“I wouldn’t call it an ‘open secret,’ it was just the way he was,” one former female TNR staffer told me. “Open secret implies that anybody else in management understood it was shameful and shouldn’t be done, which was definitely not the case… It was a culture there, there were a lot of other problems. There’s a reason why someone like Leon has lasted as long as he has at a place like the New Republic—that doesn’t happen by accident.”
The women I spoke with all requested anonymity to speak candidly about Wieseltier and the New Republic. Their stories range from disturbing to depressingly familiar: Wieseltier kissed his female employees on the mouth and forehead; he made sexual comments in the workplace and would brag about his sexual exploits; he would often comment inappropriately on what women were wearing.
“I went to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and I was wearing a low cut dress and Leon commented on my breasts,” one former TNR staffer told Splinter. Another former staffer recalled that it was common to hear “comments about how you looked, being told that you had a good body. There were comments that your significant other was a lucky man in a winky way. I don’t have a good memory of the exact things that he said, partially because it happened so frequently that I didn’t take note of it. It stopped being shocking.”