Seattle Times journalist Mike Rosenberg was apparently suspended by the newspaper after he seemingly sent writer Talia Jane an explicit direct message early Sunday morning. Jane alerted the paper to his behavior, and editors subsequently announced that he would be suspended.
Jane’s conversation with Rosenberg began when he messaged her about whether she had considered applying for reporting jobs. In the past, Jane has written for outlets like Vice and Cracked (back in 2016, she also wrote for Fusion, which is now Splinter). The conversation began respectfully, but the tone quickly shifted.
“Anyway you’re so beautiful. Anyway you are hilarious,” Rosenberg seemingly wrote. He followed up those borderline-harassing messages with this one, 40 minutes later: “there is so much cum on your face.”
Jane shared the DMs on Twitter, initially without revealing Rosenberg’s identity.
After Jane responded by calling out Rosenberg’s disgusting behavior, he told her that he sent the message by accident, an excuse she didn’t buy.
Jane then asked Rosenberg to suspend his Twitter account, to which he eventually agreed. She also emailed Times editors to alert them to Rosenberg’s behavior.
“I am bringing this information to your attention because the media landscape is filled with men who abuse their platforms to engage in predatory sexual harassment with less established voices,” Jane wrote in her email. “This behavior routinely discourages women and marginalized voices from entering the field and sets a precedent for other men to follow suit.”
Seattle Times Executive Editor Don Shelton eventually responded to Jane’s email.
“I want to update you that we have suspended the reporter who sent you the inappropriate messages on Twitter while we investigate the situation thoroughly,” Shelton wrote. “Thank you again for bringing this to our attention so we could deal with the situation. We are taking this very seriously and do not tolerate this kind of behavior.”
The newspaper then announced Rosenberg’s suspension publicly, without naming him.
Jane eventually did reveal Rosenberg’s identity, after he apparently sent her an email offering to buy her silence with a $1,000 donation to the National Organization for Women. Really dude???
Jane wrote on Twitter that she didn’t intend to “end [Rosenberg’s] career,” and said an email to Seattle Times editors that she doesn’t expect Rosenberg to be fired, just held accountable.
“If the consequences of his actions are that he loses his job, then that’s wholly his responsibility. His behavior is not my fault,” she wrote on Twitter.
This isn’t the first time that Jane has found herself in the midst of a public reckoning over sexual harassment. Last September, she outed a former Cracked writer who went by the name John Cheese for sexual harassment of herself and other women. Cheese’s writing was eventually removed from the site at Jane’s request. Given this history, it’s incredible that Rosenberg would apparently believe he could get away with sending these messages to Jane.
Jane posted on Twitter Sunday evening that she has no further comment on the story, adding only “also, please unionize your newsrooms.”
Update, 11:40 p.m. ET: Rosenberg has confirmed to the online publication Crosscut that he did indeed send the messages to Jane, but says he did so by accident.
“They weren’t supposed to go to her,” Rosenberg told Crosscut. When the journalist asked him who they were intended for, he responded “I would rather not say.”
Rosenberg apparently then told Crosscut that he was at the hospital, before hanging up the phone.
The Crosscut reporter also was able to reach Seattle Times executive editor Don Shelton, who would not say whether Rosenberg’s suspension was paid or unpaid.
Rosenberg was also apparently a board member of the Society of Professional Journalists for Western Washington, which responded to a request for comment from Crosscut saying that it has suspended him.
“We take this claim very seriously and have suspended the board member pending further information,” the organization said. “Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in journalism and other industries, and we support survivors.”
Update, 05/06/19, 5:00 a.m. ET: Twitter, excelling at supporting victims of harassment as always, temporarily suspended Jane’s account after she tweeted a common expression. Almost a quickly they unsuspended the account.
Great job, guys!