Lisa Bloom, the daughter of pioneering feminist attorney Gloria Allred, is herself a lawyer who has been, heretofore, uncompromising in her advocacy to end sexual harassment in the workplace. Most particularly, she has both represented and been outspoken in the defense of women who have accused Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault.
On Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, The New York Times published a piece that to this reader looked very well researched and documented, long (about 3,300 words), and complete about, as the headline said, “Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein.”
Weinstein, 65, is the co-founder of both Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company. His companies have produced a number of acclaimed movies, including “Shakespeare in Love,” “Clerks,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and the TV series “Project Runway.”
On Broadway Weinstein has had a hand in several shows, including the hit “The Producers.”
The Times story begins with this unsettling paragraph:
“Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.”
The Times piece details other, similar encounters that women claim to have had with Weinstein.
The Times writes “An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.
“During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, [and] an Italian model in 2015….”
What was Lisa Bloom’s reaction to the story? She said during an interview, “Either…women from all over the country…of diverse backgrounds, who didn’t know each other are now conspiring together to ruin him, or he’s a serial sexual predator. I mean those are the only two choices.”
Interviewer: “Sometimes celebrities are targets.”
Bloom: “I think if there was one accuser, if there were two accusers, maybe three accusers, we would all think that. But when there are this many…”
Oh, wait a minute. That’s not Bloom talking about Harvey Weinstein. That’s her talking about Bill Cosby, from a 2015 interview with Taj Longino.
I’m sorry. Here’s the soundbite I was looking for: “I have donated all of my time in the last few weeks for the single-minded purpose to bring down this man who hurt so many women, both emotionally and their careers,” said Bloom.
Oh my. Nope. That’s Bloom on April 19th of this year talking to CBS about the firing of Bill O’Reilly by Fox News. Previously, she had complained about Fox News to CNN’s Brian Stelter, “This is absolutely outrageous. Do women’s careers mean anything at Fox News? Do the laws of sexual harassment ever get enforced there?”
So what did Bloom really have to say about Harvey Weinstein in light of the Times’ expose? Well, it turns out she’s been working for Harvey. And in March Weinstein optioned a book Bloom wrote to make it into a movie.
Thus here (really) is the statement Bloom released on Thursday about Weinstein in light of the publication of the Times’ piece:
“Harvey Weinstein and I have had many wide ranging conversations over the last year about rumors and allegations against him. He denies many of the accusations as patently false. Nevertheless, I have explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.
“As a women’s rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me. I have told him that times have changed, it is 2017, and he needs to evolve to a higher standard. I have found Harvey to be refreshingly candid and receptive to my message. He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways. He wants to reach out to any of the women who may have issues with him to talk to them in a respectful, peaceful way, with me present if that is acceptable to them. 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. And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful toward me.
“He is deeply bothered by some of his emotional responses. He has been working on his temper for over ten years and is chagrined the issue still plagues him. He recognizes he needs time off to focus on this issue and has much to learn. He wants to reach out to teachers with expertise in this area.
“Harvey is not going to demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him, although he does dispute many of the allegations. Instead, he is going to use this as a painful learning experience to grow into a better man. I will continue to work with him personally for as long as it takes.
“In addition, Harvey has asked me to do a comprehensive review of his company’s policies and practices regarding women in the workplace. I will make recommendations to ensure that gender equality and zero tolerance for workplace misconduct aren’t just goals, but a reality.”
Bloom’s statement so infuriates me I almost don’t know where to begin. The hypocrisy between these apologist remarks about Weinstein and her blistering attacks on Cosby and O’Reilly is outrageous and virtually nullify any of her past work in the fight to end sexual harassment in the workplace.
She notes that Weinstein is not going to “demean or attack any of the women making accusations against him,” yet she adds that Weinstein “disputes many of the allegations” and he says many of the allegations “are patently false.” Where have we heard that before?
Furthermore, though Weinstein says he isn’t going to “demean or attack” any of the women, another of Weinstein’s attorneys, Charles Harder, told the New York Post’s Page Six on Thursday, “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”
So Bloom is OK with Weinstein not “demeaning or attacking” any of the women, but it’s fine to demean and attack the messenger who brought these allegations against Weinstein to light.
Is Bloom kidding with her statement “I have explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.” This is a conversation you might have with a child. To think Weinstein doesn’t know this at age 65 is absurd. It is EXACTLY because Weinstein understood the power he had over the young women that he likely felt he could sexually harass them.
And her line “He is an old dinosaur learning new ways.” Give me a frickin’ break.
“He is deeply bothered by some of his emotional responses. He has been working on his temper for ten years and is chagrined the issue still plagues him.” Really? Maybe he’s not trying hard enough. Maybe that’s the same reason there have been decades of sexual harassment accusations against him.
And then there’s this: “As we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful to me.”
Well, regardless of what one thinks of Weinstein, no fool is he.
But what was Bloom thinking? Bloom, this so-called champion of women against sexual harassment, gets hired by someone who’s settled at least eight sexual harassment cases and also agrees to sell her book to him so he can make a movie of it, and then publicly goes to bat for him. Whatever happened to her 2015 observation about Cosby that if there were only one accuser or two, or maybe three…
In April, Bloom sent out this tweet: “When women speak our truth the old order shatters.
We slayed the dragon. Never forget this is what we’re capable of.”
It seems that the only one who’s forgotten this is Bloom herself, as she has now embraced the dark side.
I’ve long respected the work of Bloom’s mom Allred as a true pioneer in the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. No more so than after reading this statement Allred sent Time magazine on Thursday:
“Lisa is my daughter and I love and respect her. She has her own law firm separate from mine. She makes her own independent decisions on who she will or will not represent, and I have no role in her decisions.
“Had I been asked by Mr. Weinstein to represent him, I would have declined, because I do not represent individuals accused of sexual harassment. I only represent those who allege that they are victims of sexual harassment.
“While I would not represent Mr. Weinstein, I would consider representing anyone who accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual harassment, even if it meant that my daughter was the opposing counsel.”
Update: The day after this essay appeared Bloom quit her representation of Weinstein.
Lisa Bloom on CNN