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How Sexual Harassers Quash Stories

How Sexual Harassers Quash Stories


This piece by Lloyd Grove in the Daily Beast gave me the chills. It describes the attack strategy attorney Lisa Bloom used during her time as Harvey Weinstein‘s paid defender.  The example given is how Bloom went about discrediting Rose McGowan. This story explains how even when women do speak out, they can still have their story suppressed.


Clients Turn on ‘Champion for Women’ Lisa Bloom After Her Scorched Earth Crusade for Harvey Weinstein

When you go up against a person who has money and power they aren’t just going to roll over. They will fight back. Sometimes viciously. They will use multiple intimidation tactics, including hiring lawyers to make subtle and not so subtle threats to control the narrative.

They will use carrots and sticks to achieve their goals. Big sticks. These threats are designed to scare the crap out of most people. At least if there is the possibility of a payout, some people can get the kind of lawyers who will take the case.

We often don’t see details about many harassment cases because of the intimidation of journalists and their publishers.

Hiring lawyers and PR fixers to intimidate people is the method used by the rich and powerful. Harassers who don’t have money use other methods to intimidate before and after the fact. It is helpful to be prepared for these actions. People often ask what they can do to help when they see someone being harassed. Keeping track of details you witnessed, and helping with hard evidence to support claims later, is one way to help.

I’m not an expert, but I’ve seen things…

It also helps to think like a prosecutor or an investigative journalist when trying to help. “How good is the evidence?” “How many sources can we get on the record?”

If you have good sources, you still need to understand how they will be attacked, discredited or dismissed. This is another reason why you don’t read more of these stories. To defeat people at this level you need to think like a defense lawyer and a security professional. “How will they respond to my source? What will the rational attacks be? What will the irrational attacks look like?”

If you are prepared for them, you might be able to use the attacks against them. But most people aren’t prepared to gather evidence and also think three steps ahead. People don’t want to live that way, they just want it to stop.

Following these latest revelations of men doing horrible things, and the people helping them, you will start to see stories of people who have been falsely accused. Yes, these actually happen. But what you won’t see is a sense of proportion of real stories to false accusations. This is because of the media’s idea of a 50/50 “balance” to all stories.  The fixers for guilty parties will take advantage of this “balance” format. Watch for it.

Who will run these “balanced” stories the most? The mainstream media.  Right now the media is actively seeking out these stories so they can claim balance. Here’s the twisted part–they will get experts and survivors to provide them.

I can almost hear an NPR reporter asking the expert, “Are there false accusations? What about women harassing men?”

The reporter is doing what they see as their job, getting “both sides” of the story. The expert might have 100 stories of  convicted male harassers and one false accusation story. I can guaran-damn-tee they will be asked for the false accusation example. The interview or story will then include two male harassment stories and one story of a false accusation harasser. We might get a story of a female harasser thrown in for good measure. (“Hey wasn’t Jennifer Aniston a harasser in that movie about bad bosses? Let’s see if we can interview her!”)

Experts need to anticipate this and flip it back on its head when talking to the media. Give a ratio, emphasise the majority stories but know what the media will ask for. It’s part of their due diligence process that they have internalized. It’s also part of their need for novel stories and the exception proves the rule mindset. As a sophisticated reader of news you will notice this pattern, but others won’t.

So what’s the excuse for people who aren’t in the news business, why will they bring up the false accusation stories and reversed gender harassment stories?

Men don’t want to be lumped in with harassers.  Some might start bringing up false accusation stories or stories of female harassers they hear. They will say, “Not all men!” “Sometimes women lie! It’s true! Look at this data!”  They will want to be heard. How do you respond? Let me mansplain my response.

One time, decades ago, I found one mistake a female co-worker had made while keying in 10’s of thousands of numbers. I was excited to find it and point it out because I had been the source of multiple mistakes.  When I brought the print out up to her she acknowledged the error and said,  “My one to your one hundred, Spocko. My one to your one hundred.”

She acknowledged the fact, pointed out the ratio and reminded me again who was the main source of the problem. Me. I was the one who needed to do better, not her.


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