Political reporter Ryan Lizza fired by The New Yorker for misconduct

Image: Ryan Lizza
Ryan Lizza attends The 2009 New Yorker Festival: The Political Scene at City Winery on October 17, 2009 in New York.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for The New Yorker file

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By Claire Atkinson

Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent of The New Yorker, was fired on Monday by the magazine, which said he had engaged in improper sexual conduct.

Lizza became the latest high-profile journalist to lose his job in the torrent of misconduct allegations, which were partially unleashed by The New Yorker itself. The magazine was one of the first to break the news of harassment allegations made against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct," the magazine said in a statement. "We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further."

Ryan Lizza attends The 2009 New Yorker Festival: The Political Scene at City Winery on October 17, 2009 in New York.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for The New Yorker file

Lizza disputed the magazine's decision almost immediately, issuing a statement that described a complaint made by one woman.

"I am dismayed that the New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I was dating as somehow inappropriate," he said. "The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated. I am sorry to my friends, workplace colleagues, and loved ones for any embarrassment this episode may cause."

He said he had the highest regard for his colleagues, but described the magazine's decision as "a terrible mistake," made hastily and without "a full investigation of the relevant facts."

The woman mentioned by Lizza remains anonymous, but her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, sharply disagreed with Lizza's description of the circumstances.

"In no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship,' as he has now tried to characterize it," Wigdor said in a statement. "Our client reported Mr. Lizza’s actions to ensure that he would be held accountable and in the hope that by coming forward she would help other potential victims."

Lizza was also suspended by CNN, where he is an on-air contributor. "We have just learned of The New Yorker's decision," the network said. "We are suspending Ryan Lizza from CNN while we look into this matter." Georgetown University in Washington, where Lizza taught a class in American Politics and the Media, said it was also severing its relationship with Lizza, at least for the upcoming semester.

Lizza was The New Yorker's Washington correspondent between 2007 and 2017, according to his biography on the magazine's website. He also wrote for many years for The New Republic.

He is best known for conducting the expletive-filled phone interview with the former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, in which Scaramucci blasted colleagues Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, leading to his forced departure after just 11 days in the White House job.

In addition to Lizza, a string of political journalists and commentators have either been suspended or fired after becoming embroiled in accusations of sexual misconduct. They include: Glenn Thrush of The New York Times, Charlie Rose of PBS, Michael Oreskes, NPR's head of news, Mark Halperin, a political commentator for NBC, and Matt Lauer, an anchor of "Today" on NBC.