If you were a woman meeting with Harvey Weinstein, you were drinking whether you wanted to or not

A small detail in the ever lengthening list of misdeeds this scumbag is accused of, but a revealing one. The basic elements of the predatory “Weinstein experience” are all here in one anecdote — he was insufferably domineering, he was maneuvering to disarm his female companion from the start of their encounter, and he had a network of enablers around him who were willing to help him in the task, whether out of fear or greed.


If you read Lupita Nyong’o’s op-ed about her encounters with Weinstein, you may recall this curious incident in which Big Harv absolutely insisted that she get some booze into her before going back to his home to screen a film:

It was a busy restaurant, and as soon as we sat down he ordered a vodka and diet soda for himself. I asked for a juice. Harvey was unimpressed with my choice and told the waiter to bring me a vodka and diet soda instead. I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, “Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.” I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.Continue reading the main story

“Why not?” I remember him asking. “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together,” I said. “You are going to drink that,” he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, “I know.”

Later, at his home, Weinstein allegedly told her he wanted to give her a massage. Nyong’o wouldn’t let him. Would she have been able to resist as forcefully with a few drinks in her? I bet he thinks she wouldn’t have.


Which brings us to this new CNN piece, citing sources in the restaurant industry who used to work at Weinstein’s favorite spot, the Tribeca Grill. Evidently there was a specific protocol that the kitchen followed whenever their favorite customer walked in with a woman. If Weinstein wanted her to have alcohol and she wanted something non-alcoholic, you brought her a drink with alcohol. Period.

Weinstein would order alcoholic drinks, one for himself and one for his female guest. The food order varied, but he favored caviar, sources said. According to two former servers, the woman would “almost always” turn down his drink order and ask for a non-alcoholic beverage.

But the former servers said they were instructed by management to “do whatever Mr. Weinstein says.” This means the female guest was served alcohol whether she ordered it or not.

“The server was not allowed to go with what the female said,” said one former server who worked at Tribeca Grill for five months in 2015. “The server had to go with what Harvey said and regardless of whatever the female said we still had to bring the beverage to the table.”

One wonders: Were their drinks ever spiked? If so, who did the spiking? CNN’s sources say that inevitably, after drinks and before the food arrived, Weinstein and his companion would disappear out the back door of the restaurant and head to his “office,” only to return hours later with the two appearing “visibly quiet.” Then, with the food cold, Weinstein would pitch a fit and berate the wait staff, sometimes even throwing a lemon or lime from one of the drinks at them to “get their attention.” That’s a revealing detail, too. Weinstein was already infamous for his bullying but I can’t think of a starker illustration of how gratuitous it was than him throwing things at a waiter to demand service. Mike Allen of Axios reprinted an interesting comment from a female media colleague who emailed him about Mark Halperin and the telltale signs of a would-be harasser in the workplace:


“If you are anxiously looking around your media organization wondering who the harassers are or were, start with the men in power who are bullies: who screamed at subordinates, berated them, seemed to take pleasure in humiliating them — often publicly. We all know them. We have all worked with them. There is clearly a correlation between that behavior and this. … I would love to send a message to the screamers that their behavior will no longer be tolerated.”

I haven’t seen any science on that but it’s certainly true of Big Harv. And it makes sense intuitively. If you’re willing to cross one line of social etiquette to impose your will on a weaker party, chances are you’re willing to cross others.

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John Sexton 7:00 PM on December 09, 2023
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