Ryan Seacrest hit the red carpet on Sunday evening for E! News despite the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him.
Many viewers watching the E! red carpet weighed in on social media, expressing their thoughts about the situation. In the age of the #MeToo movement and the Time's Up campaign, many felt that it would be in poor taste to put Seacrest on the red carpet and have him interview stars.
Here's an idea: maybe not have Ryan Seacrest work the red carpet? I'm sure there are many non-scandalous reporters available. #Oscars— Garin Pirnia (@gpirnia) March 5, 2018
Red carpet interviews conducted by Ryan Seacrest talking about Times Up and Me Too, then seguing into Kobe Bryant's Oscar nomination is peak liminal society.— Hunter Heilman (@HungerHuman) March 5, 2018
How could Ryan Seacrest possibly be that essential— Drew Magary (@drewmagary) March 4, 2018
It was perceived as an awkward way of forcing Hollywood to accept the veteran entertainment reporter and believe in his innocence. Many actresses expressed their hesitation before the show began, stating that they hoped to simply avoid Seacrest rather than snub him on screen.
Still, Seacrest didn't let the buzz slow him down. The 43-year-old got in front of the camera just like any other year, and spoke amicably with the stars of this year's show. He chose not acknowledge the accusations against him at all, though some speculated that he had a harder time finding interviewees than usual.
Seacrest was accused of harassing and even assaulting his former stylist, Suzie Hardy, on multiple occasions. Hardy claimed that Seacrest spoke explicitly to her often, grabbed her inappropriately, slapped her butt hard enough to leave bruises and even rubbed himself against her. She claims that when she reported these incidents through the proper channels, she lost her job at E!.
The network commissioned a full investigation from a third party, who said there was no substantial evidence for Hardy's claim. still, many supporters of the #MeToo movement see it as a vital part of this revolution to believe women when they speak out about harassment, even when corporations or other power structures try to silence them. For that reason, man actresses felt hesitant to exchange red carpet banter with Seacrest this year.
Tarana Burke, the activist credited with founding the #MeToo movement, called out the E! network, saying that it should never have sent Seacrest to the Oscars in the first place. Burke felt that Seacrest's mere presence put actresses in an awkward position.
“I feel like we should be celebrating the fact that people are finally paying attention to what we’ve been talking about for decades,” she told Variety in preparation for the Oscars. To her, that means re-evaluating all protocols, including the 11-year-long tradition of Seacrest hosting the Oscars for E!.
“They really shouldn’t send him," she said plainly. “We shouldn’t have to make those choices of, ‘Do we or don’t we?'”
As far as E! is concerned, Seacrest's name has been cleared, and there are no criminal charges currently against him. Still, Burke says the network is essentially giving women at the Oscars a choice between being confrontational or complicit.
"This is not about his guilt or innocence," Burke declared. “It’s about there being an accusation that’s alive, and until they sort of out, it’s really on E! News and shouldn’t be on us... It will let us know where they stand in terms of how respectful E! News is of this issue – and of women.”