The Huffington Post, old feminist faithful, was apparently not as friendly to women as it likes to pretend it is, and was guilty of allowing sexual assaults to occur to female staff members according to a recent tell all report.
What’s more is that Arianna Huffington knew all about it.
According to Gizmodo, Huffington was only too proud to welcome Jimmy Soni as head of the news room in 2012. Huffington reportedly considered Soni “one of her most trusted lieutenants” and elevated him to the position of managing editor after having no editorial experience, and only nine months as her chief of staff.
Naturally, Soni ran HuffPo into the dirt, but Soni was dirty in other ways too.
According to Gizmodo, in 2014, Huffington abruptly announced that Soni would be taking over at HuffPo India out of New Delhi. This seemed more like a banishment than a promotion, and as a Gawker article would later expose, it actually was a banishment, but a very quiet one on Huffington’s part.
Not publicly known at that time was why Soni was suddenly being sent abroad and away from the newsroom. A few months later Gawker revealed that the transfer was likely the result of an HR investigation into whether Soni was sexually harassing young women while he oversaw the newsroom.
…A former employee with direct knowledge of the investigation not only independently confirmed that the investigation was indeed the reason for Soni’s transfer, but that Huffington “100 percent knew” about Soni’s actions before they were reported to HR. Another employee in a senior leadership role at that time also confirmed Huffington’s direct knowledge of Soni’s harassing behavior before she sent out the memo, in which Huffington called it a “dream of Jimmy’s, as both his parents were born and raised there.” Huffington also noted in the memo that it was great for the company that Soni would be the one spearheading such a significant launch.
Gizmodo reports that Soni would select predominately white, blond girls for HuffPo’s Editorial Fellows program, and joke that he was using it to try to find himself a wife. Soni reportedly would try to kiss or make-out with various girls on the staff. Another woman says Soni would would flirt with her over Facebook messages after hours, and found out the he would do so with other women on staff as well.
She noted the disproportionate power dynamic, given Soni was in part responsible for determining who among the fellows would be hired full time. Her Huffington Post fellowship was her first job out of college, and she remembers feeling confused as to why the editor of the entire newsroom was sending her flirty messages. She said that he was allegedly communicating with a number of other fellows in the same manner he was with her, and had also done so in the past. Another former Huffington Post employee, who was an 18-year-old intern at the time, confirmed that she had an ongoing consensual sexual relationship with Soni, who was not only her superior but, as managing editor, a member of Huffington’s senior leadership team.
Soni’s behavior over Facebook became more frequent and evolved to the point of asking his female staff out for drinks during big hiring decisions. Soni’s behavior was brought to the attention of the higher ups, who pushed the problem onto HuffPo’s HR.
Apparently, Huffington didn’t either want to deal with the problem, or didn’t care:
The source with knowledge of the investigation said that Huffington didn’t want to deal with Soni’s behavior, so she left it to HR. “She didn’t handle it in a good way,” they said, adding that “HR protected Arianna and the company more than the employees.”
According to the former employees, Huffington never sat down with the fellows to discuss what happened, nor did she issue an apology for Soni’s behavior.
“Do I think she is a truly feminist advocate? No. By no means,” one former employee told Gizmodo.