For three decades, Leon Wieseltier was a prominent literary editor at the most prominent of left-wing periodicals, the New Republic. Just a week away from launching a brand new magazine, the left-wing icon was hit with numerous claims of sexual harassment and “inappropriate advances.” The allegations cost Wieseltier his funding. The magazine is now dead, and he has publicly apologized for his “offenses” against his former colleagues.
According to the New York Times, “Several women on [an email] chain said they were humiliated when Mr. Wieseltier sloppily kissed them on the mouth, sometimes in front of other staff members.” According to these women, Wieseltier would also openly discuss his sex life, “once describing the breasts of a former girlfriend in detail.”
The women said that Wieseltier “made passes at female staffers … and pressed them for details about their own sexual encounters.” He complained to some women that their “dresses were not tight enough. One woman said he left a note on her desk thanking her for the miniskirt she wore to the office that day.”
During a fact-check session, one woman alleges Wieseltier “forced her to look at a photograph of a nude sculpture in an art book, asking her if she had ever seen a more erotic picture.”
The women further claim that the New Republic’s male staffers were well aware of Wieseltier’s behavior and did absolutely nothing to stop it.
In the wake of the allegations, Wieseltier’s backer, Emerson Collective, a for-profit endeavor funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, pulled the plug and issued a statement: “Upon receiving information related to past inappropriate workplace conduct, Emerson Collective ended its business relationship with Leon Wieseltier, including a journal planned for publication under his editorial direction,” the statement read. “The production and distribution of the journal has been suspended.”
Wieseltier then issued an apology: “For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” his Tuesday statement said. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them I will not waste this reckoning.”