Accuracy in Media

Glenn Thrush, the New York Times writer who became a political punchline during the 2016 campaign for his ethical reporting lapses, has been accused of sexual harassment.

Thrush, who moved to the Times from Politico in December, was accused of trading on a mentor relationship with younger female colleagues to push for sexual contact, Vox reported.

This despite presenting himself as an ally of young reporters, particularly women, trying to break through in the business.

Just last week, Thrush had remarked on a post about Mark Halperin, another prominent journalist who has been suspended pending sexual harassment allegations, that “Young people who come into a newsroom deserve to be taught our trade, given our support and enlisted in our calling – not betrayed by little men who believe they are bigger than the mission.”

According to Laura McGann, who worked with Thrush at Politico, he is one of those little men. McGann wrote on Vox Monday that five years ago, in a Virginia bar where Politico reporters hung out, Thrush kissed her and placed his hand on her thigh in a bar after telling the person who was with her to leave.

McGann said she became angry after the incident and grew even more angry when she heard Thrush was blaming her for the incident. Thrush said Monday his encounter with McGann was “brief, consensual and ended by me” and denied he spread stories about her.

He did apologize for an incident with another woman, who was not mentioned in the Vox story, saying he was “deeply sorry” for an incident that occurred last June, when he began kissing her on the street outside a bar. He called the incident “life-changing” and said he has not had alcohol since.

The New York Times suspended Thrush on Monday following the report, and Thrush reportedly told the paper he plans to enter a substance abuse program. The Fox article quoted an email from Thrush saying he soon will begin an outpatient alcohol treatment program. All four of the incidents in the Vox article involved alcohol.

The story describes three other incidents when Thrush made unwanted advances toward women. It described incidents that ranged from unwanted groping and kissing to “wet kisses out of nowhere to hazy sexual encounters that played out under the influence of alcohol. Each woman described feeling differently about these experiences: scared, violated, ashamed, weirded out.”

Three weeks before the 2016 election, Thrush was outed in Wikileaks emails for colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign on stories. In an exchange with John Podesta, then Hillary’s campaign manager, Thrush sent several paragraphs of a story about her fundraising along with a note that read: “Because I have become a hack, I will send u the whole section that pertains to u.”

He asked Podesta not to “share or tell anyone I did this and asked him to “tell me if I f—ed up anything.”

Podesta signed off on the article, which ran May 1. Anna Palmer and Ken Vogel, who had their own ethical challenges during the campaign and since, co-authored the piece with Podesta.

Callum Borchers of the Washington Post wrote that the problem with Thrush and Charlie Rose being accused of sexual harassment in this way is that it undercuts trust in everything they produce.

“It is worth noting a negative side effect of the allegations against, Thrush and other prominent media figures … the notion that these men successfully misled many colleagues and the public about their true natures feeds the ‘fake news’ narrative pushed by President Trump, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and others.

“If they were fake in the way they presented themselves, the reasoning goes, maybe they were fake in their reporting, too. Maybe lots of reporting is fake.”

Borchers pointed to a passage in McGann’s report in which many of the more 40 people she interviewed for the story told her Thrush is a “bullsh—ter.”

“Great,” Borchers wrote. “’A bullsh—er.’ That certainly doesn’t help rebut claims by media detractors that many press accounts are, essentially, bullsh—t.”

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