Nearly one year after the #MeToo movement became a viral hashtag, accusations of sexual assault against powerful people in Hollywood are still coming out. Now, one of the loudest voices in the movement, actor Asia Argento, is making headlines — not just as a survivor of sexual abuse, but as an alleged perpetrator — and CNN is responding accordingly.
According to People, CNN pulled several episodes of the late Anthony Bourdain’s travel show Parts Unknown from streaming services as of Sunday. Two of the episodes, exploring Rome and Southern Italy, featured Argento on-screen; a third, exploring Hong Kong, was directed by Argento. In the Hong Kong episode, Bourdain said, “To fall in love with Asia is one thing. To fall in love in Asia is another. Both have happened to me.”
A CNN spokesperson told People that the network pulled these episodes for one crucial reason. “In light of the recent news reports about Asia Argento, CNN will discontinue airing past episodes of Parts Unknown that included her until further notice,” they said.
Following Bourdain’s death in June, Argento received an outpouring of support from fans; the couple had been dating since 2016, when they met on production for the Rome episode of Parts Unknown. Then, in August, The New York Times reported that Argento reached a $380,000 financial statement with actor Jimmy Bennett, who claimed Argento had sexual intercourse with him when he was underage.
According to People, Argento denied the allegation in a statement to journalist Yashar Ali: “I strongly deny and oppose the contents of the New York Times article,” she wrote. “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.” She said that Bourdain paid off Bennett when the latter “unexpectedly made an exorbitant request of money” from her after she accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault last fall.
“Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us,” she wrote. “We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and gave it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
In a statement to People, Bennett said he chose to handle the situation in private largely because he “was underage when the event took place, and I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public.”
After Bennett’s accusation was made public, Argento was reportedly fired from as a judge of X Factor Italy according to the Hollywood Reporter. CNN choosing to remove her episodes of Parts Unknown follows the same logic. As more people in Hollywood are accused of sexual assault and abuse, the ramifications are becoming more intense. It should be noted that Bennett’s allegations toward Argento in no way belittle her allegations toward Weinstein, but regardless, this response from CNN is absolutely appropriate.