Media government Ross Levinsohn speaks for the primary time a couple of #MeToo exposé, says it 'weaponized' the motion in opposition to him

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Ross Levinsohn

  • Former Los Angeles Occasions CEO and writer Ross Levinsohn spoke for the primary time a couple of 2018 NPR article that included stories of inappropriate office feedback.
  • In a Q&A with Enterprise Insider, he denied having used a homophobic slur and mentioned he did not keep in mind having mentioned in a deposition that he’d made two separate feedback at work about girls.
  • There have been, nonetheless, some inconsistencies between Levinsohn’s model of occasions and people of his associates, and they didn’t have proof to substantiate all their positions.

On January 17, Ross Levinsohn left Tribune Publishing, the place he had been CEO of its digital arm. The little-noted transfer capped his year-and-a-half-long stint on the firm.

Tribune has been on the middle of a number of the greatest tendencies in media, together with the decline of conventional information shops, the media-buying spree by billionaires, and the consolidation by corporations looking for scale.

However these tendencies weren’t the one components that formed Levinsohn’s profession there, first as CEO and writer of one of many US’s most influential media shops, the Los Angeles Occasions, which Tribune bought to the LA-based healthcare tycoon Patrick Quickly-Shiong a yr earlier.

5 months into his time main the paper, Levinsohn was the topic of an article by NPR January 2018. Headlined “Accusations of Frat Home Habits Path LA Occasions Writer’s Profession,” the article reviewed Levinsohn’s work report over 20 years, suggesting a sample of questionable conduct by him towards girls.

The story reported that Levinsohn had been named a defendant in two sexual-harassment claims stemming from stints he had on the ’90s-era search engine Alta Vista and Fox Interactive Media. It reported accusations that Levinsohn had used homophobic language and made sexist feedback, together with ranking the “hotness” of feminine colleagues.

Response was swift. The day after the NPR story revealed, Levinsohn was placed on unpaid go away. The Occasions’ newsroom union referred to as for Levinsohn’s removing. Tribune Publishing launched an investigation of his previous conduct.

Levinsohn ultimately landed on his toes. Tribune cleared him of the accusations of inappropriate conduct described within the NPR story. After promoting the LA Occasions to Quickly-Shiong in February 2018, Tribune introduced again Levinsohn as chief government of Tribune’s digital arm. The courtroom instances settled with no sexual-harassment findings in opposition to Levinsohn.

Now that he is left Tribune Publishing, Levinsohn agreed with converse on the report for the primary time because the NPR story was posted greater than a yr in the past.

  • In our interview, he assaults NPR as being biased and committing “character assassination” of him by misusing the #MeToo motion and publishing inaccuracies and half-truths.
  • “It was a personality assassination utilizing the societally vital #MeToo motion,” he mentioned.
  • He defended himself in opposition to allegations within the article, denying that he used homophobic language and saying he did not keep in mind having mentioned in a deposition that he’d used sexist language at work.
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However there have been some inconsistencies between Levinsohn’s model of occasions and people of his associates, and they didn’t have proof to substantiate all their positions.

For instance, a portion of the deposition transcript in one of many instances, from 2001, which was considered by Enterprise Insider, exhibits Levinsohn responded “sure” when requested if he ever mentioned with every other workers throughout enterprise hours whereas at work “whether or not or not a feminine worker of Alta Vista was scorching” or whether or not one other one had labored as a stripper.

Folks near Levinsohn for weeks denied he had mentioned the issues detailed within the deposition, however when Enterprise Insider introduced him with proof of the deposition portion in query, he did not immediately deny having mentioned these issues.

David Folkenflik, the creator of the NPR article, mentioned he stands by his reporting, based mostly on interviews with 26 sources, courtroom paperwork, and monetary filings, and he mentioned the article was based mostly merely on journalistic motives.

The #MeToo motion has introduced down many highly effective media and leisure figures and ushered in an examination of office harassment and questionable conduct in opposition to girls. It is raised questions on whether or not males accused of #MeToo allegations can and may return to public life, and beneath what circumstances. Publishers have been questioned for giving a voice to individuals who have been accused of doing unhealthy issues.

Some might little question be offended that we gave a platform to somebody accused of problematic conduct. We determined to publish Levinsohn’s feedback to not defend or apologize for him however to indicate how one accused particular person feels about going from being a robust government to having their previous uncovered and profession threatened. It additionally gave an opportunity to ask him about a number of the most vital accusations made in opposition to him within the NPR article.

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Our interview has been condensed and edited for readability.

Tanya Dua: What was your first response whenever you came upon about NPR’s story?

Ross Levinsohn: That story paints me as someone accused of sexual harassment. The information and the findings within the lawsuits do not help it. The #MeToo motion is an important one. However this story got here on the top of the #MeToo motion, and it weaponized the motion and used it in opposition to me to break me. I believe I have been a champion and an advocate for girls.

Dua: In one of many lawsuits that named you, the defendant Amber Tribble alleged that when she requested you for a promotion, you pointed to a Fox Sports activities sideline reporter, who was a former pinup mannequin, as a template for fulfillment, saying she “discovered find out how to work her approach to the highest.” What did you imply?

Levinsohn: I used to be referring to an worker who was identified for her drive and work ethic and achieved success as a reporter for Fox Sports activities and later as a number of a number of tv collection.

Dua: In accordance with a portion of the deposition transcript within the different lawsuit that we considered, you have been requested should you ever mentioned with every other workers throughout work “whether or not or not a feminine worker of Alta Vista was scorching” and “Did you ever focus on with any male Alta Vista worker the concept that Chris was working as a stripper?” The transcript confirmed that in each instances you responded “sure.”

Levinsohn: I do not keep in mind saying this, but when I did say something of this nature, it’s unacceptable.

Dua: The article additionally references you “aggressively” kissing a girl “in open sight of others current,” together with your individual workers at a Billboard celebration in 2013 whilst you have been working its father or mother firm.

Levinsohn: The allegation isn’t true. I used to be not a kissing a girl, interval. This particular person was with me throughout the night time and she or he refuted it.

Dua: Would you inform us who that particular person was?

Levinsohn: I must ask her permission.

Dua: Sources near you’ve mentioned that you simply deny the accusations within the NPR story that whereas on the identical firm, you advised a Hollywood Reporter government in 2013 that you simply “wouldn’t keep” on the publication’s lunch honoring the leisure enterprise’ most influential style stylists as a result of he must be surrounded by gays — utilizing a vulgar epithet for them. The sources did not present any proof to help these denials, although.

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Levinsohn: I hung out on the occasion assembly with shoppers, honorees, and executives on the Soho Home in West Hollywood, together with being photographed with many in attendance. As an government who has overseen practically 20,000 workers in my profession, and somebody who understands human-resource insurance policies, if there’s ever a declare like this in an organization, it should be investigated by the corporate. A declare of this nature was not dropped at the corporate, I by no means made this remark, and it’s not true.

In the event you have a look at my profession historical past, I’ve had all sorts of individuals on my staffs, and supported everybody’s proper to decide on how they reside their lives.

Dua: How has the story affected your life, personally and professionally?

Levinsohn: In at this time’s world, whether or not it was correct or not, as soon as it is revealed, it stays out on the web without end. The article broken my profession. It harm me personally. It impacted my kids and my household.

I do not know what it means for the remainder of my profession. It is a powerful factor to simply inform individuals. I may level out each single inaccuracy within the story, however that is a tough factor for a future employer or a board or one thing to say, that is wonderful.

Dua: Why handle these accusations now?

Levinsohn: I wished to maintain my head down. The very best factor you are able to do is to do your job. And that is what I used to be doing for the final yr. I am now not on the firm. I believed it was the best time. I am hopeful that as the reality emerges that it’s going to assist me. It has been a few weeks since I left Tribune Publishing, so I’ve not gone out to search for, or interviewed for a job but. However I am hopeful that I can transfer ahead in my profession and proceed to work.

Dua: Trying again, would you’ve finished something in a different way?

Levinsohn: The information and the findings within the lawsuits do not help the query. It actually would not sound like me to me.

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