I’ll never forget the one time I laid eyes on Harvey Weinstein outside the pages of Vanity Fair. It was at a movie premiere in Manhattan in 2014. My sister and I got up before the film started for a pre-emptive bathroom run. As we left the theater, we couldn’t avoid walking past Mr. Weinstein, who was pressed up close to a younger, much smaller man in the hallway.
Mr. Weinstein was inches from the younger man, pointing fingers at his face, swearing at him and threatening him. The man being berated was flush against the wall. He stood there, taking it, not saying a word. I’d read enough profiles of Mr. Weinstein to know about his money troubles and his gorgeous wife and his boiling temper. Still, I’d never seen a person talk to another that way. It shocked me. But the most astonishing thing about it was that this happened in public — at a Weinstein-produced movie, no less. Powerful people streamed by this shameful interaction and said nothing. As it turns out, younger, less powerful women say his bullying, predatory behavior toward them was equally unconcealed. But it took dogged Times reporters to nail down the details and they are vile.
Among the accusations against Mr. Weinstein: He asked a young Ashley Judd to watch him shower. He would lure eager female strivers into “business” meetings in his luxury hotel rooms where he’d ask them for massages. One woman warned another to wear a parka for extra protection. Assistants were expected to rouse Mr. Weinstein in the mornings and do “turndown duty” at night. He seemed to be in bathrobes or naked as often as Hugh Hefner. According to The Times, he paid settlements to “at least” eight women who have accused him of sexual harassment.
If the Weinstein story follows the pattern recently laid down by Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, it’s a decent bet that “at least” will be followed with many additional allegations. The question is whether Mr. Weinstein, as a liberal lion of Hollywood and prominent donor to Democratic politicians, will suffer the same consequences as those Fox News troglodytes Mr. Ailes and Mr. O’Reilly.
If past is prologue, perhaps not. As Camille Paglia noted in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, prominent feminists like Gloria Steinem didn’t waste any time discarding sexual harassment guidelines when it came to Bill Clinton’s sexual predations as president. Principle rapidly gave way to partisanship and political opportunism.
New York Times