If you don’t know who celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom is, then you haven’t read beyond the headlines. “Rob Kardashian Posts Revenge Porn to Slut-Shame His Ex Blac Chyna.” “Mischa Barton’s Cruel Tabloid Persecution.” “Choking, Harassing, and Loofahs: Women’s Allegations Against Bill O’Reilly Piled Up for Years Before His Demise.” “The Trumps Turn to Barron to Bash Kathy Griffin.” “Lawsuit: Usher Didn’t Warn 3 Partners of Alleged Herpes Diagnosis.” Bloom has represented Blac Chyna, Mischa Barton, Dr. Wendy Walsh, Kathy Griffin, and Ushers’ alleged sexual partners who accused him of giving them herpes. All signs point to her being a lawyer out for justice against the purported sexual misconduct of powerful men. So it’s easy to understand being bothered and bewildered by Bloom’s recent decision to represent Harvey Weinstein after The New York Times dropped an explosive piece on the decades of sexual harassment accusations against him.
In an interview with The Cut, Bloom described the types of people she represents: “People are already in distress when they come to me. No one comes to a lawyer because things are perfect in their lives. I’m a last resort. I think my clients know that I admire them. I tell them how impressed I am with their courage. None of them signed up for the situations they’re in. They did not volunteer to be sexually assaulted or harassed, and still they’ve decided to speak.”
This raison d’être is incredibly at odds with Weinstein, who has been accused by actress Ashley Judd and other women of sexual impropriety with actresses, colleagues, and employees. In 2015, Judd shared a story with Variety of an anonymous producer who invited her, then two decades younger, to his hotel room for a “business meeting” that was instead an invitation to watch him shower. Weinstein was identified as that alleged producer today by the Times.
For Bloom to go from representing the numerous sexual harassment claims against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to then turn around and defend Weinstein against his reeks of hypocrisy—a commitment to an industry that serves Bloom high-profile clients as opposed to a conservative news host with no shortage of detractors. It’s en vogue to attack O’Reilly, as a liberal, because he often spouted sexist and racially-tinged rhetoric on FOX News. Even during a recent appearance on the network, after he was forced to step down following the aforementioned sexual harassment accusations and settlements, O’Reilly blasted “liberal fascists” and said that black people were overstating white supremacy in America. But in “liberal” Hollywood, it’s less savvy to go after powerful men for sexual assault—at least, established white men. If this sounds cynical then it should, because it’s an industry that apparently values fame and influence over morality. We expect this in politics, perhaps, but not in an industry constantly espousing the need for diversity and equal pay, doing a tap dance for liberalism worthy of Billy Flynn.
Men like Nate Parker who are black and relatively new in their careers can seemingly lose everything amid rape allegations, whereas men like Casey Affleck can survive an Oscar campaign with little no mention of his own sexual harassment accusations among his peers. Then, of course, there are the actors still lining to work with Woody Allen. Men like Affleck and Allen possess an alluring sense of power. There’ve been rumors and accusations against Weinstein for years, yet actors still can’t wait to breathlessly thank him in an Oscar speech. Bloom herself has thanks to give to Weinstein: not only is she his lawyer, but he’s also producing a television series based on her book Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice. In Hollywood, it appears that hypocrisy pays.
The Daily Beast reached out to Bloom for comment on representing Weinstein, and she responded with the following:
“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.”
In his own defense, and surefire proof that he definitely has the ability to “evolve to a higher standard,” Weinstein explained in a statement: “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”
Ah, yes. The old, I thought the current workplace was just like Mad Men excuse.