Fellow members of the British media, however, seem to deserve less of the UK-based paper’s scrutiny, according to a damning New York Times report.
Financial Times editor Madison Marriage and her team led a monthslong investigation into the resignation of Guardian columnist Nick Cohen, who her reporting showed left the paper after a sexual-misconduct investigation. According to the Times, however, the Financial Times spiked the story, arguing Cohen did not have a large enough profile to warrant an “F.T. story.”
The axing of Marriage’s story led The New York Times to conduct its own investigation, speaking to multiple women who accused Cohen of sexual misconduct. One then-editorial assistant, Lucy Siegle, said Cohen grabbed her behind as she stood at a photocopier in 2001, with five other women saying he did the same at different bars. Another woman, an unpaid copy editor, said he repeatedly offered to send nude photos to her as recently as 2018.
Cohen, who wrote a left-wing column for the Guardian’s sister publication The Observer, resigned in January on “health grounds” in a public statement. He told the Times he was surprised that multiple women had come forward, but he did not directly address any specific accusation. He instead cited his past alcohol addiction as a cause for any misbehavior.
“I have written at length about my alcoholism. I went clean seven years ago in 2016,” he told the Times. “I look back on my addicted life with deep shame.”
But as the Times independently looked into Cohen’s alleged misconduct, it also revealed why the Financial Times story never went to print.
Marriage is a veteran reporter who has repeatedly covered subjects who’v e faced serious scrutiny—and, at times, charges—for sexual misconduct. She was named special investigations editor in September and had her reporting into abuses of power highlighted by Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf in a 2022 year-end note to the newsroom, according to the Times. Her investigations, Khalaf noted, would be a priority for 2023.
However, Khalaf seemed determined to steer Marriage away from focusing on British media, according to the Times. She ordered Marriage to not speak to new sources for her Cohen investigation, and when Marriage filed her story in February, Khalaf said she would only run it if it was filed to the opinions desk. Marriage obliged, but Khalaf still did not let the story run.
It was ultimately unclear why the Financial Times did not run the investigation, particularly as the outlet has not shied away from highlighting sexual improprieties in other sectors like technology and the lobbying industry. Some FT employees suggested to the Times that the paper was hesitant in turning the spotlight inward on the British media.
The Financial Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement to the Times, a spokesperson noted that “some reporting leads to published stories and some not.”
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