Globe editor accused of sending sexually suggestive text

Former reporter posts exchange on Twitter that she said was with McGrory

A FORMER REPORTER for the Boston Globe is claiming Brian McGrory, the paper’s current editor, sent her an unsolicited, sexually suggestive text.

Hilary Sargent, who started at the Globe in 1999 as a 19-year-old intern before leaving and being recruited back 15 years later, posted an undated text message on Twitter on Monday that she says came from McGrory. The context was unclear, but Sargent appeared to be seeking advice about a story she was writing.

“I imagine there are people who can sit down and with enough time just write something,” Sargent wrote in her text. “But I need a draft and then a day and then I’ll add something and then a day and so on. I need time but only time if I start with a draft.”

“Got it,” the person responded. “What do you generally wear when you write?”

“Seriously?” Sargent responded.

“Well, not entirely,” the other person sent back.

Sargent, who declined to comment when contacted by CommonWealth, did not initially identify McGrory as the person in the dialogue and the screen grab she posted does not identify the sender. But in a series of subsequent tweets, she said McGrory was the author and indicated it was not the only time she received uninvited suggestive messages from male employees at the Globe.

“It never occurs to men like @GlobeMcGrory (see text) that we actually *are* looking for advice about WRITING, that maybe we don’t want to be asked what we are wearing while we write, that maybe we want to work, to be journalists,” Sargent wrote. “And yes, in case it isn’t clear, I mean @GlobeMcGrory texted this to me.”

A screen grab of a text allegedly sent by Globe editor Brian McGrory to former reporter Hilary Sargent.

McGrory declined to comment when contacted and Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Globe’s managing director, and Vinay Mehra, the paper’s president, did not return calls or emails for comment. A spokeswoman for the Globe said in an email, “We are aware of Hilary Sargeant’s [sic] tweets. We have no comment at this time.”

It is not Sargent’s first accusation against the Globe, which has been at the forefront locally of covering sexual harassment allegations in the #MeToo movement, or its staffers. Last fall, when the Globe forced State House reporter Jim O’Sullivan to resign for sending sexually suggestive texts to State House insiders, Sargent sent out a series of tweets critical of a Globe story on sexual harassment for not putting more focus on its internal problems beyond O’Sullivan.

Sargent has said in earlier tweets she was the victim of sexual harassment by an older editor when she was a young student intern at the Globe. She has, over the past few months, sent out scores of tweets excoriating the Globe and its hierarchy for pointing the fingers at others without taking a close examination of itself.

Sargent started the highly acclaimed ChartGirl website, which had been named one of the “50 Best Websites” by Time magazine and has been featured in a number of media outlets such as Reuters and The Atlantic, before being coaxed back to the Globe. Some Globe staffers have said privately and on social media that Sargent is embittered for being suspended from Boston.com, a site run by the Globe, for an incident involving her derisive social media attacks on a Harvard professor in 2014. But she returned to the website after a brief suspension and stayed on for several years after that. She left in 2016.

It is unclear when McGrory allegedly sent the text to Sargent but a tweet she sent out seemed to indicate at first it was an older message. But in a Twitter exchange with Stephanie Ebbert, the Globe’s reporter on gender issues, a beat that includes writing about workplace harassment, Sargent said she was a victim 20 years ago and it continued through her alleged interactions with McGrory later.

“Sometimes, it takes 20 years to do what you’ve got to do,” Sargent wrote, apparently referring to the incident with the older editor when she was a co-op student.

Ebbert confronted Sargent over the confusion. Some of Ebbert’s tweets, which drew criticism from a number of users who took umbrage at what they perceived as attacking a victim, have since been deleted.

“Bait, bait, bait,” Ebbert tweeted in a response to Sargent. “I am just questioning your chronology, which confused me.”

“Your beat is GENDER ISSUES,” Sargent responded. “Step 1 isn’t questioning the chronology – though I’m happy to explain it. Step 1 is reaching out, asking to talk, not suggesting I’m somehow suggesting this was a text exchange from 20 years ago. I mean, call me, ask me anything. But don’t do this.”

In one of her tweets, Sargent urged other victims at the Globe to come forward and also put out a word of caution to students who are filling her old position.

“To every aspiring female journalist walking into a summer internship in the coming weeks, I’m telling you: Don’t put up with this shit. Not when you’re 19, not when you’re 39,” she wrote.