The first two years of the Trump presidency were a boom time for political books, and one of the boomiest was the deal announced in September 2017 in which the New York Times’ star White House reporters, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, would write an insider’s account of the Trump presidency for Random House. The publisher didn’t release the size of the advance, but it was rumored to be huge, and for good reason: Haberman and Thrush were teammates writing the most agenda-setting coverage of the administration and the president.
Two years later, the book is no longer happening. Thrush was kicked off the project by the publisher after being accused of sexual misconduct. He was suspended from his job covering the White House for the Times following an internal investigation at the paper. “Random House is planning to move forward with the book, but it will not be with Glenn Thrush attached,” a spokesperson for the publisher told the New York Times in December 2017.
The incident didn’t slow Thrush down much: He was later reinstated in a different job in which he wouldn't be covering the White House, and was recently given a high-profile role covering the 2020 campaign. And, as the Washington Post reported last year, he got to keep the portion of the book advance he had received because Random House dropped him from the project.
Haberman, however, paid a price. According to two sources familiar with the situation, after a period of limbo and attempts to salvage the project, she decided not to do the book after losing her writing partner — and then had to give her share of the advance back to the publisher. Haberman recently confirmed in a Q&A with readers on the Times website that she was no longer working on the book.
The situation offers a glimpse at an unanticipated intersection of a high-profile #MeToo case and the unsentimental business of media. In many typical book deals, Thrush would have had a clear legal claim to keep his advance, and Random House would have had a legal right to claw back Haberman’s after she decided not to do the book. But the outcome was that perhaps the most prominent woman journalist in the United States paid a literal price for a male colleague’s alleged transgressions.
After Random House dropped Thrush from the book, there were brief discussions about finding a replacement coauthor to work with Haberman. Those attempts ultimately did not work out.
Thrush was accused of sexual misconduct in a widely read Vox article. Four younger women in the media industry, including the author of the piece, accused Thrush of unwanted sexual advances. The New York Times conducted an investigation, eventually suspending Thrush.
In December 2017, the paper announced that Thrush would be reinstated but not covering the White House. Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, said at the time that Thrush “behaved in ways that we do not condone” but that the paper “decided that he does not deserve to be fired.” Thrush came back to work as a reporter covering poverty and government, and was recently given a senior job on the political investigations team doing "Long Runs and other investigative pieces on the candidates and the campaign," the paper announced last month.
Haberman, meanwhile, has continued in her role covering the White House.
Haberman and Thrush declined to comment.
“It's not a Times issue and not something we would comment on,” said New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy.
Random House did not return requests for comment.