‘She Said’: Harvey Weinstein and That Lisa Bloom Memo

“I feel equipped to help you against the Roses of the world,” Bloom had noted in that 2016 memo, “because I have represented so many of them.”

Lawyers in general, acting as both the foot soldiers and the brand ambassadors of the American justice system, do not come off well in She Said. In addition to Bloom, there is Bloom’s mother, the lawyer-crusader Gloria Allred: “While the attorney cultivated a reputation for giving female victims a voice,” the authors write, “some of her work and revenue was in negotiating secret settlements that silenced them and buried allegations of sexual harassment and assault.” There is Lanny Davis, the lawyer and political operative, who offered the Times reporters this statement in an interview: “So let’s say for now, even on a background basis, that I need to find out what my limits are legally, even if on background I am confirming settlements.” There is David Boies, perhaps best known for his work successfully defending the marriage rights of same-sex couples, who makes many appearances attempting to delay the Times investigation. (Boies told Kantor and Twohey that he had been unaware of some of Weinstein’s most egregious tactics—the use of spies, for one thing, to gather opposition research on journalists and accusers; Boies ultimately told them, though, that he didn’t have “any regret that I represented him the way I did.”)

Linda Fairstein (yes, that Linda Fairstein) also makes an appearance in She Said: The attorney accompanied Weinstein, along with Bloom and the attorney Elkan Abramowitz, as the producer paid a surprise in-person visit to the Times just before the publication of its initial story about him—a final, desperate act that seemed designed by turns to intimidate and to charm the journalists away from publication.

It is not long, in the book, before the well-oiled machinery of Weinstein’s protection apparatus begins to creak and whine. Kantor and Twohey describe what amounts to a Potemkin defense strategy directed at them with increasing urgency: Weinstein’s defenders—including the man himself—alternately yell at them, and cajole them, and beg them, and threaten defamation suits against the Times. But the team denied until they could deny no more. On October 5, the day the Times pressed publish, Bloom sent a memo to the board of The Weinstein Company: “This is the worst day,” it read. “This is the day the New York Times came out with a largely false and defamatory piece, in a major violation of journalistic ethics … .”

It would be easy to read Bloom as a scapegoat. (McGowan, for one, has argued that Bloom be disbarred.) But the lawyer, like her erstwhile client, is also emblematic of a much more sweeping problem. Bloom, in She Said’s nuanced telling, appears to have exploited a legal system that is all too easily bent toward the interests of the powerful. She now tells Kantor and Twohey that she regrets having defended Weinstein. She suggests that she, like so many others, had been deceived by Weinstein’s manipulations. “I was naive,” Bloom tells the reporters in an email included in the book. Yesterday afternoon she offered, on Twitter, another note of contrition: “To those who missed my 2017 apology, and especially to the women: I am sorry.”

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