Precisely who, of the men who’ve committed these sorts of offenses, is deserving of a chance at redemption, is a question no one has yet answered—it’s a line that hasn’t been drawn. And given the Times’s importance in the story, Thrush’s situation is liable to be a test case.
Among the multiple current and former Times employees I spoke with—including men and women, managers and subordinates—people were wrestling with whether the allegations against Thrush warranted his termination—a question perhaps complicated by the fact that most of the events occurred prior to his hiring, and did not involve any Times colleagues. For some, Thrush’s misdeeds were not of the same magnitude as those of, say, Halperin, a powerful political journalist who lost his TV gig and book deal after CNN exposed accusations of “pressing an erection against [women’s] bodies while he was clothed,” or Rose, a broadcast legend who was fired from CBS on Tuesday in the wake of a Washington Post report, and subsequent pieces from other outlets, alleging lewd and inappropriate behavior with young women who worked for him. “The Vox piece,” a male employee of the Times’ Washington bureau told me, “it was obviously a damning piece; I don’t think anyone would say it wasn’t. But it was also a piece that, like a lot of these things, lived in some gray areas. It’s not an easy call.“ Others agreed with the amorphousness. “To me,” said another one of my Times sources, a woman, “it makes a difference that [Thrush] wasn’t the boss or supervisor. That mitigates the degree of seriousness.” This person also said that high-level Times figures are “torn” about whether Thrush should keep his job. A third Times source said: “I honestly don’t think anyone in leadership feels like they can make a judgment until they understand, more fully, exactly what the behavior was.”