Leon Wieseltier, a former editor for The New Republic and a fellow for the Brookings Institute, has admitted to engaging in inappropriate behavior toward women.
“For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” Wieseltier wrote in an email to the New York Times. “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.”
Wieseltier was set to start to a new magazine after he left The New Republic three years ago, but the recent allegations have killed the magazine. Emerson Collective, a for-profit philanthropy organization headed by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, announced that they were ending with their partnership with Wieseltier.
“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,” Emerson Collective said in a statement. “The production and distribution of the journal has been suspended.”
According to the Times, Wieseltier is alleged to have “sloppily kissed” female workers on the mouth and would frequently provide lurid details of his sexual escapades. He is also accused of criticizing women for wearing dresses that weren’t “tight enough” and forced a woman “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 also alleged that men in the workplace knew of Wieseltier’s behavior, yet did nothing about it.
Additionally, The Atlantic reports that some women had what they called “Leon stories” involving “everything from being called ‘sweetie’ in the workplace to unwanted touching, kissing, groping, and other sexual advances” and that there were rumors at The New Republic that Wieseltier frequently “bragged graphically about sexual encounters the way a teenaged boy might.” Former New Republic editor Michelle Cottle told The Atlantic that Wieseltier “delights in making women sexually uncomfortable.”
Wieseltier has a lengthy resume in the field of writing and commentating, having spent 30 years as the literary editor of The New Republic and is a current contributor to The Atlantic. He is now the latest person to be hit by the #MeToo movement of women sharing their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.