Mike Rosenberg of the Seattle Times was suspended this weekend after a woman publicly accused him of sending her disgusting direct messages through Twitter.
Rosenberg, a married real estate reporter for the Seattle Times, was messaging with Brooklyn based freelance writer Talia Jane in the very early hours of Sunday morning.
The messages, as screencapped by Jane, started out at 2:52 a.m. with Rosenberg encouraging her to apply for reporting jobs. Very quickly, though, things escalated into creepy sexual talk.
At 3:10 a.m. Rosenberg wrote, “Anyway you’re so beautiful.”
At 3:13 a.m. he wrote, “Anyway you are hilarious.”
At 3:55 a.m. he wrote, “There is so much cum on your face.”
being a woman is totally normal and very cool pic.twitter.com/YSjk5frlJ4
— talia jane (@itsa_talia) May 5, 2019
Without naming Rosenberg (at first), Jane made the messages public on Twitter writing, “Being a woman is totally normal and very cool.”
She added, “Feeling supes chill that an established, married journalist is so comfortable using my lack of a job to get me to chat so he can tell me i have cum on my beautiful, hilarious face.”
At 4:00 a.m. she responded to his message with, “This isn’t appropriate.”
At 4:14 a.m. Rosenberg knew his life was over. “Holy shit,” he wrote back in a panic. “You’re entirely right, that wasn’t intended for you, I am sorry.”
Jane reminded him that “you could’ve noticed the error for 45 minutes and instead kept going.”
Jane also made this part of the conversation public and explained to her 20 thousand-plus Twitter followers that “testing the waters & feigning oopsie is pretty typical in sexual harassment. so is initiating conversation on the premise of professionalism.”
In a panic, Rosenberg asked what he could do. Jane told him to delete his Twitter account so he could not do this other women and to inform his wife of what he had done.
Rosenberg did delete his account.
Jane then contacted the editors of the Seattle Times to inform them of Rosenberg’s behavior.
Executive Editor Don Shelton responded with the news that Rosenberg had been suspended.
“I want to update you that we have suspended the reporter who sent you the inappropriate messages on Twitter while we investigate the situation thoroughly,” Shelton wrote. “Thank you again for bringing this to our attention so we could deal with the situation. We are taking this very seriously and do not tolerate this kind of behavior.”
Sunday evening, the paper publicly announced Rosenberg’s suspension without naming him. “Earlier today, The Seattle Times was made aware of allegations of sexual harassment against a news employee,” the statement read. “We have suspended the employee pending an investigation by our human resources group. As this is a personnel matter, we will have no further comment on this at this time.”
Earlier today, The Seattle Times was made aware of allegations of sexual harassment against a news employee. We have suspended the employee pending an investigation by our human resources group. As this is a personnel matter, we will have no further comment on this at this time.
— Seattle Times Co. (@SeattleTimesCo) May 5, 2019
Jane’s decision to identify Rosenberg came after he sent her an email promising to send $1000 to the National Organization for Women (NOW) if she would not out him. This was the last straw.
“[H]e sent an email asking for empathy to not out him and promised a $1,000 donation to NOW. wrong move. women are not toys. we certainly should not be played with and efforts to manipulate us will not be tolerated. live with your choices.”
And with that, she published a screen grab of Rosenberg’s name and profile photo.
he sent an email asking for empathy to not out him and promised a $1,000 donation to NOW. wrong move. women are not toys. we certainly should not be played with and efforts to manipulate us will not be tolerated. live with your choices. pic.twitter.com/ZKmEgBQSfh
— talia jane (@itsa_talia) May 5, 2019
Jane said she is not trying to end Rosenberg’s career, but if “the consequences of his actions are that he loses his job, then that’s wholly his responsibility. His behavior is not my fault.”
For his part, Rosenberg spoke to Crosscut and confirmed he did send the messages but claimed the sexual DMs “weren’t supposed to go to her.” He wouldn’t say who they were supposed to go to.
Crosscut describes Rosenberg as a “well-known journalist in the region who, before deleting his profile, had tens of thousands of Twitter followers. He covered growth in the city, reporting on the sharp rise in the cost of living in Seattle, focusing specifically on housing.”
Crosscut adds, “Before being hired at The Seattle Times, Rosenberg was a reporter in the Bay Area, working at the San Jose Mercury News. He was also a board member of the Society of Professional Journalists for Western Washington.”
The Society of Professional Journalists for Western Washington has also suspended Rosenberg.
“We take this claim very seriously and have suspended the board member pending further information,” the organization told Crosscut. “Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in journalism and other industries, and we support survivors.”