Five Women Are Accusing A Top Left-Leaning Media Executive Of Sexually Harassing Them



Don Hazen has been an govt at left-leaning media shops for the reason that 1980s, first helming the influential Mom Jones journal as writer and later heading AlterNet, an internet outlet publishing and syndicating reporting on “the surroundings, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, and well being care points.”

However 5 ladies journalists have advised BuzzFeed Information that Hazen sexually harassed them whereas they labored for AlterNet, touching them inappropriately, discussing their intercourse lives, making undesirable advances, sending specific emails, and displaying them specific pictures — together with certainly one of his bare, erect penis. (The ladies have remained mates since.) A sixth journalist stated she was sexually harassed by him, although she wasn’t his worker on the time.

After BuzzFeed Information requested Hazen and the board of the Impartial Media Institute, AlterNet’s nonprofit guardian, for remark, the board returned a press release on Wednesday saying Hazen has been positioned on “indefinite depart” because of the accusations.

“The Board of Administrators of the Impartial Media Institute takes these allegations extraordinarily critically. The group has lengthy been dedicated to sustaining a protected and equitable office. We now have a grievance course of outlined within the group’s worker handbook; any complaints involving the chief director would go to the board chair, and no worker has initiated that course of. We are actually investigating the allegations intimately; within the meantime, govt director Don Hazen has been positioned on indefinite depart, efficient instantly,” six of the seven board members stated in a press release.

Hazen, in an interview, advised BuzzFeed Information, “Within the environment of a lot of dialogue about editorial subjects like intercourse and medicines, I misplaced observe of some boundaries I wanted to maintain. I had private conversations with workers I shouldn’t have had, made feedback I shouldn’t have made, and take duty for failure to acknowledge the implications of my place and age in supervising folks at that interval.” In an earlier assertion, he stated, “I deny most of allegations as have been introduced to me by Buzzfeed, and I imagine that others have been mischaracterized.”

Hazen has stated that AlterNet was an early web adopter that, at its peak within the late 1990s, syndicated 150 newspapers within the US and Canada and had as much as 7 million distinctive guests monthly, putting it among the many high 400 websites on-line on the time. It has printed high progressive minds reminiscent of Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, and former secretary of labor Robert Reich.

The previous staff’ allegations date again to 2008, and the incidents befell in San Francisco, the place AlterNet has an workplace, or in numerous New York places, the place there isn’t any fastened workplace. All six ladies agreed to have their names printed. Eleven different folks — together with mates, coworkers, and different former staff of Hazen — stated they have been advised about or noticed the incidents, and BuzzFeed Information additionally reviewed Gchats and emails from the time describing among the encounters.

BuzzFeed Information initially reached out to a number of of the ladies after receiving a safe tip about Hazen — the sender was and stays nameless — that included a few of their names. 4 ladies on this article later responded to BuzzFeed Information as a bunch. The others stated that they had begun talking to at least one one other after the New York Occasions printed its exposé of Harvey Weinstein.

A number of of the journalists emphasised that Hazen’s help for his or her work was essential for them early of their careers, as younger reporters seeking to break into the aggressive information business and make names for themselves at shops with progressive values.

Most of the ladies who spoke with BuzzFeed Information stated that the youngest, least skilled ladies — these with the fewest skilled connections — have been typically the first targets of Hazen’s harassment.

Kristen Gwynne, who labored at AlterNet in New York from 2011 to 2013 and is now a contract reporter, met Hazen whereas she was protecting a protest for a category as a journalism scholar.

“I had no connections. I didn’t know anyone. He stated, ‘Ship it to me, and I’ll publish it,’” Gwynne stated concerning the story she was engaged on. Shortly after, Hazen gave her an internship, then a full-time job. The work coated her lease, payments, and scholar mortgage funds — however she stated his habits towards her shortly turned harassment.

“There was inappropriate touching — hugs and kisses on the cheek on the workplace,” she stated. “He can be pointing, and one way or the other my boob was in the best way of the course he was aiming for.” Hazen stated if this “presumably occurred, it was purely unintended.”

In a single incident, throughout an editorial assembly at a Cosi sandwich store close to Union Sq. on Valentine’s Day a number of years in the past, Gwynne stated that Hazen advised her he had lately seen an image on the web of a girl who “regarded identical to her” — then confirmed her a photograph of a unadorned, busty, blonde porn star. Gwynne advised at the very least 5 coworkers concerning the incident on the time or since, they confirmed to BuzzFeed Information. Hazen stated he remembered displaying Gwynne “a photograph on the net, of a film star” however didn’t keep in mind displaying her a unadorned image.

In one other incident, Gwynne stated she was attending an occasion at which Hazen and the previous writer of the New Republic, Hamilton Fish, have been additionally current.

Gwynne talked about to the 2 that she lived close to a public pool in New York that was named for Fish’s household, and the place she typically went swimming. Fish, she stated, regarded her up and down and stated she ought to dive into it whereas sporting an AlterNet T-shirt — as a “double promotion” for him and the positioning. Hazen went together with the feedback. One of many ladies who spoke with BuzzFeed Information stated she witnessed this occur, and one other stated she was advised about it afterwards. (Fish didn’t reply to a request for remark. He resigned from the New Republic in November over sexual harassment allegations, saying in a press release, “Girls have longstanding and profound issues with respect to their remedy within the office. Many males have loads to be taught on this regard. I do know I do.”)

In Could 2012, after Gwynne had been working on the web site for a yr, Hazen emailed her the textual content of a bit she’d written on the New York Police Division’s “cease and frisk” follow, with “that is good” within the topic line. Gwynne replied, “When can we meet up in New York? Numerous cease and frisk stuff to speak about.”

Hazen, in messages reviewed by BuzzFeed Information, replied: “Are you going to cease and frisk me? I’ll see you on the Cease and Frisk occasion, Monday, proper? Aside from that, perhaps Tuesday night time up city… afterward take a look at some edibles.”

Most of the former staff who spoke with BuzzFeed Information stated it was widespread for Hazen to drink, smoke, and eat edibles with staffers, a few of whom coated marijuana legalization efforts. It was a part of the tradition of the office, they stated, and so they have been typically as sport as he was. However sometimes, they stated, Hazen would strain them to affix, even once they had different plans or felt they’d had sufficient. Hazen stated there have been occasional firm vacation events at eating places the place some staffers would sometimes go outdoors to smoke pot and that, “I by no means ate edibles in my condo with the ladies making the costs right here.”

Liliana Segura, who labored at AlterNet from January 2008 to July 2010 in New York and is now a reporter on the Intercept, stated there can be “these day-to-day, typically humiliating, typically simply irritating postures” that floor her and different ladies who labored on the web site down. Responding to the day-to-day characterization, Hazen stated that he spends 60% of his time in San Francisco.

Hazen would typically anticipate her to have dinner with him and accompany him to advantages or different occasions in San Francisco as his date when she was on the town, she stated, the place he’d overtly make judgments about her home and private life together with her then-partner. If she made different plans, she stated, he would angrily complain, behaving like she’d executed one thing unsuitable.

“The sexism on the coronary heart of this place was way more directed at ladies in methods massive and small,” she stated. “It’s unusual to consider now how a lot we tolerated.”

Laura Gottesdiener, now a contract journalist and information producer at Democracy Now!, labored half time at AlterNet from 2012 to 2014 as a author and editor. She was primarily based in New York and stated she had in-person conferences with Hazen each few months at his request — as many as 10 — which she understood to be a situation of her employment.

Gottesdiener advised BuzzFeed Information she known as these one-on-ones her “obligatory sexual harassment conferences.” Her roommate, together with a subsequent colleague she advised concerning the interactions, confirmed that she described them this solution to them on the time and since.

On the conferences, Gottesdiener stated Hazen would hug and kiss her — regardless of her going for a handshake — and ask private, specific questions.

“Each in-person assembly I had with him, which I understood to be a requirement of my employment, felt like an excuse for him to sexually harass me,” she stated. “Asking me about my intercourse life, discovering excuses to the touch my physique, and on the finish of conferences requiring me to hug him, throughout which he would kiss me on the cheek or neck with out my consent whilst I pushed him away and strained bodily to keep away from his contact.”

Hazen stated, “I by no means touched her inappropriately. I had no purpose to ask her about her intercourse life and I by no means did.”

Tana Ganeva, a former AlterNet worker, labored for the positioning first as an editorial assistant after which in different enhancing roles in San Francisco, from February 2008 to June 2011, earlier than turning into its managing editor, primarily based in New York, till February 2016. Ganeva stated that after working for Hazen for a number of years, she commented to him that he gave the impression to be primarily hiring historically enticing ladies. She stated he then admitted to her that he employed ladies partly primarily based on their appears to be like.

“His response was to appraise a number of feminine staff’ bodily appearances to me, alongside the strains of, ‘X is enticing, however she’s previous.’ ‘X is cute, I suppose, however probably not my sort.’ ‘Additionally, I didn’t even understand X was as handsome as she is once I wished to rent her.’ ‘Additionally, X was essentially the most lovely out of everybody, and she or he’s not right here anymore.’ ‘So, principally, what I’m saying is that you simply don’t should be enticing to work right here, it simply helps,’” Ganeva recalled. (The X’s stood for numerous feminine coworkers’ names.)

Ganeva stated Hazen would take pictures and movies of her at work, with out her specific consent, and touch upon her “excellent legs” and different components of her physique. He’d additionally comment when she gained or misplaced weight. (The opposite ladies who spoke to BuzzFeed Information about their experiences at AlterNet stated they both witnessed this occurring or have been advised about it afterwards.) Hazen stated he typically took “pleasant photographs” within the workplace. He stated he additionally expressed concern she was getting too skinny.

“One time he introduced up his images behavior to me, asking ‘Have you learnt what’s bizarre about once I take footage of you?’” Ganeva stated. “Considering he’d hit on some self-awareness, I paused to listen to his conclusion. He continued, ‘You by no means suppose you look good in them. So I questioned to myself in case you suppose you’ve an unrealistic concept of what you appear to be. As a result of, you’re enticing and the whole lot, however you’re nothing particular.’”

Hazen, all 5 former staff stated, would typically recommend that conferences about editorial issues be held at his condo on the Higher West Facet within the evenings, after which they might typically be inspired to drink and eat edibles with him and his older male mates.

At one one-on-one assembly over editorial issues in winter 2011, Ganeva stated Hazen began displaying her a private assortment of printed pictures from the 1970s and 1980s, “primarily of younger ladies he stated he had dated,” she stated. Then he handed her a black and white of his erect penis, which she stated he known as “inventive.”

“I took the picture the best way one does when somebody palms you one thing and also you haven’t processed what it’s, regarded on the image of his erect penis, then handed it again to him,” she stated. “I don’t suppose I stated something. It was kind of an arty picture, I suppose, however I actually wasn’t completely happy to have a picture of my boss’s erect dick emblazoned in my mind.” Hazen stated he does have such a photograph and that it’s attainable that among the ladies have seen it — however he has no recollection of displaying it to Ganeva.

In early summer time 2008, at a celebration of a mutual buddy held at Martuni’s bar in San Francisco, Ganeva stated Hazen requested a male buddy of hers to touch upon her appears to be like and intercourse attraction in entrance of her. The identical night time, she stated, Hazen ran his palms up and down her again in a sexualized manner and repeatedly advised her to drink extra, providing to purchase her a drink. When she declined, he stated, “What about if I twist your arm,” then bodily twisted her arm behind her again and pressed her towards a desk. Her buddy bodily pulled Hazen off of her, he advised BuzzFeed Information. Ganeva stated Hazen known as her on the telephone to apologize the following morning.

The buddy, who stated he didn’t wish to be named as a result of he didn’t wish to distract from Ganeva’s story, was subsequently employed at AlterNet following the incident. He advised BuzzFeed Information that whereas he labored on the outlet he “ran loads of interference” of that sort between Hazen and his feminine staff. (The buddy is presently an worker at BuzzFeed Information.) Hazen stated he remembered rubbing Ganeva’s shoulders and stopping when she indicated it was undesirable. He says he doesn’t keep in mind twisting her arm.

Deanna Zandt, who started a five-year sexual and romantic relationship with Hazen in 2003, when she was 28, stated she additionally started working for him as a guide that yr, although by no means a full-time worker. (Zandt stated the connection was initially consensual.) She continued to seek the advice of for him once they broke up in April 2008, she stated, however stopped in July 2008 when it turned too emotionally tough. She then continued to work periodically for Hazen till 2011.

Starting when she was in her twenties, Zandt stated that Hazen groomed her for harassment and abuse. Hazen would additionally make her really feel her skilled success was conditional on his help, she stated.

Whereas they have been romantically concerned and afterwards, Hazen would typically give her work primarily based on her monetary necessity, she added, in a manner that felt personally controlling.

“I would want to pay a telephone invoice or a fuel invoice one month, and he would ask, ‘How a lot do you want?’ after which give me that few hundred ’ price of labor,” Zandt stated.

Hazen stated he remembers paying Zandt “regularly” and that “if I requested her if she wanted extra work for more cash, it will have been as a supportive boss.”

In an e mail in 2015 to Mac McClelland, a journalist who first met Hazen as an intern at Mom Jones and later interacted with him each personally and professionally, Hazen wrote, in reference to an occasion that they had simply attended: “keep in mind once I talked about being Fortunate Pierre” — referring to a intercourse act — “between you and the opposite lovely lady from Common Science… It’s also often known as the ‘French sandwich’ simply wished you to know I wasn’t making it up 🙂 … I used it within the heterosexual manner ( in contrast with the city dictionary) … however a prepare is a prepare 😉 …..”

Hazen continued: “One of many phenomenon I wish to look at — although it will not be simple — is how males throughout the board react to very horny enticing ladies — who could also be thought-about ‘obtainable’ within the male head. As I observe your journey, the undercurrent of fixed consideration —principally undesirable —from so many males mates, enemies, acquaintances, bar denizens, on and on is such a continuing subtext .. and attainable set off. xD.”

Under this, Hazen then included the City Dictionary definition of the time period: “The center man in a Three-way buttfuck. Also called the French Sandwich. Because the black balls have been slapping off his quivering ass, Pierre thought to …”

Hazen stated he thought the e-mail was “permissible and never inappropriate” as a result of McClelland had beforehand written about intercourse. McClelland stated, “The e-mail speaks for itself.”

The 5 ladies who accused Hazen of sexual harassment within the office stated they have been unaware of any human sources mechanism at AlterNet and felt that they had few channels for recourse. Board members advised BuzzFeed Information that there was a grievance course of within the group’s worker handbook, which is given to staff firstly of employment, and that complaints involving Hazen would have gone to the board chair. Hazen stated there was no formal human sources workplace as a result of the corporate was so small.

“I feel one of many issues that was most tough for me concerning the sexual harassment was realizing that each my youthful coworker, whose work I ostensibly oversaw for a time period, and my older coworker, who ostensibly oversaw me, have been each being sexually harassed even worse than I used to be,” Gottesdiener stated.

“Realizing this made me really feel like I could not do something,” she stated. “I might neither flip to my superior to cease my very own harassment, nor might I do something to assist the youthful author. So I ended up feeling each caught and really responsible.”

A part of what was galling, the ladies stated, was that Hazen had fundraised for AlterNet on the energy of its ladies writers, in a single occasion receiving $15,000 from the Harnisch Basis for the positioning’s “Gender Byline Challenge.”

Supportive foundations for AlterNet through the years have included the Ford Basis, which granted the group $500,000 in 2003, and the Albert A. Listing Basis, which granted the positioning $189,500 between 1995 and 2003 to help its work fostering “democracy and civic participation.” The location acquired a grant for $78,000 in 1999 from the Open Society Institute and $35,000 from the Glaser Basis in 2001, within the class of help for unbiased media, in firm with progressive shops Democracy Now! and Adbusters.

Hazen stated he was happy with elevating cash to help ladies writers. “Certainly one of my main objectives was to have the strongest refrain of girls writers anyplace on the net,” he stated.

“He went to funders and acquired grants supposed for web sites that promote gender equality, though AlterNet was owned and run by this one man, as a result of he was pitching all of our work,” Gottesdiener stated. “And he roughly sexually harassed folks as a lot as he felt like he might get away with it.”


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