The Los Angeles Times has been out front doing some serious reporting on numerous sexual harassment and assault scandals that have plagued powerful men in media and entertainment this past year, so it comes as quite a surprise that their CEO and publisher, Ross Levinsohn, has now been accused of similar actions.
A spokeswoman for L.A. Times' parent company, Chicago-based tronc Inc., said in an e-mail the company had no comment on the report.
A former executive for the company also testified that Levinsohn was "creating a frat house environment" and his "behavior was inappropriate". "We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what's occurred", the statement read. As a result, NPR painted a picture of Levinsohn that accuses him of turning the Times newsroom into, their quote, a "frat house".
According to the NPR report, Levinsohn admitted in sworn testimony to rating the "hotness" of female subordinates while working as an executive at the search company Alta Vista, and wondering aloud whether one female colleague worked as a stripper on the side. "At Tronc, we expect all employees to act in a way that supports a culture of diversity and inclusion".
The committee called for an independent investigation to examine the hiring process and determine whether he acted inappropriately toward Times employees during his tenure as publisher.
Court documents reveal that Ross Levinsohn has been a defendant in two different lawsuits and former colleagues of his have questioned his behavior in the workplace, NPR reported after uncovering court documents, financial filings and interviewing 26 of Levinsohn's former colleagues. It was there, in March 2013, that Levinsohn allegedly told an executive he didn't want to stay at a company event about fashion because he would be surrounded by "f-s", using an anti-gay slur, NPR said. "His behavior was inappropriate".
Levinsohn, known for throwing lavish parties - some of them on yachts and with paid models - went on to work at Yahoo and then the owners of Hollywood Reporter.
"A man who sexually harasses women, engages in "slut-shaming" and refers to gay men as "fags" is not fit to lead our newspaper", the statement said. "Once that review is complete, we will take swift and appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of our expectations". "Tronc and its board of directors must be held accountable for their failure to properly vet Levinsohn for one of the most important positions at the company and in American journalism". But a recent effort to unionize has been prompted by concerns over finances, staff cutbacks and management turnover, according to the newspaper.
A group of 12 senior editors at the Times also signed a statement saying his alleged behavior is "unacceptable and jeopardizes The Times' 136-year legacy of integrity", NPR's Folkenflik reported on Twitter.