Nov 20, 2017

NYT's Glenn Thrush suspended after accusations of sexual misconduct

New York Times star White House reporter Glenn Thrush. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The New York Times has suspended one of its most high-profile reporters, White House Correspondent Glenn Thrush, after several women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior in a Vox report.

Why it matters: Thrush is the latest in a string of powerful men in media to be accused. Several Washington reporters told Vox they were disappointed by the news, as Thrush has repeatedly presented himself as an advocate for women journalists.

The allegations:

  • A 23-year-old woman who works at Politico, where Thrush worked before joining NYT, said she and Thrush had a few drinks at a colleague's work party in June. At the end of the night, she says she was left on a street corner in tears after she resisted Thrush's sexual advances. The woman's friend Bianca Padró Ocasio, also a reporter, confronted Thrush about his behavior the next day. She told him in a text message: "I want to make sure you don't lure young women aspiring journalists into those situations ever again. So help me out here. How can I do that?"
  • Laura McGann, a journalist at Vox and author of this report, recounted a similar story from five years ago, when she and Thrush were colleagues at Politico. McGann said Thrush was in the same bar as Padró Ocasio's friend when "he caught me off guard, put his hand on my thigh, and suddenly started kissing me." Thrush said he remembers the encounter differently (statement below).
  • Two other young women told McGann about other similar experiences, ranging from unwanted groping and kisses to "hazy sexual encounters" after consuming alcohol. They described having felt a mix of emotions: "scared, violated, ashamed, weirded out." McGann said she felt, and still feels, angry.

Statement from the NYT:

"The behavior attributed to Glenn in this Vox story is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times. We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended."

The Times also said Thrush told them that he plans to check into a substance abuse program.

Statement from Glenn Thrush:

"I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately. Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable. My recollection of my interactions with Laura differs greatly from hers – the encounter was consensual, brief, and ended by me. She was an editor above me at the time and I did not disparage her to colleagues at POLITICO as she claims. The assertion that I would rate women based on their appearance is also false.
"I have never offered mentorship or reporting advice to anyone, man or woman, with an expectation of anything in return. To assert otherwise is false. The June incident related in the story was a life-changing event. The woman involved was upset by my actions and for that I am deeply sorry. Over the past several years, I have responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily. During that period, I have done things that I am ashamed of, actions that have brought great hurt to my family and friends.
"I have not taken a drink since June 15, 2017, have resumed counseling and will soon begin out-patient treatment for alcoholism. I am working hard to repair the damage I have done."

Full disclosure: The founders of Axios were at Politico for portions of Thrush's tenure there. Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, the former CEO of Politico, said the allegations are serious and troubling and wishes he had been aware of the behavior at the time. "We would have been intolerant of it," he said.

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