Attorney Lisa Bloom has made a career representing female victims of sexual misconduct by powerful men—from Janice Dickinson’s case against Bill Cosby, to an unnamed woman’s accusations leveled at President Trump, to several of the Fox News employees who faced alleged harassment there.
And now she’s representing Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood kingmaker and Democratic mega-donor, who, according to a New York Times bombshell report, settled at least eight sexual-harassment cases over three decades.
One can’t help but ask: Why on earth would Bloom defend the exact type of abusive, powerful man she has so long worked to take down?
ABC’s Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos on Friday said as much to Bloom’s face.
“I have to say I’m surprised you’re here this morning,” he said. “You’ve been here and represented women who have taken on Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, sexual-harassment cases. Why did you switch sides in this case?”
Her reply: “I’ve known Harvey for about a year and these rumors have swirled around him for a long time. And I said to him, you know, ‘What’s going on? This is not OK.’ And Harvey and I had a lot of frank conversations about this and when this New York Times story was about to break and Harvey expressed to me the same remorse that you see now, I said, ‘We have to throw out the old playbook, OK? You’re not going to be attacking women. You’re not going to be disrespecting women. You’re not going to be digging up dirt on them and embarrassing them. That’s the tired old way to go. If you are genuinely remorseful, say so, admit what you’ve done wrong, apologize and let’s have your actions speak for themselves.”
Weinstein did, indeed, express remorse—in a statement that was drenched in trite therapy clichés; didn’t once mention sexual harassment; and bizarrely pivoted to attacking the National Rifle Association.
Bloom on Thursday released a statement touting her feminist credentials and slightly excusing Weinstein’s behavior as simply being a product of age: “He’s an old dinosaur learning ways,” she wrote.
And so Stephanopoulos asked her, point-blank: “Did he sexually harass women?”
“I think Harvey acknowledged, yes, there was misconduct over a period of years,” Bloom responded, before pivoting to his temperamental personality: “He’s big, loud guy. People are intimidated by him. I’m not—you know, I’m a big-mouth lawyer myself. I’ll stand up to him. But if I’m a 23-year-old in his workplace, of course, they’re intimidated.”
Stephanopoulos pressed on: “The question is: Is it sexual harassment? Ashley Judd said she went to Harvey’s for a business meeting. He proposed a massage and asked if she would watch him shower. Is she lying?”
Bloom replied that she and Weinstein “have great respect” for Judd, but that her client has “a little different perspective on what happened 20 years ago.” The lawyer then claimed Weinstein has “authorized” her to say that she encouraged women to come forward.
“Here’s the problem,” Stephanopoulos shot back. “The New York Times says in interviews eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein, that he appeared naked or nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed, or asking for a massage or initiating one himself. This is a real pattern over 30 years. This is like textbook sexual harassment.”
Bloom agreed: “It’s gross,” she said, while never explicitly calling his actions “sexual harassment.”
She continued: “You have to understand, yes, I’m here as his adviser. I’m not defending him in any sexual-harassment cases. There aren’t any sexual-harassment cases. I’m working with a guy who has behaved badly over the years who is genuinely remorseful, who says, ‘You know, I have caused a lot of pain.’”
Bloom distanced herself from Weinstein’s decision to sue the Times, telling Stephanopoulos that the mega-producer has a separate lawyer handling that case.
Instead, Bloom said, she relishes in the opportunity to represent the other side of sexual-misconduct allegations, because it gives her the opportunity to verbally “smack that guy around a little bit.”
But when Stephanopoulos once again pressed Bloom to say Weinstein admitted to “sexually harassing” women, the lawyer got defensive.
“You’re using a legal term. I’m using the term ‘workplace misconduct,’” she said. “Sexual harassment is severe and pervasive and so telling somebody they look nice in a dress, for example, is not sexual harassment and that is one of the allegations against him.”
Stephanopoulos gave another example: “If you have sex with me, you’ll do better in your career.”
“That is absolutely sexual harassment,” Bloom said.
“That’s what’s alleged in the article,” the ABC host cornered her.
“That is true,” she said, once again avoiding directly accusing her client of having sexually harassed women. “You know, yes, that is true.”
For her part, Bloom acknowledged that Weinstein also happens to be producing a docu-series based on one of her books.
“That’s how I came to know him about a year ago. My book Suspicion Nation was optioned for a film and I said to him, ‘Look, there is a lot of rumors about you. Can we talk about it?’” she recalled. “I was very surprised he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been stupid. I’m embarrassed, Lisa. Tell me what to do now.”