Sexual harassment accusations leveled against journalists Charlie Rose and Glenn Thrush on Monday portray both men as predators — and something else, too: fakers.
Behind Rose's dignified image, cultivated over decades on PBS, is a groping exhibitionist, according to women who told The Washington Post's Irin Carmon and Amy Brittain about their experiences working for him. Vox reported that Thrush, a White House correspondent for the New York Times, masks a penchant for unwanted advances under the facade of a mentor.
While this is hardly the most important consideration at a time when more and more women are coming forward with accounts of predatory behavior by men in power, it is worth noting a negative side effect of the allegations against Rose, Thrush and other prominent media figures such as former NPR top editor Mike Oreskes and former ABC politics director Mark Halperin: The notion that these men successfully misled many colleagues and the public about their true natures feeds the “fake news” narrative pushed by President Trump, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and others.
If they were fake in the way they presented themselves, the reasoning goes, maybe they were fake in their reporting, too. Maybe lots of reporting is fake.
The Thrush news broke first on Monday, and Trump boosters such as Breitbart's John Nolte and Internet activist Jack Posobiec, a regular on Infowars programming, quickly used the report to cast doubt on Thrush's work, specifically, and New York Times journalism, generally.
It is a logical leap to say that sexual harassment equals fake news, but the reality is that the alleged actions of Thrush, Rose and others open the media to questions about further deceptions.
Consider this brief passage from Laura McGann's report for Vox: “As many people told me in the course of reporting this story, Thrush is a talker — or, as many put it, ‘a bulls---ter.’ He likes to hear gossip, and he likes to spread it.”
Great — a “bulls---ter.” That certainly doesn't help rebut claims by media detractors that many press accounts are, essentially, bulls---.