Last November, Vox published a story by politics editor Laura McGann about New York Times politics reporter Glenn Thrush and what she called his “history of bad judgment” around young women journalists. The story detailed four women’s assertions that Thrush came onto or harassed them, usually in situations involving alcohol. Three allegedly took place during Thrush’s time as a reporter at Politico, and one after he moved to the New York Times. The women included McGann herself: The reporter wrote that Thrush kissed her and touched her thigh non-consensually at a bar, then later told their coworkers that she was the aggressor, which she believes might have negatively affected how she was treated at work.
The story was part of a tide that rushed out during the #MeToo movement; after the publicity around the Shitty Media Men list, there was a sudden and vociferous public debate about whether women in media were obligated to continue keeping secrets about the bad behavior of their male counterparts. (As I recall it, the version of the Shitty Media Men list I saw didn’t have Thrush’s name on it; it did contain the names of several of my former coworkers and friends.)
Thrush, who became a reporter at the Times on the prestigious White House beat after leaving Politico, issued a statement apologizing “to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately.” He also denied having harassed McGann, writing in the same statement that “the encounter described was consensual, brief, and ended by me.” And he denied having ever “offered mentorship or reporting advice to anyone, man or woman, with an expectation of anything in return.”
Thrush also said he was “deeply sorry” for another incident described in the story, in which a younger woman who’d been drinking described him repeatedly trying to kiss her and lead her into a secluded outdoor area, only stopping and walking away when she began to cry. He added that he had begun counseling and outpatient treatment for alcoholism.
Thrush has never mentioned the story or the allegations publicly again, even declining to comment when the Times itself covered them. McGann, too, has moved on to other stories. But what she hasn’t discussed, until now, is what she came to believe was a smear campaign directed at her, in an apparent attempt to undercut or even kill her story.
McGann’s story had both immediate and long-term consequences: Its publication triggered an internal investigation at the Times, which took about a month. Thrush was suspended for two more months from the newspaper, and was reassigned to cover Housing and Urban Development, a move that was widely, if controversially, considered a demotion.
In a statement announcing Thrush’s suspension at the time, the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet wrote, “While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired.” He added, a few lines down, “Each case has to be evaluated based on individual circumstances. We believe this is an appropriate response to Glenn’s situation.” (Baquet declined to answer most of our questions.)
Thrush’s removal from the White House beat was a startling development for a reporter who was an undisputed heavy hitter, so recognizable that he was parodied on Saturday Night Live (as was his trademark fedora) and, along with fellow reporter Maggie Haberman, set up with a career-making deal to write a book about the Trump White House. (He was bounced from the project following McGann’s story and his suspension, though he was allowed to keep his advance.)
But for McGann, that wasn’t the end of the story. She agreed to share a series of legal letters and emails with Jezebel that illuminate the backstory behind her piece, as well as its strange aftermath.
In short: In the time period when Thrush was being investigated by the Times for his alleged sexual misconduct, McGann says she was subjected to a bizarre whisper campaign. She came to believe that sources sympathetic to Thrush were telling the New York Times, media reporters covering the Thrush affair—and her own colleagues and her bosses—that her supposedly scandalous sex life made her suspect, an unreliable reporter, and someone who didn’t need to be listened to. If the rumors had had their intended effect, they would have tanked McGann’s career.
“It boiled down to this,” McGann told Jezebel. “I thought this was an important story. Glenn Thrush was one of the most prominent reporters covering Donald Trump, who’s been repeatedly accused of sexual assault, misconduct and harassment, and whose presidency is at the center of this major cultural moment around Me Too. In light of that, I thought Glenn Thrush’s own behavior was entirely relevant, important and newsworthy.”
“In terms of the backlash,” she said, finally, “in terms of thinking about writing the story, Glenn has reputation for lashing out when he’s confronted. I assumed he would, in some way. But what I didn’t expect was for him to be backed up and protected by people inside the New York Times.”
Laura McGann didn’t reach out to Jezebel, intent on reviving the Thrush controversy. Instead, after an odd Twitter interaction, I decided to contact her.
Thrush abandoned his Twitter account in September 2017, calling it “a distraction,” and it stayed dormant throughout his suspension and reassignment. (McGann wrote in her story that women in Washington had begun telling each other to, in her words, “careful if you meet him at an event with alcohol, or if he sends you a direct message on Twitter.”) Early this year, though, he returned to Twitter, where he tweets busily about his new beat and media gossip, and studiously ignores anyone who mentions the allegations against him.
I tweeted crankily at Thrush not long ago, referencing the allegations against him and how he’d returned to the media cesspool that is Twitter without directly addressing them.
After that tweet, Thrush contacted me through Twitter DMs, requesting that we have an off the record conversation. We had one. It was unremarkable, but the act of DMing me felt so odd, so truly unwise, that I reached out to McGann, asking if she had anything else about the Thrush saga she hadn’t reported. And as it turned out, she did.
When Thrush learned that McGann was reporting out a story about him, he hired an attorney, Tom Clare. Clare sent a letter to Vox, which suggested that the company look into McGann’s “relationships” in the newsroom at Politico, where McGann and Thrush had worked together.
“I’d urge you to ask the reporter about her own relationships in the workplace while at Politico,” wrote Clare. “[A]nd to consider what those relationships have in the motivation for (or telling of) the current article.”
McGann tells Jezebel that she took those lines to be a veiled reference to her sex life or her previous romantic relationships.
“I was shocked. Who puts that in black and white in 2017?” she says. “And certainly when we’re in the middle of a national conversation about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and why women haven’t been able to come forward? The New York Times was leading the coverage on this question of retaliation specifically and what men who are accused of these things do to women to keep them quiet. So for me there was a sense of shock and irony.”
Clare’s letter also claimed that Thrush had identified “several false statements in the draft, many of which stem from unsourced, and incorrect, speculation about Glenn’s motives, thinking, and conversations with others.” (McGann says Thrush was sent a list of questions, but wasn’t shown a draft of the story, which was not unusual; subjects are not shown drafts at virtually any publication.)
The letter also argued that McGann was unqualified to write the story, since she was making her own allegation of harassment:
There can be no urgency to publish an article, especially one that has the potential to cause great damage to Glenn and his family, without ensuring that it is 100% correct and supported by credible, first-hand sourcing.
This brings me to my main point, which Glenn’s written response will not address: the very real conflict that exists when the reporter attempts both to describe her own expedience and purport to report objectively on the experiences of others. There is no way that a reporter can be objective in that situation, and it creates a substantial risk that the reporter will bias the telling of another’s story through the prism of her own experience. That seems to be exactly what is happening here, where multiple people have spoken to the reporter with exculpatory facts and information about Glenn and the events at issue, but those sources and that exculpatory information have been ignored, apparently because they conflict with the reporter’s preconceived storyline. This very serious conflict requires reexamination of the entire article.
Clare sent the letter on November 19. Despite his threats that the story would be considered defamatory, Vox ran McGann’s story the next day, with Thrush’s apology included. He has yet to sue for defamation or for anything else.
(“Laura’s story was rigorously reported and fully vetted by Vox editors and attorneys,” Vox editor in chief Lauren Williams said in a statement to Jezebel. “We stand by the piece, and we stand by the carefully considered choice for Laura to both report out the story and include her own experience in it.”)
Clare denies that the reference to “relationships” was meant to be a veiled reference to McGann’s sex life. He told Jezebel in an email that the paragraph referred to a concern that she wouldn’t disclose any conflicts of interest, “office politics” or other issues that might influence her judgment. He writes, in full:
At the time that email was written prior to publication, nobody knew whether Ms. McGann was intending to write a first-person article, where she would disclose to readers that she had been personally in at least one of the workplaces she was planning to write about or if, on the other hand, she was intending to write a third-person account which, to a reader, would appear to be based solely on third-party sources separate from her own experiences. The email was pointing out that, if it were latter, the editors and lawyers vetting her article needed to know that she might have a conflict or that there might be other issues, i.e. office politics in those workplaces, interests in advancing her own career in those workplaces, reasons for her departures from those workplaces, that might bear on the objectivity of her reporting. Those issues obviously would not be relevant to allegations of harassment, and we weren’t suggesting otherwise. We viewed this solely as an issue of journalistic ethics to make sure that the author’s own role in the workplaces was clearly disclosed to editors (prior to publication) and to readers. We were quickly assured that she would be disclosing all of this in the article, and that was the end of it.
That explanation doesn’t quite make sense, though: The letter Jezebel saw also objects to McGann writing the story in the first person, which wouldn’t align with Clare’s claim that “nobody knew whether Ms. McGann was intending to write a first-person article” about her own workplace.
We asked Clare to clarify that discrepancy. He replied, “The point of the letter was to question Vox’s decision to allow her to be both the primary source and reporter on a news story that could have severe repercussions on the subject when they could have assigned a reporter without a conflict of interest.”
As for the specific line we’d asked about regarding McGann’s “relationships,” Clare added, “I was suggesting they consider whether Laura’s everyday workplace interactions with colleagues led to a change of attitude about her that she attributed to Glenn’s behavior in her story. We were requesting an independent canvass of the newsroom by a third party—in other words, the application of basic journalistic principles.”
Thrush himself ultimately declined to comment on the record for this piece.
“I think the statement will have to do,” he wrote, referring to the ones from his lawyer. “But tks for the opportunity.”
McGann’s story resulted in Thrush being suspended from Times shortly before it was published. Charlotte Behrendt, a lawyer for the New York Times, was then assigned to investigate the Thrush allegations. During the month-long investigation, the Times says, Behrendt spoke to close to 30 people. In a statement (printed in full at the bottom of this post), the Times called the investigation “rigorous and meticulous,” and said its results, and Thrush’s ultimate punishment, were debated by “a diverse group of 10 senior editors.”
McGann says she soon became concerned that her sexual and romantic history was not only being gossiped about, but was seeping its way into the Times’ inquiry. (Behrendt referred questions about the investigation to a Times spokesperson.)
“I found out almost immediately that my sex life was becoming part of the story,” McGann says. “The day the [Vox] story published, friends and acquaintances were saying to me that rumors were spreading around different newsrooms in Washington.”
McGann didn’t keep track of every rumor she heard was being spread, she adds, and her friends didn’t tell her in explicit detail everything that was being said.
“I don’t know everything that was said about me,” she says. “But what I can say is that some of these things were outright false and humiliating.” The worst, she says, “was when I found out reporters inside the New York Times in Washington and New York were talking about how I had performed a lewd act inside the Politico newsroom on a senior male editor, or possibly multiple male editors.”
That false rumor was relayed, she says, through a New York Times staffer she didn’t know, who called a mutual friend out of concern. (In a text message to Jezebel, the mutual friend said that the rumor they were told was that she “slept with an editor at Politico and that someone walked in on them having sex in an office/at a desk.”)
McGann was incensed. “As far as I was concerned, the New York Times can do whatever it wants,” she says. “ I didn’t ask them to investigate Glenn Thrush. I wrote a story. It was true. I put it out there. If they want to open up an HR investigation, that’s their business. But what they don’t get to do is use that investigation as a way to discredit me or my work as a journalist.”
McGann was also struck, she says, by the way that the rumors filtering back to her mirrored the language in Thrush’s lawyer’s letter. They seemed to echo the suggestion that her “relationships” would make her unfit to write about him.
“It was hard for me not to conclude that this was a concerted campaign,” she says, “There seemed to be a thematic drive to discredit me, and I couldn’t see how it was anything but deliberate, not random.”
As Behrendt’s investigation continued, three prominent media reporters—Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair, and Michael Calderone of Politico—all wrote stories about the battle over Glenn Thrush’s future that was raging inside the Times. All of them struck a common theme: How his case was handled was widely seen within the paper as not just a tricky HR matter, but a public relations one. The Times had done a series of big-deal stories on famous sexual predators, and there was institutional concern, Pompeo wrote, that mishandling the Thrush allegations would taint their public image or damage their chances at winning Pulitzers for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein. (Both the Times and The New Yorker ultimately won Pulitzers for their Weinstein stories.)
Wemple’s story at the Washington Post took on a slightly more combative tone towards McGann’s reporting, noting that she had declined to comment to him and speculating that she would be “possibly uncooperative” in the Times investigation. He also said that by acting as both an accuser and a reporter, McGann had put herself into a tricky situation—the same objection Thrush’s lawyer raised. (Update: After the publication of this piece, Wemple pointed out, quite fairly, that he speculated about McGann’s cooperation because she and her editors declined to comment on it directly.)
In an email, Jezebel asked Wemple if he was trying to say that Vox had made a mistake in allowing McGann to report the piece alone.
“Mistake?” he replied. “That’s a judgment call for Vox to make. My post was focused narrowly on the task that then lay ahead for the New York Times, which appeared to be a difficult one. As it turned out, it was indeed a difficult one – and one that prompted a great deal of debate afterwards.”
In the questions that Wemple sent to McGann’s editor at the time, which McGann showed to Jezebel, Wemple seemed particularly confused about one encounter.
“In her story,” Wemple wrote to McGann’s editor, “McGann outlines an episode that appears to be quite consensual—the one in which Thrush leaves when the woman points out that he’s married. In what way does this episode advance the story that Thrush is ‘himself one of the problems’ that women face?”
The story describes a woman who said she’d gone home with Thrush, although she was so impaired by alcohol that she remembers very little of it. The woman emphasizes that the encounter was consensual as far as she remembers, but that she was the one who stopped it. And she told McGann she worried afterwards that Thrush was gossiping about her in the office and potentially damaging her career.
That Wemple missed the point of the anecdote suggests that he didn’t really understand quite what the Thrush story was about. When we asked him about it, Wemple told Jezebel that he thought the passage raised questions that it didn’t answer.
“I can’t speak to what the purpose of this passage is,” he wrote. “That’s a question best placed before Vox.com. I can assess only what’s on the page: Which is that this consensual encounter occurred and that the woman became ‘concerned he was talking about her in the office afterwards and damaging her standing,’ as you accurately put the issue. Was Thrush, in fact, gossiping about her? That was another question left for the NYT investigation.”
Wemple also asked McGann’s editor another, perhaps more reasonable question: Whether she’d written the story because she didn’t get a job at the New York Times.
“Sources tell me that McGann applied for a job at the New York Times over the past year or so,” he wrote in his email. “Did that experience play any role in her decision to write the story?”
McGann says that she had lunch with the DC bureau chief, Elisabeth Bumiller, in the summer of 2017 about a possible editorial job. “We exchanged some emails afterwards, casually, and she said to me over the summer that she would make a decision about this position she and I had talked about at the end of the year,” McGann says. “That was the total of my engagement on the subject.”
The slim possibility of a job, she adds, “just was not a factor. I just didn’t factor in this lunch in deciding whether or not to write the story.”
In The Fourth Estate, a Showtime series about the Times, Bumiller herself characterized the Vox story as, perhaps, an effort to smear the paper. Given the paper’s work on sexual assault stories, she says, “it was not surprising that, you know, the Times would be in somebody’s sights.”
Bumiller also opined on the show that the debates at the paper over harassment issues were generational.
“I noticed in this office that there’s a real divide on sexual harassment between those 30 and younger and those 30 and older, men and women,” she said. “The younger group is much more serious and offended by it than the older group who tend to say, look, that’s what we’ve lived with. I mean, everybody has personal views, but there is a real divide.”
Contact the Special Projects Desk
This post was produced by the Special Projects Desk of Gizmodo Media. Reach our team by phone, text, Signal, or WhatsApp at (917) 999-6143, email us at email@example.com, or contact us securely using SecureDrop.
One New York Times reporter, who asked to not to be identified in order to speak freely about their workplace, says they heard a couple of surprising sentiments expressed at the paper: That McGann was either angry about not having a job at the Times, or else too slutty to be believed.
“I heard from people in the DC bureau that all the middle-aged white guys, the national security reporters, the people who see themselves as the traditionalists, were all talking about how Laura McGann is a big slut who’s doing this to advance her career,” the person tells Jezebel, paraphrasing what they’d heard. “Which was pointed out to them doesn’t make much sense. It didn’t seem to make a difference.”
The person adds, “For some of these guys—and it was mostly but not exclusively men—they believed their buddy Glenn was being wronged and wanted to defend him. But some of them did go further, to, ‘We need to air Laura McGann’s dirty laundry.’ I’m not sure if they knew they were making it up or convinced themselves it was true.”
Another story by Joe Pompeo, like Bumiller’s statement, depicted the schism at the paper over the Thrush allegations as a split between overly woke millennial employees hyper-conscious of political correctness and their older, more realistic coworkers.
“I always took exception to that,” the Times employee tell us, “because it felt like a way of writing off people who were saying we shouldn’t tar the victims of sexual assault or harassment publicly. It like a way of saying ‘These are sensitive millennials and we need to humor them, because we need to employ them, but we, the older experienced hands, know how it really is.’”
What got lost in the debate, the employee says, was that the “so-called ‘more woke’ crowd were saying that it wasn’t so much about if Glenn gets punished, but if there’s a process in place that would ensure a safe workplace for women.”
“This was all a conversation about what was supposed to happen to Glenn,” they add. “There was very little focus on, ‘Is this a safe work environment that communicates the appropriate values to the outside world?’”
Despite Wemple’s speculation that McGann would be “uncooperative” with the Times inquiry, McGann says she spoke to Times investigator Charlotte Behrendt on November 28. McGann says she also offered the names of three people she’d spoken to contemporaneously about the things she says Thrush did to her personally, all of whom were willing to talk to Behrendt.
“She never followed up with any of the three of them,” McGann says. (Behrendt declined to comment for this piece, referring questions to New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy.)
All three people confirmed to Jezebel that they’d been willing to talk to the Times but were never contacted. One emailed Behrendt himself and never heard back; he provided a copy of the email to us. Another, the podcast host and digital strategist Aminatou Sow, says, “I was more than willing to talk to the Times and I was very surprised that they didn’t contact me.”
Sow vividly remembered McGann sharing the story of Thrush’s alleged harassment at the time, and her own response. “There was such a sense of resignation,” she says. “There was so much powerlessness. We had nothing to tell our friend except, ‘I’m sorry this happened to you.’”
As the Times investigation wound on and rumors about her purportedly scandalous sex life kept filtering back to her, McGann made a drastic choice: she hired an attorney of her own.
“I decided to go the route of hiring a lawyer because I wanted it to stop,” she says. “I was concerned that these rumors were going to affect my career, my standing in the industry, and I thought the best course was to send them a cease and desist.”
She didn’t write about it.
“In that moment,” she says, “I saw myself as a private person who’d done her job and didn’t want an institution hurting my career. That’s the lens through which I looked at it. I decided not to chronicle the situation in real time as a journalistic endeavor.”
In a letter dated December 18, Julian C. Burns, McGann’s lawyer, wrote to the Times’s legal counsel that Times staffers had “embarked on a vicious campaign to discredit McGann by sharing false and malicious rumors within the Times and with reporters from other media outlets.” The letter adds:
Counsel for Thrush contacted Vox and advised them to look into McGann’s personal relationships while at Politico. Times reporters have asserted that McGann had multiple sexual relationships with Politico colleagues and that she engaged in sex acts in the Politico newsroom, among other things. These rumors are false. Nonetheless, they have been widely shared within the journalism industry, and colleagues have warned of a “scorched earth” campaign to discredit her.
Burns also accused Behrendt of engaging in the rumor-mongering herself, writing, “The Times’ internal investigation has encouraged this conduct by making McGann’s personal history a primary focus of inquiry. Charlotte Behrendt, who oversees the investigation, shared rumors similar to those circulated within the Times newsroom with a former colleague of McGann’s and others in the journalism industry.”
A day later, a Times attorney named David E. McCraw responded, calling the allegations entirely false, and calling the statements in Burns’ letter “misinformation.”
“It is telling,” he wrote, “that your letter fails to specify a single person or incident.” He also strongly denied that Behrendt, the Times lawyer, had personally spread the rumors. “Your letter maligns Ms. Behrendt without bothering to provide a single verifiable fact. Just to be clear, no one speaking on behalf of the Times has defamed McGann in any way.”
One day later, the investigation was over. In an internal conference call that was filmed for the Fourth Estate series, Baquet can be seen asking editors at the DC bureau by phone if they were comfortable with the choice to not fire Thrush, but rather to suspend and reassign him.
“Did Glenn do one of two things,” Baquet begins. “Did he hurt the brand of the New York Times? I think the answer to that was clearly yes. And secondly, were there people in the bureau who felt that Glenn did some things on occasion that made them uncomfortable?”
“I grew up in newsrooms where people said inappropriate things,” he said, “And people rolled their eyes at ’em. Almost every newsroom I’ve ever worked at, if I’m being honest, I would even have been one of the people who rolled my eyes at ’em. I think that that kind of behavior has got to end.”
“Then why wouldn’t you fire him?” an unidentified male reporter asks on the call.
Peter Baker, a White House reporter who was on the call, but who wasn’t the person speaking, said he watched the scene and didn’t think the person was advocating for Thrush to be fired.
“I don’t have a problem with the question, though,” he told us in an email. “Because I believe it was intended to try to clarify what the standards that were being set, not advocating for a particular outcome.”
On camera, Baquet doesn’t respond to the questioner directly. “What I say in the statement,” he replies, “is that we’re in a moment where there’s a huge debate over how to deal with this stuff, but that in my view these things have to be taken as individuals and individual circumstances, that there can’t be blanket rules and blanket punishments.”
He asks the people on the call, “How do you all feel about this decision?” Everyone who speaks assures him he made the right choice.
In response to an email, Baquet told Jezebel, “Sorry, I’m not going to be interviewed on this one.” In a subsequent email, responding to one of a list of questions we’d sent, he added: “I do want to say one thing. It is inaccurate to say I have not expressed zero tolerance for harassment or sympathy for people accused above their accusers.”
In another brief email, Baquet told Jezebel that he chose Thrush’s new beat—HUD and the social safety net—for him. When the Times announced their decision publicly, they also said Thrush would receive training “to improve his workplace conduct.” Baquet declined to tell Jezebel whether Thrush was undergoing or had completed that workplace training: “As for training, that’s a human resources issue that I can’t comment on. With apologies.”
Baquet hasn’t been as shy about discussing the Thrush affair elsewhere, telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, for example, that the Times showed true leadership in handling Thrush’s punishment.
“The easiest thing would be to say we did the big story, let’s fire him,” Baquet said. “But that’s not just. That’s not leadership. Leadership is you take an allegation, you examine it, and you try to match the crime, if you will, to the punishment. And that’s what we did in this case.”
“So what was the crime?” Amanpour inquired.
“The stuff we found that Glenn did while working at the New York Times involved comments that he shouldn’t have made,” Baquet responded. “There was a story in Vox that described other activities most in his previous life at other publications. But I had to focus my attention on my workplace, and I didn’t find that kind of activity in my workplace. I’m not raising questions about the Vox story. Far from it. It prompted this investigation.”
(Baquet’s statement isn’t factually accurate: One of the stories relayed was from June, four months before the Vox story was written, and very much while Thrush was employed at the Times.)
McGann says she herself doesn’t have a strong opinion about Thrush’s punishment.
“In the end, I’m not clear what he was being punished for,” she says, and her confusion makes sense: The wording of the Times statement was careful to the point of being non-specific. Was his punishment for misconduct? Verbal harassment? Embarrassing the Times? It’s unclear. What, exactly, was Thrush suspended for and what should Times reporters be careful to avoid in the future? (In early May, Metro Editor Wendell Jamieson resigned after an even more opaque internal investigation, in which he was reportedly accused of “inappropriate behavior” by three women working at the Times. There is such a lack of clarity about what that entailed that several Times employees asked me if perhaps I knew.)
“In the future,” McGann says, “I hope the Times thinks about what type of culture they are tolerating.”
Over the months since the Thrush controversy ended, there’s been a continued, bitter, protracted debate about how to deal with men whose behavior falls along the “continuum of creepy,” as Erik Wemple put it in his piece on the Thrush affair.
“I don’t get to decide [Thrush’s] punishment,” says Aminatou Sow, one of McGann’s friends who was willing to speak to the Times investigator. “And I don’t have an idea of what the punishment should be, because we don’t have good standards around this. But it does endlessly frustrate me—for my friend and myself and women in general—that we don’t say out loud, ‘This behavior is not OK.’ It seems to me that the behavior by which they’re judging these men is the Weinstein standard: If there weren’t multiple rapes and people ejaculating in flower pots, then I guess the women are fine.”
As my colleague Stassa Edwards wrote, it sometimes seems that every powerful man’s fall primes him for an immediate redemptive arc, the steps of downfall, apology and professional rebirth tightly, almost ritually choreographed. It’s unclear—at the Times or elsewhere—what kind of protective measures have actually been put in place to prevent the whole exhausting process from starting over yet again.
The whole experience, McGann says, was a surprise, and an unpleasant one, from the moment Vox received the letter from Thrush’s lawyer.
“We agreed to interpret it as a threat,” she says, referring to herself, her editors, and the publication’s attorneys. “If we published this story, my sex life, real or imagined, was going to be on the table. So we had to make a decision about whether to publish or not, based on that. And I said ‘Let’s hit the button.’”
The New York Times sent us the following statement in response to a detailed list of questions:
“As a result of the allegations in the Vox story, we suspended Glenn and began a thorough investigation. That investigation included more than 30 interviews with current and former colleagues of Glenn’s both inside and outside of The Times. It was rigorous and meticulous. The results of the investigation were deliberated over by a diverse group of 10 senior editors. They determined that Glenn’s conduct violated our standards. Based on the findings of this investigation, he was suspended for two months and had a change of assignment upon his return.
The New York Times Company is deeply committed to maintaining a safe workplace for all. Every complaint about our culture, or about harassment of any kind - to include the spreading of rumors about reporters working on stories, or anyone else - is taken very seriously.
We have a zero tolerance policy for any type of sexual or other workplace harassment and this fact has been communicated repeatedly and clearly in multiple forums to our employees.”