In a lengthy exposé that included both personal and several other women's experiences with star reporter Glenn Thrush, Vox editorial director Laura McGann has accused The New York Times reporter of sexual misconduct. In response, the publication, whose reporting on Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. has sparked the national conversation on sexual harassment, has suspended him.
Thrush is one of the Times' top reporters covering the Trump administration. He also recently landed a major book deal with Random House to write about the West Wing with Maggie Haberman.
In her piece, McGann accuses Thrush, who has presented himself as a supporter of young women in journalism, of using a cloak of feminism to take advantage of the very reporters he has claimed to protect. She says she met Thrush and other colleagues at a bar when they both worked at Politico. There, after the others had left, he grabbed her and starting kissing her without consent, she alleges.
"Thrush tossed a $20 bill at [the one other remaining woman] and told her to take a cab and leave us,'the grown-ups,' alone. He slid into my side of the booth, blocking me in," McGann wrote. "I was wearing a skirt, and he put his hand on my thigh. He started kissing me. I pulled myself together and got out of there, shoving him on my way out."
Three other women McGann interviewed had similar experiences of unexpected, unwanted groping and kissing. Several of the accounts involved alcohol.
All of the accusers report being in their 20s and at the dawn of their careers, when Thrush's influence in the industry was particularly precious, at the time of each incident.
Although Thrush is not accused of exchanging professional opportunities for sexual favors, McGann and others have alleged that not accepting his advances was met with him slandering them. She said men in the newsroom began to treat her differently and made crude remarks after the event. Recently, a male reporter who worked at Politico confirmed her concerns that Thrush had spread career-crippling sexual rumors about her.
"He said that the day after that night at the bar, Thrush told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed. I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down," she wrote.
But McGann's source said Thrush had told the same story about other women, having accused a number of attractive women in their early 20s of making sexual advances towards him to other men in their industry.
“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,” Thrush said in an emailed statement, in response to the accusations on Sunday. “The encounter was consensual, brief and ended by me,” he said of McGann's account. “She was an editor above me at the time and I did not disparage her to colleagues at Politico as she claims.”
Another journalist reports ordering an Uber to avoid Thrush's sexual advances after they were drinking together in June at the same bar where McGann met with him five years ago. The second time he kissed her against her wishes, she began to cry. He sent her an email apology the next day. “I hate feeling obligated to make him think I think everything is fine,” she said. “It’s been this thing hanging over me. I feel like I have to be nice to this person just because he knows people.”
In his email, Thrush admitted to the June incident, saying the event caused him to seek treatment for alcoholism:
The June incident 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.
"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,” Eileen Murphy, senior vice president of communications for the Times, told Vox in a written statement. “We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended. We support his decision to enter a substance abuse program. In the meantime, we will not be commenting further.”