It had been a remarkable year for Glenn Thrush. One of the breakout reporters chronicling the 2016 election for Politico, he ascended last December to the White House beat for the New York Times, and later, an MSNBC contract. His vivid accounts of West Wing intrigue had earned him and his frequent co-writer Maggie Haberman a plum book deal. His rising visibility in the White House press room even merited a caricature on “Saturday Night Live.”
And then, Thrush was suspended by the Times on Monday – the latest in a series of influential men hit by allegations of sexual misconduct.
Earlier that day, the news site Vox published a story accusing Thrush, 50, of having a “history of bad judgment around young women journalists.” In the article, three women said Thrush had made unwanted contact or advances toward them. One of them was the story’s author herself, Laura McGann, who wrote that Thrush, after a night of drinking with colleagues, put his hand on her thigh and tried kissing her against her wishes. McGann wrote that she interviewed 40 people “in and around media who know Thrush,” and painted the portrait of a powerful media figure who often crossed the line with female reporters in their early 20s.
“The alleged behavior is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times,” Eileen Murphy, the senior vice president of communications for the Times, wrote in a statement confirming Thrush had been suspended pending an investigation. She added that he has entered treatment for substance abuse.
On Facebook, Thrush posted a statement in which he called McGann’s recollection into question, saying anything that happened that night was “consensual, brief, and ended by me.” And yet: “I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately,” Thrush wrote. “Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable.”
Thrush’s suspension came as the media and political establishments have been shaken by a series of new and resurfaced allegations about sexual misconduct, starting early last month with claims about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and later implicating figures such as actors Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor, journalists Mark Halperin and Michael Oreskes, Sen. Al Franken, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and comedian Louis C.K.
Later on Monday, The Washington Post reported that several former employees of CBS journalist Charlie Rose said he sexually harassed them.
The national discussion of these issues has also put a spotlight back on President Donald Trump, who last year as a candidate faced allegations of harassment and physical aggression from several women, as well as the sexual indiscretions of former president Bill Clinton.
Thrush first jumped onto the national scene as a reporter for Newsday, covering Hillary Clinton’s first presidential candidacy. He then spent eight years at Politico, becoming one of the paper’s most senior and versatile journalists, at times working as a long-form magazine writer, a scoop generator and a podcast host.
It was there, as a well-connected reporter and powerful presence in the newsroom, that McGann and others in her article say Thrush abused his position. In addition to McGann’s own account, she includes the story of an unnamed 23-year-old who said Thrush presented himself as a sort of mentor figure, and then aggressively came on to her in a bar after a colleague’s going-away party.
In Thrush’s Facebook statement, he doesn’t admit to any particular wrongdoing but said: “Over the past several years, I have responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily,” and that “during that period, I have done things I am ashamed of, actions that have brought great hurt to my family and friends.”
MSNBC said it was waiting for the “outcome of the Times investigation,” and officials at Random House, which is publishing the Thrush-Haberman book, said that they were “looking at it closely and seriously.”
It has been less than two months since Thrush’s own paper published its explosive report on Weinstein. Since then, the Times website has kept a rolling list of the growing number of men accused of sexual misconduct. By late Monday morning Thrush’s name was atop the list.