He’s not the biggest casualty of the Pervnado — he’s not even the biggest casualty today! — but I’m interested in this one because his account of what he did has created a genuine mystery of what could have been improper.
If you can’t place Lizza immediately by his name, he’s the guy who coaxed Anthony Scaramucci into a profane interview tearing into Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon a few days after he was named White House communications director. Scaramucci was gone four days after it was published. He was the New Yorker’s star political correspondent, author of many long-form profiles of Washington players, and a contributor on CNN. Not someone whom the New Yorker would part with lightly, in other words. But here we are.
“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.”…
“I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate,” [Lizza] 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.”
What sort of respectful consensual relationship would, in and of itself, constitute “improper sexual conduct” warranting firing? The only circumstances I can think of would be if his girlfriend were underaged or, more likely, if she were a subordinate. But (a) I’m not sure Lizza had subordinates. He was a correspondent, not an editor. Maybe the woman was a researcher for him, or an intern? And (b) even if he were dating a subordinate and the magazine was bothered by that, presumably that wouldn’t be a firing offense — or not initially. Maybe he was warned to break it off, since the magazine that just broke the big Weinstein story wouldn’t want to be known as a place where a big cheese dates women staffers, and refused.
Or maybe Lizza’s lying through his teeth about a “respectful relationship”?
Wigdor says firm is representing Lizza accuser: "In no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it" pic.twitter.com/5QP0JLUwqT
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 11, 2017
Why would he claim the relationship was on the up-and-up knowing that details of what he’s accused of are bound to leak? The mere fact that there’s a “victim” makes Lizza’s statement almost impossible to believe. It’d be one thing if New Yorker management had discovered independently that he was dating a subordinate and imposed some zero-tolerance rule requiring his termination. But if a woman came to them and complained — and hired Doug Wigdor’s firm to represent her — paint me a picture in which there’s some “respectful” dynamic between him and her.
Incidentally, Mark Hemingway made an interesting catch. Here’s Anthony Scaramucci chatting during an interview just one week ago:
“This guy’s obviously a very bad actor,” Scaramucci said of Lizza. “Karma’s a bitch. It’ll come back and bite him. You’ll see.
“You’re a transactional guy,” Scaramucci added. “And you’re gonna have a transactional, miserable life.”
Did Scaramucci take revenge by somehow bringing whatever it is Lizza’s accused of to the attention of New Yorker management?
By the way, Politico notes that Lizza was mentioned in the list of “Sh*tty Media Men” that’s been circulating among journalists since the Weinstein story broke. At least three others mentioned in it have lost their jobs recently due to allegations of misconduct. Imagine being on the list and wondering if you’re next.