UPDATE Thursday morning: Although CNN has disappeared Ryan Lizza, a political commentator, since he was fired by The New Yorker for “improper sexual conduct,” the cabler has characterized its move as a suspension “while we look into this.” The reference below now reflects the distinction.
EARLIER: New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, who was suspended last month in the wake of allegations he had behaved inappropriately with female colleagues, will be allowed to return in late January, the paper announced this afternoon. The Times added that Thrush, a recently hired star in the paper’s Washington bureau, will have a new assignment.
Times executive editor Dean Baquet said the company had completed an inquiry into accounts by four colleagues that were published last month by the news website Vox. The investigation concluded that Thrush had “behaved in ways that we do not condone.”
“While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively,” Baquet said, “we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired.” Baquet also said Thrush was undergoing counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation on his own and that he would receive training “to improve his workplace conduct.”
Thrush had no immediate comment.
The Times posting on its own internal process and decision-making marked an unusually frank and detailed example of corporate transparency in a cultural moment that has seen the emergence of #MeToo, on the one hand, and the firing or resignations of high-level executives in the wake of unspecified allegations, on the other. Few would argue that an important sea-change is occurring in the way the victims of sexual assault and abuse are being taken seriously since the explosive and career-ending reports concerning Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and the late Roger Ailes and film producer Harvey Weinstein. But many, including some victims’ advocates, have worried about the atmosphere that has quickly changed from the publishing of detailed, on-the-record accounts to vague and undifferentiated, anonymous charges.
The New Yorker magazine, for example, recently severed relations with one of its Washington-based stars, Ryan Lizza, while offering consumers of their news no explanation other than a statement that it had concluded an investigation into allegations. CNN, where Lizza contributed political analysis, has suspended him pending its own investigation. PBS personality Tavis Smiley has denounced the pubcaster for suspending distribution of his talk show when it learned of multiple sexual relationships with women who worked for him. PBS has responded vigorously, defending the move based, in part, on Smiley’s own statements.
The Times said its inquiry into Thrush was led by Charlotte Behrendt, a lawyer in its newsroom, and involved interviews with more than 30 people in New York and Washington inside and outside the paper. Her report was reviewed by Baquet and a group of top editors. Baquet, the top editor, told Thrush today of the decision, according to Times reporter Sydney Ember.
“We understand that our colleagues and the public at large are grappling with what constitutes sexually offensive behavior in the workplace and what consequences are appropriate,” Baquet said. “Each case has to be evaluated based on individual circumstances. We believe this is an appropriate response to Glenn’s situation.”
Thrush’s behavior, according to the Vox story, included unwanted kissing and touching. One of the women, Laura McGann, wrote the article, which was presented in the first person. The three other women cited in the article were not identified by name.
Thrush was hired by the Times from Politico in January to cover the Trump administration, and his was a frequent byline on the front page. He became well-known enough to merit portrayal by Bobby Moynihan on Saturday Night Live.
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