L.A. Times Publisher Accused of Homophobic Comment and Sexual Harassment

Ross Levinsohn, the CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, has been accused of homophobic behavior and sexual harassment of women in a story on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

tronc, npr, los angeles times
Ross Levinsohn (Bloomberg News, 2013)

“This story is based on a review of court documents, financial filings and fresh interviews with 26 former colleagues and associates,” says journalist David Folkenflik. “Taken in concert, they suggest a pattern of questionable behavior and questionable decisions on the job. The portrait that repeatedly emerges is one of a frat-boy executive, catapulting ever higher, even as he creates corporate climates that alienated some of the people who worked for and with him.”

Among the accusations is that Levinsohn, while an executive at Guggenheim Partners, controlling owner of the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard magazine, left a March 2014 luncheon on the rooftop of the SoHo House in West Hollywood that was attended by celebrities such as Naomi Watts and Zoe Saldana and Hollywood fashion stylists, telling a Hollywood Reporter executive: “As my buddy said, why would I hang out with a bunch of ladies and fags?”

According to NPR, the executive called Hollywood Reporter’s human resources department to describe the incident and has confirmed it to NPR.

The NPR report includes numerous accusations of sexually aggressive behavior toward women or inappropriate comments to them by Levinsohn while working for Guggenheim, News Corp. and Alta Vista, the former search engine company, where he admitted in sexual harassment trial that he had rated female employees by their “hotness.”

A group behind an effort to create a union of L.A. Times reporters issued a statement demanding that Levinsohn resign or be fired. “We are appalled by the findings in the NPR story,” the statement reads. “A man who sexually harasses women, engages in ‘slut-shaming’ and refers to gay men as ‘fags’ is not fit to lead our newspaper.”

NPR reports that Levinsohn “did not respond on the record to detailed questions emailed to him and a Times spokeswoman setting out the chief allegations raised in this story. In a telephone call he initiated Wednesday with NPR’s CEO, Jarl Mohn, Levinsohn called those allegations ‘lies’ and said he would retain legal counsel if he felt NPR had disparaged him.“

Tronc, the parent company of the Los Angeles Times, has said that the allegations are under investigation.

More details from the NPR story and a link to the NPR recording can be found here.

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