Though she’s never shied away from the spotlight, celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom raised eyebrows this week by joining the legal team of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was hit with numerous accusations of sexual assault as part of an extensive New York Times report.
Bloom, a lawyer who built a reputation on representing women in high-profile sexual harassment cases against powerful men, came under fire from critics. They pointed to Weinstein’s recent purchase of the movie rights to a book Bloom published, and they suggested Bloom seems to have a blind spot for Hollywood executives.
But Bloom still has some defenders: Her former clients.
Bloom was by Wendy Walsh’s side during a press conference earlier this year in which the former Fox News contributor described losing her status as a contributor after rebuffing former host Bill O’Reilly’s sexual advances in 2013. (O’Reilly has denied Walsh’s claims.)
In a brief telephone interview with Business Insider on Friday, Walsh fiercely defended Bloom, arguing she is “still protecting women” and saying that Bloom “will not slam the victims.” She advised Weinstein to come clean and apologise.
“She said, ‘I don’t need consciousness raising, I need consciousness lowering,'” Walsh said, adding: “Lisa doesn’t need money, she has a successful she’s doing well without Weinstein.”
Bloom has acknowledged that her strategy for helping Weinstein navigate the scandal has been somewhat unusual: She’s insisted that he apologise and has said the Hollywood mogul is working to rehabilitate himself through therapy.
Walsh said she had a “knee-jerk” negative reaction when she heard Bloom was representing Weinstein, but changed her mind when she thought about projects Weinstein worked on that benefited women and heard Bloom’s explanation.
“What else could Harvey Weinstein do?” Walsh said. “He has spent a period of time and will continue to do so underwriting female projects, bringing voices to women’s stories, as he’s had these new kinds of awakening.”
As an example of what she said was Bloom’s commitment to women and social-justice issues, Walsh described Bloom’s reaction when Walsh gave her a copy of “Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto,” a critique of mainstream feminism as toothless.
One other former client, Jill Harth, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against President Donald Trump in 1997. She retained Bloom last year when Trump threatened to sue women who accused him of sexual harassment.
In an email, Harsh wrote that Bloom had a “very high level of integrity” and said she had “no reason to doubt her reasons to take him on as a client at all.”
Further, she praised Weinstein for appearing to take responsibility for some of his actions, which she argued Trump never did.
“I am all for people who have done wrong to evolve and improve themselves and she is too,” Harth said.
She added: “That’s all we ever wanted from Trump when he accused me of lying about acts he knows he did. Trump never did that for me. As far as I am concerned, Harvey Weinstein is a far superior as a human just for doing that. It’s more than I can ever say for Trump.”
Still, many others have expressed disappointment at Bloom’s decision to represent Weinstein.
While Bloom has argued that she is simply advising Weinstein, the studio head has also prepared a lawsuit against The New York Times, which he said published its expose on his history of alleged sexual harassment without giving him ample time to respond. (The paper gave him 24 hours.)
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday, host George Stephanopoulos said he was surprised to see Bloom defending Weinstein when she’s taken on individuals like O’Reilly, Trump, and Bill Cosby.
“Here’s the problem,” Stephanopoulos said. “The New York Times says in interviews eight women described varying behaviour 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,” he said. “This is textbook sexual harassment.”
“It’s gross,” Bloom replied.
“It’s illegal,” Stephanopoulos pointed out.
“Yeah, I agree,” Bloom said. “I am here as his adviser, I’m not defending him in any sexual harassment cases, there aren’t any sexual harassment cases.”
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