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Aug 10, 2020

Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. In her discussion with political scientist Matthew Berkman, documentarian IVY MEEROPOL describes the stories she was obliged to cut from her 2019 HBO film, Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, for lack of definitive proof. This included a quickly buried investigation in the 1980s into Cohn’s involvement in the Jeffrey-Epstein style trafficking of minors. Meeropol also pursued a lead suggesting that a statement by one of his acquaintances, that “Roy could have you killed,” was not at all figurative. Cohn appeared in Meeropol’s own family story as the prosecutor who framed her grandmother, Ethel Rosenberg, and then urged that she be executed. He went on to assist Joe McCarthy in his anti-Communist witch hunt, and then to become a Republican power broker whose influence rested on favors, threats, media savvy, and connections. It was Cohn’s support that paved Donald Trump’s entry into political life. While many have simply declared him evil, however, Meeropol never loses sight of the ways his actions were motivated by self-protection in a society deeply hostile to gay men.