On Friday, the Detroit Free Press announced they had terminated the employment of longtime journalist Stephen Henderson. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist and Editorial Page Editor had been with the paper for 18 years and was summarily dismissed after an internal investigation found “inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues stretching back several years.”
The Freep made it clear that there were no accusations nor evidence of sexual assault. Earlier this morning, Henderson addressed his firing in the following statement:
The paper’s apparent quick rush to judgement here had me thinking over the weekend about the nature of some of these recent sexual harassment matters. Why some folks like Henderson get axed and others appear to get off scot-free.
For example, the Lions hosted the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on Saturday. The game was broadcast by the NFL Network and Ann Arbor resident Mike Tirico had the play-by-play assignment.
Tirico has led a charmed existence in the sports media world over the last three decades — rising from an ESPN talking head to “Monday Night Football” to a lucrative contract at NBC where he is the heir apparent to replace Al Michaels on “Sunday Night Football” and where he will be the Peacock Network’s face for the Olympics.
But anyone who read James Miller’s 2011 book on ESPN knew all about Tirico’s issues with sexual harassment while at the World Wide Leader. Here are some passages about Tirico’s inappropriate conduct in Bristol ….
Tirico was basically labeled the biggest perv at ESPN, which is like being called the most radicalized member of ISIS. Tirico was suspended for THREE MONTHS and some at the company thought it was “laughably insufficient.”
Yet while Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose and ex-NBC host Matt Lauer are all unemployed, Tirico will be introducing competitive speed skating from Pyeongchang in February.
Which leads us to today’s subject. Why is a well-respected, award-winning journalist like Henderson out at the Freep while Anthony Fenech is still gainfully employed as the paper’s Tigers beat writer?????
It has now been three years since I wrote an article about Fenech sexually harassing a co-worker at CMLife.com while he was working at the the Central Michigan University newspaper back in 2010.
Fenech knew the co-worker was in a serious relationship with another guy, but that didn’t stop him from sending disturbing Facebook messages ……
I wanted to hook up with you
when can we make this happen
what if i love you
i tried putting you in a relationship with me
your boyfriend is ugly
i know you feel cool that i creep on you
let me remind you that i was writing for the paper you interned for last year when i was 12
because i am a beast
But that wasn’t the extent of Fenech’s harassment. Once the woman blocked Fenech for the inappropriate comments, the “Beast” went on her blog and continued his harassment once he was blocked from sending direct messages on Facebook …
After comparing the woman’s boyfriend to Eric Stoltz’s disfigured character in the movie “Mask,” he then proceeded to claim she was committing “statuatory rape.” Once again, these posts occurred AFTER Fenech clearly knew the victim didn’t want to have ANYTHING to do with him.
Fenech’s behavior at Central Michigan wasn’t relegated to this incident though. I spoke to another female student there who alleged that Fenech stalked her even though she claimed Fenech knew she was in a relationship as well.
This disturbing behavior culminated in Fenech sending a single-spaced, double-sided letter of around ten pages to this fellow student whom he barely knew. The manifesto so frightened this woman that she gave it to her boyfriend (now husband) — who was studying to become a police offer — as evidence if the creepy behavior esacalated.
I am told that they still have the letter in question.
There have been other instances as well, including Fenech allegedly hitting on a female patron at a Downriver bar in front of her spouse — which led to the Freep sports writer getting knocked out.
And finally, Fenech allegedly was involved in a workplace affair with Stefanie Murray when she was at the Free Press. This supposedly led to Murray getting shipped down to Nashville to work at The Tennessean.
Apparently, Fenech and Murray didn’t know that it was “frowned upon” to have sexual relations in the parking garage at work.
So, while a man who won the most prestigious award possible for commentary is out at the Freep, a habitual harasser of women still is covering the Detroit Tigers.
This is the SAME paper that never admitted they had a plagiarizer (Drew Sharp) on their staff. Because I am told, their parent company (Gannett) wouldn’t allow staff in Detroit to acknowledge Sharp’s journalistic malfeasance.
But Gannett sure seemed in a rush to get rid of Stephen Henderson.
And if I were him, I would be pissed.
And I would hire a lawyer.
If only the DSR had “caught” him first. Henderson might have been able to keep his job (albeit while forced to wear the above Hat Of Shame).
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)