NYT Retains Glenn Thrush Despite Him Following a Female Intern into Another State

Glenn Thrush, a powerful White House reporter, was given only a two month suspension after credible allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk testified against Thrush as part of the New York Times' investigation into Thrush's sexual misconduct.

As someone who presented testimony and spoke with the New York Times General Counsel Office as part of their investigation, I want to state how outraged I am that top New York Times White House reporter Glenn Thrush was given a mere two month suspension and afterwards will be allowed to return to work on other less high profile beats as he undergoes counseling for alcoholism and workplace behavior. 

It should be noted that, in my opinion, the New York Times is keeping Thrush only after a public affairs campaign waged by reporters in the DC Bureau, who did not want to lose Thrush’s deep pool of sources. 

Glenn is an access journalist, who has spent his entire career cozying up to power rather than challenging it and has moved up the ladder based on his ability to do favors within “good old boy” networks.

It should be noted that the News Guild did not defend Thrush and would not publicly defend someone like him because his behavior violates basic tenets of respect and solidarity.

In addition to being accused of groping Vox Editor Laura McGann, Thrush followed a drunk 23-year-old intern on foot nearly a mile over the Key Bridge, across the river into D.C. while she frantically texted a friend asking for help. Then, he made her cry after she resisted his advances.

The Key Bridge is an enormous bridge that links Virginia and D.C., as any of us, who worked with Glenn at Politico know. Following a woman across a bridge that long, to the point where she cried for him to get away, constitutes predatory behavior.

At Politico, I sat two seats away from Glenn and was assigned to work with him and Maggie Haberman on stories about labor’s various roles in the 2016 election. Thrush had me set up lunches with CWA President Larry Cohen and Steve Early, and frequently consulted me on all questions dealing with labor and politics.

During this period, I got to know Glenn and was appalled by the “locker room talk” he made when out with co-workers. On one occasion at a union reception in December 2014, I watched Thrush publicly make sexual comments about a female union aide in front of a group of three reporters, talking at length about the people she used to “bone”.  

I watched him make sexual comments in front of other reporters about another young female reporter.

More hypocritically, I heard Glenn justify the firing of a black reporter he believed had crossed the line.

In 2012, Politico fired African-American reporter Joe Williams after he said that Romney struggled to connect with Latino voters because Romney felt more comfortable with white audiences.

At the time, Williams remarked, in a segment on MSNBC about the Romneys, that they “were white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”

Politico responded to his comments and the public uproar they caused by first suspending, and ultimately firing, Williams.

When I asked Glenn about the incident in 2014, he told me that he thought Williams had crossed the line when he started wearing a hoodie on TV to show his solidarity with Trayvon Martin.

Yes, Thrush once told me a black man should be fired for wearing a hoodie to show his support for Trayvon Martin. Now Glenn is getting away with predatory behavior because he’s always been on the side of the “good old boys”.

Vanity Fair columnist Joe Pompeo, a former newsroom buddy of Thrush, who previously wrote puff pieces about Thrush’s rise to the top of NYT,  repeatedly quoted anonymous reporters at the New York Times saying that Thrush shouldn’t be fired. Six different reporters in the NYT bureau told Pompeo he shouldn’t be fired. The public campaign by Thrush’s co-workers allowed the New York Times to justify keeping him and giving him a slap on the wrist with a mere two-month suspension.

Thrush’s allies used Vanity Fair to smear Laura McGann, the Vox editor who accused Thrush of groping her. Laura wrote her expose in the first person at Vox and covered other sexual misconduct by Glenn.

Glenn denied the incident.

Then, Thrush’s allies in Vanity Fair bashed her and said it was wrong for her to write her story in the first person.

When I was fired in 2015 for union organizing at Politico and a won a year’s salary as a settlement, Thrush went around to various reporters and told them that I had been kept out of the newsroom because my struggle with PTSD had debilitated me. Thrush repeatedly mocked my struggle with PTSD despite the fact that he had never covered a war — unlike I had done covering the drug war in Brasil.

Glenn never needed to cover a war to advance in journalism because he sucked up to the right people in Long Island politics and then did the same to reach the White House. I worked with Glenn Thrush, and he has never challenged the powerful; he relies on them too much. 

I watched Glenn smear Joe Williams, I watched Glenn smear me, and know I have seen Glenn Thrush publicly discredit my former colleagues. So should it surprise anyone that Glenn Thrush is getting away with chasing a 23-year-old woman across a bridge until she cried?

Nope. Glenn Thrush is one of the best access journalists who ever lived and the corrupt and powerful will always protect each other.

 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is a member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild and is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report. He previously served as senior labor reporter at POLITICO and has written for the New York Times. He also writes for The Guardian.

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