Ever since the New York Times dropped the story detailing decades of alleged sexual harassment and assault, coverups, and payoffs by superproducer Harvey Weinstein, three main narratives have followed. The first, of course, is how long it took for this to become a big story, as many have talked about how it has been an open secret in Hollywood for years. The second is a lack of shock that Weinstein was accused of doing such things. And finally, the dismay that attorney Lisa Bloom — daughter of Gloria Allred and self-professed champion of women — had been working with him.
What has made it so troubling is that until now, Bloom has been known for her dedication to championing women who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. A small sampling of her previous clients includes Blac Chyna, Janice Dickinson, Mischa Barton, some of the women who accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment and assault, and most recently, Monita Sabbag, who found herself part of an extortion plot against comedian Kevin Hart — and was also videotaped in sexual situations without her knowledge. In a previous interview with Yahoo, Bloom spoke candidly about her desire to help these women, saying, “I know that one of the healthiest things a woman can do is to stand up for herself and speak her truth. And I am honored to assist her in becoming empowered.”
So how does that check with all the women now speaking their truth about Weinstein? In a statement issued by her office yesterday, Bloom said she’s been working with Weinstein to help him understand the error of his ways and showed him how his position as a Hollywood power player might help people see some of his behavior in a less than positive light.
“As a women’s rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me,” Bloom said. “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.”
But it’s one of the comments Bloom made in her statement that’s causing a lot of eyebrow raising: “And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful toward me.”
The book in question is Suspicion Nation, Bloom’s 2014 tome about the Trayvon Martin case. In March it was optioned by Weinstein after what’s been described as a heated auction, and it’s now being made into a miniseries with Jay-Z as a producer. What’s interesting is the timing. In her statement discussing her work with Weinstein, she mentions having been tutoring him for a year, which means she’s been teaching him how to not be a jerk to women since October of 2016 — long before her book auction, and long before the previously hidden allegations came to light.
For her part, Bloom is doubling down on her support of Weinstein, telling the Associated Press that she wants to “make a difference on the other side,” while also claiming many of the allegations were overblown. She admits she knew about his behavior and says he “admitted to being stupid,” and that she wants to “explain to him the laws of sexual harassment and why this is important.”
Bloom dismisses comparisons to two other famous men accused of sexual misconduct.
“The facts there are very different. Bill Cosby is accused of being a serial rapist,” she told the AP. “There’s allegedly a recording of Bill O’Reilly calling women while he was masturbating. So that’s a whole different level. In this case we are talking if the allegations are that he said some stupid things … some things he clearly should not have said. He said some things that are offensive to women and he said, ‘Lisa … help me understand … why can’t I just make jokes? Why can’t I just say things like that?’ ‘You know Harvey? … It’s 2017 for God’s sake.’ I mean those have been the kinds of conversations we’ve had.”
Bloom says the claims of Weinstein trampling over the line of verbal harassment are in dispute by the producer, and, “This is not an easy time for him either. Probably nobody has sympathy for him right now and that’s fine.” And while she claims Weinstein isn’t in the business of digging up dirt on the women accusing him and trying to smear their name, as Lainey Gossip points out, Weinstein subtly discredited one of his accusers, actress Ashley Judd, in a comment to the New York Post.
“I know Ashley Judd is going through a tough time right now,” Weinstein told the paper. “I read her book [her memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet], in which she talks about being the victim of sexual abuse and depression as a child. Her life story was brutal, and I have to respect her. In a year from now I am going to reach out to her.”
Meanwhile, Bloom’s mother, attorney Gloria Allred, had reportedly spoken out against her daughter’s decision to represent Weinstein but has since given the AP an updated comment saying she wasn’t criticizing Bloom’s choice.
“She has the right to rep anyone that in her professional opinion she should represent. I have no problem with that at all,” she said. “I only represent victims of sexual harassment. I don’t represent people who are accused of sexual harassment. But people who are accused of sexual harassment are also entitled to have an attorney.”
For his part, Weinstein announced Thursday that he would be voluntarily taking a leave of absence from his company — the Weinstein Company — to deal with the allegations. On Friday, however, the company announced that he would be placed on “indefinite leave” while an internal investigation of the claims against him is conducted. His return, the majority of the company’s board of directors said, depends on the findings of that investigation and his progress in therapy.
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