Vox: NYT’s Thrush Suspended Amid Investigation of Inappropriate Sexual Advances [UPDATED]

November 20th, 2017 12:06 PM

UPDATE, 1:00 p.m. Eastern: The Hill’s Joe Concha reached MSNBC for comment concerning political analyst Glenn Thrush’s suspension from The New York Times amid the Vox allegations of unwanted sexual behavior and, needless to say, they won’t be receiving a profile in courage award. 

Concha reported that an MSNBC statement read, in part, to him that the network will be “awaiting the outcome of the Times’ investigation” seeing as how “[h]e currently has no scheduled appearances.”

With that said, one has to wonder what the men and women of MSNBC think about such a decision. Of course, this is the same network that sought to quash the Harvey Weinstein bombshells and had to address sexual assault claims by now-terminated political analyst Mark Halperin.


On Monday morning, Vox.com published an extensive, heartbreaking, and upsetting story revealing four women have come forward to Laura McGann about unwanted sexual encounters with New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush that’s now resulted in his suspension from the newspaper.

McGann detailed experiences (including her own with Thrush) that largely revolved around trips to a bar near Politico (where Thrush worked until earlier this year) and ended with Thrush attempting to kiss and fondle women who were in their 20's. One such incident ended with the woman back with Thrush at her apartment and not “hav[ing] much clothes on.”

She began the piece by noting how Thrush, who’s a married man, penned “an impassioned note” about women in journalism following the allegations against Mark Halperin. The Vox writer revealed how “some Washington journalists I spoke to say it rings hollow, given Thrush’s own behavior with young women in the industry.” 

McGann provided screen caps from the aftermath of one incident in which the friend of one woman confronted Thrush: 

Thrush and the young woman met at her colleague’s going-away party at a bar near the Politico newsroom, she told me, and shared a few rounds of drinks in a booth. The night, she said, ended on a Washington street corner, where Thrush left her in tears after she resisted his advances.

The encounter was troubling enough to the woman that her friend Bianca Padró Ocasio, also 23 and a journalist, confronted Thrush about his behavior via text message the next day.

“I want to make sure you don’t lure young women aspiring journalists into those situations ever again,” she texted. “So help me out here. How can I do that?”

Thrush was apologetic but defensive.

“I don’t lure anybody ever,” he wrote, according to screenshots provided by Padró Ocasio. “I got drunk because I got some shitty health news. And I am acutely aware of the hurdles that young women face in this business and have spent the better part of 20 years advocating for women journalists.”

In part, Thrush told McGann that he “apologize[s] to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately.” That being said, McGann emphasized: 

If Thrush is acutely aware of what young women face in the business of political journalism, he should also know it’s because he himself is one of the problems women face. Five years ago, when Thrush and I were colleagues at Politico, I was in the same bar as Padró Ocasio’s friend — perhaps the same booth — when he caught me off guard, put his hand on my thigh, and suddenly started kissing me. Thrush says that he recalls the incident differently.

Three young women I interviewed, including the young woman who met Thrush in June, described to me a range of similar experiences, 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. I was — and am — angry.

Details of their stories suggest a pattern. All of the women were in their 20s at the time. They were relatively early in their careers compared to Thrush, who was the kind of seasoned journalist who would be good to know. At an event with alcohol, he made advances. Afterward, they (as I did) thought it best to stay on good terms with Thrush, whatever their feelings.

McGann made the caveat that she’s seen nothing about Thrush “offering woman a quid pro quo deal, such as sex in exchange for mentorship,” but her own experience showed that Thrush’s penchant for spreading gossip would be used to harm the reputations of those who denied his advances. 

One of the more striking portions of the piece came later when McGann detailed how Thrush’s piggish behavior was somewhat of an open secret: 

A 21-year-old woman arrived in Washington last year to intern in a journalism organization. She heard from people who don’t even work with Thrush to be careful. An employee at the Washington Post told her about him when she first arrived. A few months later, she says, a reporter at Roll Call warned her about him, too. She passed on the intel to four other female interns.

Multiple young women journalists I spoke to said that they’d heard serious warnings about Thrush from friends. The word among women just starting in Washington, they said, is to be careful if you meet him at an event with alcohol, or if he sends you a direct message on Twitter. (Thrush suspended his Twitter account in September, saying it was too much of a distraction.)

There’s something endearing and inspiring about interns who self-organized to guard themselves and each other against advances offered under guise of praise and professional advice — but there’s also something sad about a world in which the savvy move is to teach a young woman not to trust an older man who has something nice to say about her work.

Thrush told McGann that one incident in June prompted him to stop drinking, claiming to halt what she explained was a “toxic environment” Thrush had cultivated inside Politico.

Going forward, Times senior vice president of communications Eileen Murphy stated that “[t]he 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.” She added that Thrush “will be suspended,” revealing that he’s decided “to enter a substance abuse program.”

Along with being spoofed on Saturday Night Live by Bobby Moynihan, the 2016 WikiLeaks hack revealed Thrush to be a self-described “hack” for the Clinton campaign in e-mails with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. 

Just last week, Thrush appeared on MSNBC as an MSNBC political analyst to discuss Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore’s own sickening allegations of unwanted sexual behavior, though Moore’s have centered around some involving underage girls.