Vice Media Suspends Producer Over 'Toxic Sexual-Harassment Culture' Reports

Bryan Michalek | November 16, 2017

The Daily Beast recently published the collected testimonies of several Vice Media employees, both former and current, that alleged a culture of sexual harassment at the outlet.

Speaking primarily with former associate producer Phoebe Barghouty, The Daily Beast was able to follow a trail of serious sexual misconduct and malfeasance from several high ranking members of the media giant.

Getting a job offer from Vice would have been a dream come true to many left-leaning young professionals vying for a seat at the company's table. But like Hollywood, and many of the other institutions crumbling from the actions of predators, Vice had its own problems. 

In speaking with TDB, Barghouty claimed her higher-up, Navy SEAL-turned-renowned journalist Kaj Larsen, got drunk and fell asleep in her car after discussing his chances with a sexual encounter with some women before she had even started working. 

Barghouty said that Larsen had led her to several "unusual interactions" and had touched her at work "on the small of the back, on her bare thigh -- in ways that he didn't touch other employees." according to TDB. 

Initially, Barghouty calmed herself thinking that the behavior might have been "just how people are in L.A.," but eventually decided that things were going to far. After accompanying Larsen to several parties and not doing much actual work, she decided to speak with an HR rep to discuss the situation. 

She then alleged that the rep told her, "When it comes to talent, we can't really tell them what to do," and that "They bring in the money and attention and you just have to deal with it." The rep later denied both statements, according to The Daily Beast's report. 

Barghouty remained with the company and kept her complaints to herself until after a phone meeting Larsen allegedly grabbed her arm and said: 

"If you're going to get anywhere with Vice guys, you're going to have to be a lot sweeter." 

Barghouty recounted that she felt threatened and scared. 

"I didn't want my career to be built on how sweet I am to men at Vice," she said.

Following the incident, Barghouty said she made a few more failed attempts at establishing the importance of her allegations, including a discouraging conversation with Nancy Ashbrooke who had previously been president of HR at Miramax. 

Vice's documentary unit executive producer Jason Mojica has been suspended after being named among the harassers.

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