The sexual harassment ax falls on top political reporter Ryan Lizza

One of the top political reporters in the country, Ryan Lizza, has been fired by The New Yorker over a sexual misconduct claim.

Scant details of what transpired are available, but the charge stems from a relationship Lizza had with an unnamed woman.

Lizza denies the allegations.

Politico:

"The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further."

In a statement, Lizza said the magazine made "a terrible mistake" and rejected its characterization of his relationship.

"I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate," he said. "The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated. I am sorry to my friends, workplace colleagues, and loved ones for any embarrassment this episode may cause. I love The New Yorker, my home for the last decade, and I have the highest regard for the people who work there. But this decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake."

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney representing the unnamed woman who accused Lizza of misconduct, disputed that characterization.

"Although she desires to remain confidential and requests that her privacy be respected, in no way did Mr. Lizza's misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it," read a statement from Wigdor, whose firm is perhaps best known for representing clients alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination at Fox News. "Our client reported Mr. Lizza's actions to ensure that he would be held accountable and in the hope that by coming forward she would help other potential victims."

Editor Lifson yesterday nailed the danger we are in:

The careers of men are being destroyed on the basis of accusations alone, so of course we worry.  While there is no ambiguity over Weinstein-like criminal behavior, there is a spectrum of behavior that women can find objectionable, and at the other of the scale from Weinstein, there is a lot of potential for career-ending misunderstanding.  For all we know, a greeting like "Good morning!  That's a lovely outfit" could be the basis of a complaint to H.R.  

In Lizza's case, he was apparently in a sexual relationship of some kind with the unnamed woman.  Because the woman can remain anonymous, and the specific charges against Lizza can remain unreported. all we have to go on is a vague statement from the New Yorker and Lizza's denial.

Dare I broach the possibility that the woman was jilted by Lizza and the accusations are payback?

I can't say that in "mixed company" – by which I mean normal people and sexual harassment crusaders.  For many who are leading the charge against harassment in the workplace – including many lawyers who stand to make a bundle pressing these cases – the woman is always right, always telling the truth, and doesn't misunderstand anything a man might say or do.

But in Lizza's case, the smoke may well be an indication of fire.  The reporter's name appeared on a list of more than 70 men in media who were being accused of everything from harrassment to rape.

"[S-----] Media Men," was never intended for publication and was shut down after BuzzFeed reported on its existence on Oct. 12 and noted that some of the accused hail from organizations such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Mother Jones and even BuzzFeed.

Journalists have been sharing screenshots of the list for nearly two weeks, but news organizations have remained understandably skittish about amplifying the claims without substantiation. It's rare that news organizations can still act as a gatekeeper for information given the ability for emerging media players, perhaps less bound to traditional newsroom standards, to publish at will.

The accusation that got Lizza fired may not be the only skeleton in his closet.  But that has nothing to do with the concerns about where all of this is going.  A man a lot less prominent than Lizza may be caught up in the national dragnet over something he believed was innocent or perhaps even consensual.  But women – for the moment – enjoy immunity from being accused of lying or just getting their signals crossed with a coworker.

We haven't reached the point of a backlash – yet.  But the genuine cases of harassment and assault and abuse will be radically affected the first time it can be proved beyond doubt that the woman's accusations are for vindictive reasons and not based on reality.

One of the top political reporters in the country, Ryan Lizza, has been fired by The New Yorker over a sexual misconduct claim.

Scant details of what transpired are available, but the charge stems from a relationship Lizza had with an unnamed woman.

Lizza denies the allegations.

Politico:

"The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further."

In a statement, Lizza said the magazine made "a terrible mistake" and rejected its characterization of his relationship.

"I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate," he said. "The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated. I am sorry to my friends, workplace colleagues, and loved ones for any embarrassment this episode may cause. I love The New Yorker, my home for the last decade, and I have the highest regard for the people who work there. But this decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake."

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney representing the unnamed woman who accused Lizza of misconduct, disputed that characterization.

"Although she desires to remain confidential and requests that her privacy be respected, in no way did Mr. Lizza's misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it," read a statement from Wigdor, whose firm is perhaps best known for representing clients alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination at Fox News. "Our client reported Mr. Lizza's actions to ensure that he would be held accountable and in the hope that by coming forward she would help other potential victims."

Editor Lifson yesterday nailed the danger we are in:

The careers of men are being destroyed on the basis of accusations alone, so of course we worry.  While there is no ambiguity over Weinstein-like criminal behavior, there is a spectrum of behavior that women can find objectionable, and at the other of the scale from Weinstein, there is a lot of potential for career-ending misunderstanding.  For all we know, a greeting like "Good morning!  That's a lovely outfit" could be the basis of a complaint to H.R.  

In Lizza's case, he was apparently in a sexual relationship of some kind with the unnamed woman.  Because the woman can remain anonymous, and the specific charges against Lizza can remain unreported. all we have to go on is a vague statement from the New Yorker and Lizza's denial.

Dare I broach the possibility that the woman was jilted by Lizza and the accusations are payback?

I can't say that in "mixed company" – by which I mean normal people and sexual harassment crusaders.  For many who are leading the charge against harassment in the workplace – including many lawyers who stand to make a bundle pressing these cases – the woman is always right, always telling the truth, and doesn't misunderstand anything a man might say or do.

But in Lizza's case, the smoke may well be an indication of fire.  The reporter's name appeared on a list of more than 70 men in media who were being accused of everything from harrassment to rape.

"[S-----] Media Men," was never intended for publication and was shut down after BuzzFeed reported on its existence on Oct. 12 and noted that some of the accused hail from organizations such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Mother Jones and even BuzzFeed.

Journalists have been sharing screenshots of the list for nearly two weeks, but news organizations have remained understandably skittish about amplifying the claims without substantiation. It's rare that news organizations can still act as a gatekeeper for information given the ability for emerging media players, perhaps less bound to traditional newsroom standards, to publish at will.

The accusation that got Lizza fired may not be the only skeleton in his closet.  But that has nothing to do with the concerns about where all of this is going.  A man a lot less prominent than Lizza may be caught up in the national dragnet over something he believed was innocent or perhaps even consensual.  But women – for the moment – enjoy immunity from being accused of lying or just getting their signals crossed with a coworker.

We haven't reached the point of a backlash – yet.  But the genuine cases of harassment and assault and abuse will be radically affected the first time it can be proved beyond doubt that the woman's accusations are for vindictive reasons and not based on reality.