Depending on where you sit, Harvey Weinstein is either a sick, troubled pig or just a pig. The disgraced former movie mogul is now despised by just about everybody (with the apparent exception of NBC News).
But what’s lost in the daily revelations of new Harvey sexual victims and Weinstein Company indignities is the other related, rapid fall from grace that was nearly as precipitous as Harvey’s.
Lisa Bloom, crusading daughter of crusading mother Gloria Allred, publicity-seeker par excellence and eager Harvey Weinstein public relations spokeswoman, resigned in shame after being pilloried for agreeing to speak for Harvey “Oink Oink” in the first place.
Bloom’s dramatic public demise provides a cautionary lesson for any public relations counselor tempted to go to work for a deep-pocketed but ethically-suspect client.
While any miscreant is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution the right to a lawyer, there’s no such similar guarantee for a public relations counselor. In PR, you don’t have to work for anybody you don’t want to represent. For in public relations, as in life, you’re judged by the company you keep. And if you choose to go to work for O. J. Simpson or Bashar el Assad or Nelly or Harvey Weinstein or another of that ilk, you are judged accordingly.
Which is precisely what happened to Lisa Bloom, whose public relations representation of Mr. Weinstein was doomed from the start.
First, she’s a lawyer, not a public relations professional. And just as hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci proved unqualified to handle PR, so, too, did Lisa Bloom.
A PR professional confronted with Weinstein’s transgressions would have immediately acknowledged them publicly, asked for understanding and moved on to a course of remediation. But Bloom, the lawyer, instead chose to parse Weinstein’s failings, describing him as “deeply bothered by some of his emotional responses and temper … and chagrined the issue still plagues him.”
Every time she opened her mouth to defend Mr. Weinstein’s indefensible, decades-old piggish treatment of women, she pounded his — and her own — reputation further into the ground.
Second, Bloom’s representation of Weinstein was irreparably tainted. Not only was she paid extravagantly to represent him publicly, but Weinstein had earlier agreed to produce a mini-series based on a book Bloom had written.
Now, all of this might have been just peachy had it not flown in the face of Bloom’s entire career. Up until she signed up with a serial sexual harasser, Bloom had earned a reputation as an outspoken defender of sexually harassed women.
And so, mercifully, after a week in the Weinstein saddle — and no doubt sufficiently shoved by her aghast mother —Ms. Bloom resigned. But the damage to her reputation and her business was done. What self-respecting woman claiming harassment would ever again hire the woman who defended Harvey Weinstein?
As further proof of the dangers in representing the Weinsteins of the world, in the wake of Bloom’s resignation, one of Harvey’s other public relations counselors, Lanny Davis, surreptitiously slunk away as well.
Davis, of course, was the Bill Clinton lawyer-apologist, who morphed into a self-acknowledged public relations expert. Among the erstwhile lawyer’s more prominent public relations clients were the former president of the Ivory Coast, who was jailed for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, and the former president of Equatorial Guinea, who was charged with torturing opponents as well as stiffing Lanny on his consulting bill.
At least Lanny shouldn’t have similar problems collecting from Harvey Weinstein.
Fraser P. Seitel has been a communications consultant, author and teacher for 40 years. He is the author of the Prentice- Hall text “The Practice of Public Relations,” now in its eleventh edition, and co-author of “Rethinking Reputation" and "Idea Wise.” He may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.