Thursday, January 18, 2018

L.A. Times Publisher Ross Levinsohn Accused of Sexual Improprieties

Well, I've been reading the Los Angeles Times for over thirty years, almost on a daily basis. I had a subscription to the paper when I lived in both Fresno and Santa Barbara, and of course since 2,000 and working at Long Beach City College. Reading the paper becomes just part of your life. I know it's a left-wing paper, but you fight the ideological culture war with and against the media you have. And it's war, that's for sure.

In any case, sometimes I wonder how much longer LAT's going to hold out as a viable concern. There's a unionization effort going on right now, with the results of the vote to unionize going public tomorrow. And according to Business Insider, the Times is looking to go with some sort of "contributor" publishing model, offering the pages of the paper (at least online, I guess) as a platform for writers and commentators.

On top of all that the new publisher, Ross Levinsohn, is now the subject of sexual harassment allegations. That can't be good, man.

At NPR (where else?), "Accusations of 'Frat House' Behavior Trail 'LA Times' Publisher's Career" (via Memeorandum):

The Los Angeles Times has given prominent coverage to recent revelations of sexual harassment of women by prominent men, particularly in entertainment and media. Yet a review by NPR finds that the newspaper's own CEO and publisher, Ross Levinsohn, has been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and that his conduct in work settings over the past two decades has been called into question repeatedly by female colleagues.

This story is based on a review of court documents, financial filings and fresh interviews with 26 former colleagues and associates. Taken in concert, they suggest a pattern of questionable behavior and questionable decisions on the job. The portrait that repeatedly emerges is one of a frat-boy executive, catapulting ever higher, even as he creates corporate climates that alienated some of the people who worked for and with him.

Among the accusations:

— Levinsohn was sued in separate sexual harassment lawsuits as an executive at two different corporations. By his own sworn testimony, Levinsohn admitted to rating the relative "hotness" of his female colleagues in office banter as a vice president at a digital media company. He also testified that he speculated about whether a woman who worked for him there was a stripper on the side.

— Two witnesses say they were shocked to see Levinsohn aggressively kissing and pressing himself against a woman at a glitzy music industry dinner in plain view of his subordinates and his clients. Levinsohn was married at the time.

— Levinsohn once told an executive for the Hollywood Reporter he would not stay at the publication's lunch honoring the entertainment business' most influential fashion stylists because he would have to be surrounded by gays — using a vulgar epithet for them, according to the executive.

Almost all people interviewed declined to be quoted by name, citing concerns for their careers given Levinsohn's current perch atop the Los Angeles Times. It is one of the most important newspapers in the country and it is the most influential media organization in California, the capital to the world's entertainment industry. His behavior, as described by those who worked with him, raises questions about how effectively he can lead the paper as it covers the #MeToo movement and such widespread harassment revelations.

Levinsohn did not respond on the record to detailed questions emailed to him and a Times spokeswoman setting out the chief allegations raised in this story. In a telephone call he initiated Wednesday with NPR's CEO, Jarl Mohn, Levinsohn called those allegations "lies" and said he would retain legal counsel if he felt NPR had disparaged him. NPR sent detailed questions to Tronc's chief executive and public affairs staffers early Wednesday morning. The crisis management strategist Charles Sipkins issued a statement on Tronc's behalf Thursday afternoon saying Levinsohn had been placed under investigation by the corporation after the story was posted.

"This week, we became aware of allegations that Ross Levinsohn acted inappropriately. We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what's occurred," the statement read. "At Tronc, we expect all employees to act in a way that supports a culture of diversity and inclusion. We will take appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of these expectations."

Sipkins said Tronc had not suspended Levinsohn...
Threatening legal action didn't seem to help some of the earlier targets of the #MeToo recrimination ("reckoning") campaign, so I doubt it's going to help this guy.

Whatever. (*Shrugs.*)

More at the link.