Fish Resigns from New Republic, Takes Leave at Library (Updated)

Fallout from ‘me too’ reaches Highlands

By Chip Rowe

The fallout from the “me too” movement sparked by the resignation of film producer Harvey Weinstein amid allegations of sexual misconduct has reached the Highlands.

On Nov. 3, Hamilton Fish, who has a home in Garrison and whose family has been prominent in Philipstown for more than a century, resigned as president and publisher of The New Republic following complaints by female employees at the left-leaning political magazine. Fish had held the position since February 2016. He had taken a leave of absence on Oct. 30.

“As I understand it, some employees, to my deep dismay, complained this week that my presence had led them to feel uncomfortable at The New Republic,” he wrote to the magazine’s owner, Win McCormack. “It’s my sense that our office culture has been harmed, and the best way for me to help the organization move past this is by withdrawing…. Women have longstanding and profound concerns with respect to their treatment in the workplace. Many men have a lot to learn in this regard. I know I do.”

Fish, 65, known as “Ham,” is the longtime chair of the Board of Trustees of the Alice Curtis Desmond and Hamilton Fish Library in Garrison, which was founded by his grandparents. He also serves on the board of Riverkeeper.

On Nov. 2, after a meeting held the day before, the Desmond-Fish board announced in a statement that Fish would step down there, as well.

“The Board of Trustees of the Desmond-Fish Library, with regret, has accepted the request of Ham Fish for a leave of absence from his duties as president and trustee, following 24 years of distinguished service to the library and the community it serves,” it read. “The library will continue to be governed in accordance with its bylaws and mission of service. The Desmond-Fish Library is an equal opportunity employer and has long maintained a strong policy against discrimination or harassment.”

Hamilton Fish interviewed actor and author Candace Bergen at the Desmond-Fish Library’s annual fundraising dinner in May. (File photo by Lori Moss)

A Riverkeeper spokesman, Cliff Weathers, said: “We will follow the inquiry being undertaken by The New Republic. As always, Riverkeeper will honor its commitments and obligations to our staff, volunteers and external partners.”

Reached by email on Nov. 1, Fish said he had been asked not to comment while The New Republic reviewed his status. He told The New York Times in an email that he resigned because he felt the controversy would derail the progress being made at the magazine but that he had not yet been told the details of the grievances. A reporter for Deadline Hollywood wrote that Fish emailed him on Oct. 30: “Classic takedown underway. We’ll see.”

A number of prominent media executives have lost their jobs after being accused of misconduct, including the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes, a former Garrison resident; Bill O’Reilly of Fox News; former New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier; Mark Halperin of MSNBC; and, most recently, Michael Oreskes, a former top editor at The New York Times.

Fish was appointed president and publisher of The New Republic after Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who also has a home in Garrison, sold the magazine to McCormack, owner of the literary journal Tin House.

In a letter to the staff of the magazine, McCormack wrote: “I have been made aware that a number of employees have come forward in the last few days to express concern about certain workplace interactions that have created an uncomfortable environment for them. As I understand them, these concerns relate specifically to interactions between Ham Fish and a number of women employees.”

Fish had long been associated with The Nation, working to rescue it in 1977, and serving as publisher until 1987. From 1995 to 2009, he was president of the Nation Institute. He also produces documentary films.

His father, Hamilton Fish Jr., served as a Republican in the U.S. House from 1969 to 1994. His grandfather, who was born in Garrison in 1888 and lived to be 102, was a Republican congressman from 1920 to 1944. The first, and best known, Hamilton Fish was elected as a Whig to Congress in 1842 and then served as governor of New York and in the U.S. Senate before being appointed Secretary of State under President Ulysses S. Grant.

Ham Fish ran for Congress in 1988 and 1994 as a Democrat in Westchester County but lost. In the 1988 race, his grandfather famously supported his grandson’s Republican opponent.

7 thoughts on “Fish Resigns from New Republic, Takes Leave at Library (Updated)

  1. To introduce these allegations as “fallout from the ‘me too’ movement” is deeply offensive. These allegations are serious and are fallout from the alleged bad acts of this individual. Your characterization of them as part of some movement undermines and disrespects the issues at hand, and suggests a lack of neutrality and seriousness in your reporting.

    • The paper did the right thing to portray as allegations, how more neutral can that be? That they linked that to the larger discussion going on in every household now is definitely related to the “Me Too” discussion happening now and is to everyone’s benefit. Allegations are just that, and is this paper to go beyond that? The PCNR will take care of that.

      • I suppose the best way to judge the paper’s neutrality is to compare the coverage (text, photos, etc.) of this story vs. that of the allegations against Mr. Ailes. I’m sure any objective observer will see that the paper’s coverage is perfectly fair.

  2. To expand on Kim’s point, the first sentence reads as blaming Fish’s resignation on the women who spoke out about their experiences with harassment. “Fallout” is defined as adverse side effects or results from a situation. The first sentence equates Fish’s resignation as ‘fallout’ – implying that it’s an adverse result of #MeToo, when really, the fallout (his resignation) occurred as a result of his alleged inappropriate behavior.

    Here’s a better sentence to lead the story: “A Highlands man has come forward and resigned as fallout from his alleged inappropriate behavior toward women at his place of employment.”

    • Your new “lead” removes all context from the story, as if the media executives who have resigned just had an epiphany one day and stepped down. If there were no public complaints, no one would have resigned. In fact, that was the status quo for decades.

      Chip Rowe
      Managing Editor

      • If it removes all context from the story, why was “#MeToo” only mentioned once? I’m not saying that the “#MeToo” movement wasn’t the impetus for him stepping down — it was. What I’m saying is that your lead sentence implies that him stepping down was ‘fallout’ from the MeToo movement. No, it wasn’t. The MeToo movement prompted him to step down because women felt empowered to speak up against him. The fallout of his alleged behavior was him deciding to step down.

        Another suggestion: “A Highlands man has come forward and resigned as fallout from his alleged inappropriate behavior toward women at his place of employment. Many women have spoken up about sexual harassment in the workplace and in their personal lives as evidenced by the #MeToo movement, which started after the resignation of film producer Harvey Weinstein amid allegations of sexual misconduct.”

        And yes, you’re right. These dirtbags wouldn’t have stepped up and resigned on their own had they not be pressured by the MeToo movement. Fish and Weinstein, and Spacey and Affleck, Bush and Besh, Savino and Price…on and on… Their resignations, however, are not fallouts of MeToo — they are victories from the MeToo movement.

  3. I agree with the comments made by your other readers. Leading with “the fallout from the #metoo movement” shows a clear bias toward Mr. Fish and not the women he allegedly harassed at work or the other women who have shown incredible bravery to speak out publicly, many for the first time, to describe horrific, life-altering sexual assaults and taunts. In fact, the whole article reads as a nostalgic bio of a good old boy who got taken down unfairly by a group of pesky women wanting justice and the right to be treated with dignity.