The New Yorker has severed ties with its Washington reporter, Ryan Lizza. The magazine’s statement:
The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct. 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.
The Washington Post reports:
Lizza was apparently the subject of a single complaint about nonconsensual behavior, though the behavior in question hasn’t been disclosed.
Douglas Wigdor, a veteran New York litigator who said he is representing the woman who accused Lizza, denied the journalist’s characterization. “In no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a ‘respectful relationship’ as he has now tried to characterize it,” Wigdor said in an emailed statement. “Our client reported Mr. Lizza’s actions to ensure that he would be held accountable and in the hope that by coming forward she would help other potential victims.”
OK, wait. A single accusation. Did this woman work for the New Yorker? Were criminal charges filed? Maybe what the magazine has done here is justifiable, but in my view, it’s not based on what we know now. This anonymous accuser gets to make a non-specified (to the public) accusation against a reporter, who immediately loses his job and his reputation. We don’t know any context, and have no way to judge the accuracy or seriousness of the allegations. He’s gone, just like that.
Again, it is possible that what the magazine did today is fair. But how would one know? How would we know that Ryan Lizza wasn’t railroaded? Is everyone now susceptible to losing their jobs based on non-criminal private conduct that violates no stated policies of their company?
Let’s say you had a bad divorce, and are simply accused — what then?
For a third time: what the magazine did might well have been justified. But we do not know that yet. This is an unnerving situation, as it stands right now (7pm Central, on Monday night).