On Thursday, the New York Times published an incendiary report that detailed almost three decades’ worth of sexual harassment allegations against the powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The report confirmed much of the whispered speculation surrounding Weinstein’s behavior towards women, with stories from actors like Ashley Judd and anonymous former women employees that illustrated allegations of a disturbing pattern of Weinstein’s abuse of his power.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s reporting included this curious fact: Lisa Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred and lawyer who has made her career representing female victims in sexual assault cases against powerful men, is representing Weinstein, and has been “advising” him for the past year—a curious choice for a man who, if the circumstances were different, Bloom might have faced in court.
Bloom has made her career representing women bringing cases claiming they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted by men with power and money: Blac Chyna; Kathy Griffin; Janice Dickinson; an unnamed Trump rape accuser; a few of the many women suing Fox News for sexual harassment; Quantasia Sharpton, who alleges Usher failed to disclose the fact he allegedly had herpes before he slept with her; and Montia Sabbag, the woman who appeared in a video currently being used in an attempt to extort Kevin Hart.
Given the trajectory of her career, taking Weinstein under her wing as a client and a friend makes little to no sense—he’s an accused sexual harasser, a florid, ruddy man who, according to the NYT’s reporting, lures women into his hotel room, and asks them to watch him shower in exchange for a leg up in their career. The cynic’s assessment of this situation is that it’s about both money and personal edification—the two reasons that anyone does anything in this world, so the thinking goes. Bloom’s statement seems to corroborate this fact.
There are many issues with this, starting with the fact that Lisa Bloom is not the first woman to “be blunt” with Weinstein, or indicate to him that “times have changed.” The NYT reports, for example, that a brave former colleague of Weinstein’s Lauren O’Connor detailed her own frank assessment of the situation in a letter to executives of the Weinstein Company, which Weinstein called “off base.” On Thursday, Weinstein placed the blame for his behavior squarely on the shoulders of his upbringing. “I came of age in the 60's and 70's when all the rules about workplace behavior were different,” Weinstein wrote in a statement provided to the New York Times. “That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office - or out of it. To anyone.” That he didn’t learn this lesson from O’Connor or the three decades of allegations reported by the NYT is a head scratcher only if one fails to account for how powerful a man like Weinstein is, and how much an alliance with him can bring almost anyone in the Hollywood ecosystem.
While Weinstein is correct in his assessment that it’s simply not good enough to point a sausage finger at his past to make up for his present, it’s galling that Bloom is seemingly on his side, putting together a “team of people” and working as his “tutor” to somehow make him see the light of his ways. While it’d be a huge notch in her professional bedpost if she somehow, against all odds, managed to mastermind Weinstein’s transformation from crude boor to woke ally, there is no amount of book learning that can undo what he’s allegedly done. Bloom may be deluded by the glittering optics of what could possibly be, but she’s certainly not stupid. Everything about the way she conducts her career has been carefully planned, from the press conferences to the women she choses to represent.
Throwing her hat in the ring with Harvey Weinstein and trotting out the old “boys will be boys” is a maddening move, but Bloom shows her hand at the end of her statement: “He has been working on a major foundation with USC with one of the largest grants for female directors, which started well over a year ago,” she writes. “And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful towards me.”
There it is.
Weinstein is the producer for the six-episode adaptation of Bloom’s 2014 book about the Trayvon Martin case. Bloom and her bank account are no doubt ecstatic at the prospect. (Bloom did not immediately return a request for comment from Jezebel.)
In another baffling twist, Weinstein’s other lawyer, Charles Harder—who represented Hulk Hogan while carrying out Peter Thiel’s secret legal battle against Jezebel’s former parent company Gawker Media, and who is currently representing several clients against Gizmodo Media Group, Jezebel’s current parent company—says Weinstein will sue the New York Times for defamation to the tune of $50 million. All proceeds from any resulting lawsuit will go to a variety of “women’s organizations,” though it’s not clear what women’s organizations would take that dirty money were it to come their way.
If Bloom wants to make herself out to be a hero to women here, it won’t work. It’s not selflessness to use women’s pain to advance her career under the guise of righting larger cosmic wrongs. Bloom’s choice to guide Weinstein through the thicket of these allegations—to stand staunchly by his side—makes complete sense. It’s not about the women for Bloom, unless the woman is herself.
Update, October 8: On Saturday, Bloom tweeted that she had resigned as Weinstein’s attorney:
While no further explanation was offered, she did tweet a response to New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, who cowrote the initial piece about Weinstein, accusing her of “secretly undermin[ing] women speaking re Weinstein,” with a link to this piece:
In the Times piece, Bloom’s resignation is attributed to clashes with Weinstein board members; the part Kantor was referring to was this, based on emails seen by the Times:
As the board convened an emergency phone meeting on Thursday evening to address the allegations, published in an investigation by The Times, Ms. Bloom sent an email to board members attacking the article. She outlined a plan that involved “more and different reporting,” including “photos of several of the accusers in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct.”
“You have a commercial relationship with TWC via a TV deal so how can you possibly provide impartial advice to Harvey or address this group with any credibility?” Mr. Maerov asked in the email.
In a separate email, Mr. Maerov, who declined to comment on Saturday, said that “publishing pictures of victims in friendly poses with Harvey will backfire as it suggests they are exculpatory or negate any harm done to them through alleged actions.”