The New Republic has placed its publisher Hamilton Fish on a leave of absence pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment that came to light on Monday. Since news of Fish’s suspension, however, new allegations about his mistreatment of woman colleagues have come to light, including decade-old allegations about his conduct during his time at the non-profit media organization The Nation Institute.
In a letter sent Sunday evening, TNR owner Win McCormack wrote that he “been made aware that a number of employees have come forward in the last few days to express concern about certain workplace interactions.” “As I understand them, these concerns relate specifically to interactions between Ham Fish and a number of women employees,” McCormack added. Though McCormack did not elaborate on the details of the “workplace interactions” mentioned in his email, Fish himself seemed to deny the allegations. “Classic take down underway. We’ll see,” Fish wrote in an email to Deadline.
Shortly after Fish’s suspension from TNR was announced, HuffPost published a report that detailed reports of Fish’s behavior while president of The Nation Institute, including allegations that Fish “grabbed the neck of a high-ranking female employee” and made numerous, unsolicited “suggestive remarks at work.” Some of those allegations date back a decade but indicate that Fish’s behavior was an open secret even before he stepped into his role at TNR.
In addition to grabbing the neck of a colleague that “left red marks,” Fish allegedly gave “unwelcome shoulder massages,” remarked on women’s clothes and bodies, and “assigned top female employees menial tasks, like typing up his letters.” According to HuffPost, Fish’s behavior at The Nation Institute was not only egregious but unchecked:
Fish treated The Nation Institute as his “personal domain,” said a source who was on staff during Fish’s tenure at the organization. “The patterns of inappropriate behavior [...] it all took place against a backdrop where there was no personnel handbook and no one in an HR role. He was the lone decider on all personnel matters large and small.
Left with little recourse, employees at The Nation Institute compiled their complaints about Fish and apparently presented them to the board. Fish left in 2009 (a former board member denies that he was fired, as does Fish) and held positions at well-regarded publications like Lapham’s Quarterly, The Baffler, and the Washington Spectator, before McCormack appointed him the publisher of TNR in 2016. The irony is that even though Fish’s behavior was an open secret—shared, the Huffington Post reports, between female employees at The Nation and TNR—it had little to no impact on his career until this post-Weinstein, post-Shitty Media Men moment. Rather, he seems to have moved easily between prestigious publications with only whispers following him.
At TNR, “Fish would approach women from behind, put his hands on their shoulders, sometimes massaging them,” two staffers told HuffPost. Fish has denied the allegations and said that the neck-grabbing incident “did not happen as described.”