In July, the New York Times published an exposé that lodged many an allegation about then-head of Hearst Digital Media Troy Young’s seeming inability to NOT talk about his dong at work. As a result of the transgressions detailed in the Times’ reporting, Young resigned, issuing a mealy-mouthed apology that didn’t really address the fact that he once said a woman coworker should’ve inserted her fingers into herself and presented them to her date to smell. Now that Young has retreated to wherever disgusting men go once their shit has been aired, New York magazine has published a big overview of just how bad it was at Hearst under Young’s reign.
The context that writer Benjamin Wallace offers for Young’s behavior is that Hearst was always and will always be the snotty-nosed lesser-than to Condé Nast. While Condé had Anna Wintour and Graydon Carter and Devil Wears Prada, Hearst published magazines that, for the most part, appealed to “regular” people. Young, who was hired in 2013, came in hot—a “salesman” and an “ad guy,” and a “bull in a china shop,” according to another man, Steve Hansen, whose company, the since-dead Spin Media, Young consulted for. The purpose of bringing Young into Hearst in the first place was to revitalize Cosmopolitan’s web presence. Young, a man with nominal experience in editorial but a lot of “experience” in and around “the internet” makes little sense for that position, but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles. It is this experience that, as ever, did not translate well to the editors at Hearst, nor did the way he treated the precious work of creating ideas, stories, and content as a problem that could be solved by optimization, scale, and whatever other words you might imagine an actor on Silicon Valley would say in a business meeting. Young also loved to be, for lack of a better phrase, a fucking pervert.
The comparison that Wallace and others come up with for Young is that he is much like Michael Scott, the boorish and gross little (fictional) boss of a paper company in Scranton, from the TV show, The Office. After perusing the allegations presented in New York’s report, I’m inclined to say that calling Young anything close to Michael Scott is rude to Michael Scott. An example:
Over drinks with Esquire digital staff at Lincoln Park, a bar on Ninth Avenue, Young hazed a digital editor about how much pubic hair he had and grilled a young politics writer who was living with his parents about whether he masturbated and watched porn at home, not relenting until finally the writer said, “I don’t know, does your son masturbate at home?” At another Hearst event, Young went up to two male publishers and said, “Which one of you fucks the other up the ass?” He would call employees “faggot” and an Italian American woman on the digital side a “wop.” A former Esquire editor says, “I’ve been in meetings where he’d say stuff like ‘It smells like my dead grandmother in here after I fucked her’ as an icebreaker.” He told a digital executive who’d just returned from maternity leave that she was a “MILF” and a “sexy mommy.” During a meeting of senior executives, two women seated behind him were stunned to see that he was watching porn on his phone.
Cool guy. When Young eventually took over the job that his predecessor, David Carey vacated, Joanna Coles of Cosmo quit a week later, telling people privately that she could not and would not work under this man. It looked like Coles was passed over by top brass in favor of Young, but as this story points out, that wasn’t the case—he was always on the path to the top, even though he didn’t deserve it! And the fact that he rocketed up there so quickly has only made his fall that much more swift.
Read the full piece, which is a little insider-y if you like that sort of thing, at New York.