Journalist suspended after colleague exposes his creepy Twitter DMs

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a working woman will eventually face some form of inappropriate sexual behavior. But instead of sucking it up as women have been trained to do, one journalist exposed her harasser in a Twitter thread and had him suspended by his employer in a matter of hours—inspiring other women to share numerous similar accounts.

On Sunday evening, journalist Talia Jane shared screenshots of her conversation with Seattle Times housing and real estate reporter Mike Rosenberg, who somehow managed to go from asking her about job applications to saying there’s “so much cum” on her face.

Jane, known for writing an open letter to her employers at Yelp that reportedly prompted her termination, first shared screenshots of the chat without identifying who the harasser was. It showed a light-hearted conversation about her finding a job and New York being expensive to (an entirely one-sided) chat about her attractiveness and, eventually, cum:

After his repeated messages, she told him they were neither “appropriate” nor “acceptable.” He apologized and requested that she not expose him as it would “devastate” his wife, according to screenshots she shared in the thread. He explained that he’d been meaning to send that message to someone else, but as Jane pointed out in one of her later tweets, he had ample time to figure out he was sending the messages.

In a subsequent conversation, which Jane documented in the thread through screenshots, she asked him to get rid of Twitter account so that he doesn’t continue his predatory behavior. He said that would get him fired and end his career, which are often the consequences women suffer when they don’t reciprocate men’s advances. When she asked him to acknowledge publicly that he’s the one who sent those tweets, he instead chose to deactivate his account.

She also wrote an email to his Seattle Times editors. “I am bringing this information to your attention because the media landscape is filled with men who abuse their platforms to engage in predatory sexual harassment with less established voices,” she wrote. “This behavior routinely discourages women and marginalized voices from entering the field and sets a precedent for other men to follow suit.”

Seattle Times Executive Editor Don Shelton wrote back promptly, saying they’d suspended Rosenberg and are investigating the matter.

When reached on the phone by Crosscut, Rosenberg confirmed he had sent those messages and wasn’t comfortable discussing who they were actually for. Shelton, when contacted by Crosscut, did not say if Rosenberg’s suspension was with or without pay.

Needless to say, the thread inspired many women to share similar accounts on their jobs. According to a 2018 Columbia Journalism Review survey of about 300 journalists, 41% said they’d been sexually harassed on the job, and only a third of them had reported their incident. But these accounts shared on Twitter show that most women will face such harassment numerous times over the course of their careers. Many responded to Harper’s Bazaar editor Jennifer Wright’s call to share similar anecdotes:

Many women said they’ve had to use the “boyfriend excuse” to get out of harassing behavior.

Women have also heard harassers give the “oops, it was an accident” excuse after getting called out, too.

At the core of the conversation is how normalized such behavior is for men who have gotten away with it for so long. As @tragedythyme points out in her account, sometimes these “jokes” and advances are blurred with professional behavior such as “lunch” or done in a manner that might not be explicitly scary or creepy, and it doesn’t force women out of their jobs or careers. But sometimes, women do end up facing repercussions for not entertaining these advances.

Some women have left their professions entirely to avoid predators. Which is an important reminder to the many who are defending Rosenberg and sending Jane messages that she didn’t need to end his career which, by the way, she wasn’t planning on, as she stated in an email to the Seattle Times editor. For the time, Rosenberg has been suspended.

In the end, Jane has received much more applause than derision for her approach to shaming Rosenberg for his behavior. By outing and humiliating him, Jane has shifted the shame where it belongs: to the perpetrator.

(Neither Jane nor Rosenberg immediately responded to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.)

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque