final “upset and nasty” insult.
Which, all things considered, was nicer than she was to musician and writer Allie Goertz, who was formerly the Social Media producer on Hardwick’s @midnight show. Goertz posted this joke in reaction to the news:
Hardwick is returning to Talking Dead but only under these conditions:— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 25, 2018
-He’s not go out at night.
-Not to have any close male friends unless they’re coworkers.
-Not to speak in public places.
-Not to take couple photos.
Hearst responded with this tweet…
Excuse me… You were calling and texting my husband only a few months back to literally thank him and tell him how grateful you were for work opportunities with him, and asking meet and be mentored by him re: sobriety🤔 I remember the messages you sent when you were reaching out— Lydia Hearst (@LydiaHearst) July 26, 2018
… which doesn’t defend her husband so much as it unnecessarily tries to cast Goertz in an opportunistic light while possibly outing her for struggling with dependency issues (issues shared by Hardwick himself).
Goertz was having none of it.
So much wrong with this. First, my relationship with Chris has nothing to do with Chloe (which is why I’ve never made it personal). Second, I don’t even have your husband’s phone number. He never even followed me on Twitter despite me running @midnight’s account! https://t.co/W8WPg3BnxY— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 26, 2018
Third, I emailed Chris after the show ended (1 year ago) to thank him for hiring me. Fourth, when Chris met 3 years ago (not months ago) about me getting sober, I sincerely appreciated it even though the only thing he told me was that it would be good for my career.— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 26, 2018
But most importantly Lydia, I believe women. To the point that when given the choice to believe Chloe over someone I’ve known for five years who could hurt my career to stand up against, I chose Chloe. I truly cannot imagine how difficult this is for you and I’m so sorry.— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 26, 2018
Goertz’s response is a master-class in… well, class. She sets the record straight while also offering genuine sympathy for the impossible position that Hearst must be in. And I think that’s the thing here — the recognition that it’s not easy to hear something terrible about the person you love, something that seems so beyond the scope of what you think they’re capable of.
I truly can’t imagine how hard it is to have a husband who was accused of something you don’t believe is in his power. It must be earth shattering. It’s not the same but reminds me of why it took us DECADES to accept Cosby. I don’t think anyone is saying this is easy.— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 26, 2018
And it’s natural to want to defend that person. Hearst has the right to do that! There is always room to say “I love my husband and I support him” even if you don’t necessarily know what went on between two people in the past. But there’s a difference between defending and being defensive, and I think it’s fair to say that the way she’s going about things isn’t helping. Hardwick, after whatever “due process” was put in place by AMC, has been cleared to their satisfaction and given his job back. He’s FINE. And no, not everyone is going to be happy about it. They have valid reasons for not being comfortable welcoming Hardwick back into the fold so soon, especially given that we don’t know anything about the nature of AMC’s investigation. But targeting, insulting, and belittling online naysayers is completely unnecessary, and it isn’t going to fit the whole Hardwick redemption narrative the way she may hope it will. Fanning the flames of internet ire isn’t going to make people forget the accusations against Hardwick any faster.
Instead, maybe she should try practicing her own advice, and spread some love, compassion, and understanding and maybe go see Mission Impossible — Fallout.
I may have been publicly shamed for my struggle with sobriety by a Hearst, but nothing can change that I’m seeing Mission Impossible tonight, baby!— Allie Goertz (@AllieGoertz) July 27, 2018