As Lisa Bloom’s former client, accused serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, is supposedly undergoing sex rehab while awaiting possible criminal charges in New York and London, the camera-ready women’s rights lawyer is undertaking a desperate campaign of reputation rehab.
On Friday, this crisis PR operation landed at The View.
It immediately became clear that the ABC News syndicated female-friendly chat show was more than willing to put all its resources and ratings at Bloom’s service, when regular panelist Sunny Hostin, herself an attorney, instructed the audience, “Please welcome my friend, Lisa Bloom,” and gave Bloom an affectionate arm-squeeze.
What followed over the course of two segments was a softball interrogation—a series of love taps, really—that allowed Bloom to express her regrets over joining Weinstein’s legal team last fall (something she already did a month ago on Good Morning America) as New York magazine, NBC News, the New York Times and later the New Yorker launched investigations into the movie mogul’s sexual misconduct; Weinstein was fired from his eponymous film studio after the Times and the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow detailed horrific incidents of sexual abuse and worse.
On The View, Bloom was also free to make highly debatable assertions unchallenged—such as her claim when she became Weinstein’s lawyer, she was totally unaware that the accusations against him went far beyond verbal harassment; more than a year earlier in March 2015, Italian model Ambra Battilana filed a widely publicized formal complaint with the New York Police Department that Weinstein groped her breasts and slid his hand up her dress.
Bloom said, having been for so many years, "on the outside," of such cases, Weinstein's scandal had given her "the opportunity get on the inside and talk to this guy directly. What I wanted him to do was change the response...apologize for what you did, acknowledge the wrongdoing, don't go after the women... that is what he did. I did accomplish that."
"My job was to educate him about sexual harassment laws, about the power imbalance, about what is appropriate and not appropriate in the workplace, including his tone," Bloom claimed.
Hostin, Joy Behar, Sara Haines and Meghan McCain listened empathetically as Bloom, apparently near tears, recounted the painful personal toll all the negative publicity has exacted from her, including the threats of rape and murder she received, and shared her hurt feelings over her famous mother Gloria Allred’s sharp public criticism of her Weinstein involvement.
“That was very hurtful—I would have preferred a phone call,” Bloom said about Allred’s press release boasting that she would never represent a client like Weinstein. "My mom is a great fighter for women's rights. She's smart, she's feisty, she's a role model for me, she's a role model for many, many people. I think we're going to work this out."
Bloom added of the "overwhelming" threats she had received: “There was a point a few weeks ago I was really in a free fall. My husband caught me, and has been there for me. My daughter was there for me. My son was there for me, my foster son, my friends and clients...they rallied around me and showered me with love that I hope one day to deserve.”
It wouldn’t be a Lisa Bloom TV appearance if she didn’t publicize her latest headline-making legal presentation, and so introduced her new high-profile client, former New Jersey Democratic Party official Michael Panter, who’s being sued for $5 million by Bill O’Reilly over a Facebook post alleging that the disgraced ex-Fox News star harassed and abused his then-girlfriend.
Panter grinned—and Bloom positively beamed—while the studio audience applauded.
Bloom was even permitted to give out a website address in support of Panter’s defense.
Bloom has achieved fame and fortune—and lots of television time—representing women who accused celebrity abusers such as O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump—which made her representation of Weinstein and another accused harasser, Amazon executive Roy Price, deeply damaging to her brand.
As the Weinstein investigations ramped up, sources said she offered opposition research to Farrow in an effort to discredit the movie mogul’s accusers, including Scream actress Rose McGowan, who has said Weinstein raped her during the 1997 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
While representing another accused sexual harasser who went unmentioned on The View, disgraced Amazon Studios head Roy Price, Bloom and her co-counsel, Charles Harder, spread falsehoods in effort to discredit Hollywood Reporter editor at large Kim Masters, whose stories about Price’s misconduct—whispering “anal sex!” in the ear of Man in the High Castle show runner Isa Hackett, among other instances of misconduct–resulted in his forced resignation.
Behar asked Bloom if she was involved in “digging up dirt” on McGowan, and Bloom said she was not: "My role was an advisor on these issues."
This, of course, didn’t stop her from defending the propriety of her business relationship with Weinstein, who made a deal to turn her book on the Trayvon Martin trial into a TV series.
She acknowledged her TV deal with Weinstein had "clouded" her judgement ("I was very excited"), while declaring: “I’m mortified that I was connected with him in any way.” She "got" while people are disappointed in her, and added, "I'm sorry."
Asked why she had resigned from representing Weinstein, Bloom said she was "shocked" having read the panoply of women's accounts of abuse by the producer.
Behar also asked about comedian Kathy Griffin’s unhappy experience as Bloom’s client when Griffin was under fire in the Trump/severed head incident—and Bloom countered: “Most of my clients are very happy.” She added that Griffin was "terrific," and wished her the best.
Bloom still has a lot to answer for—and whatever success at image repair she enjoyed on Friday is likely to be temporary.