The New York Times said it will suspend, rather than fire, political reporter Glenn Thrush, who was accused of harassing women when he worked for another publication.
Following a lengthy internal investigation, the newspaper said Thursday that Thrush would be given a two-month suspension and then stripped of his prestigious beat covering the White House. He will be reassigned once his suspension is up next month, Executive Editor Dean Baquet said in a statement.
Thrush, 50, was among the many prominent men who have been accused of harassing behavior over the past three months, a wave touched off by the Times itself with its revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Thrush's punishment is highly unusual in that he will not lose his job; most of the men who have been accused since October have been fired. The remedy in his case suggests that employers — or perhaps just the Times — are attempting to grapple with a variety of factors in dealing with those who are accused of workplace misconduct.
Thrush's professional fate was put in jeopardy last month by allegations published by the website Vox. The report, written by a former Politico editor, said Thrush had made unwanted overtures toward four women — including the author — when he worked at Politico, typically after social events involving alcohol. Thrush has since acknowledged a problem with alcohol abuse.
Baquet declined to explain the Times's reasoning for Thrush's suspension or why he is being removed from covering the White House, where he was among the most prominent beat reporters. But his continued presence on the beat could have raised questions about his impartiality, given that both he and President Trump have been accused of sexual harassment.
"While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired," Baquet said in a statement. He said Thrush will receive "training designed to improve his workplace conduct," and that Thrush is undergoing counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation on his own.
Baquet added: "We understand that our colleagues and the public at large are grappling with what constitutes sexually offensive behavior in the workplace and what consequences are appropriate. It is an important debate with far-reaching consequences that we helped spark with our journalism and that we've been reflecting on internally as well. Each case has to be evaluated based on individual circumstances. We believe this is an appropriate response to Glenn's situation."
Baquet and Thrush didn't return requests for comment.
Thrush's profile rose when he was hired by the Times in January just as Trump took office. His rotund face, goatee and habit of wearing a hat were parodied by Bobby Moynihan on "Saturday Night Live" in sketches featuring Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, the former press secretary.
Before the allegations against Thrush arose, he had signed a contract to write a book about Trump with his Times colleague Maggie Haberman. The project was put on hold pending the outcome of the Times investigation.
Thrush also was a contributor to MSNBC, which had no comment on his status on Wednesday. The Times hasn't determined what Thrush will cover once he returns early next year.
In addition to its groundbreaking coverage of Weinstein, the Times broke several stories about Trump's alleged groping of women during the presidential campaign last year. It also revealed in April that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and Fox News had settled five harassment claims against him by female colleagues since 2002.
An attorney at the Times, Charlotte Behrendt, led an investigation of Thrush over the past several weeks in which more than 30 current and former colleagues at the newspaper and Politico were interviewed.