Fired NY Post Editor Says Boss Sexually Harassed Her, Was Verbally Abusive, and Demanded She Delete a Negative Story About Trump


Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The former top editor of the New York Post’s website, who was fired last week, in a new lawsuit accuses the paper’s longtime editor in chief Col Allan of “years of sex-based harassment” — including propositions for sex, extensive verbal abuse, and a demand she delete a story on a rape allegation against Donald Trump.

Michelle Gotthelf worked at the Post for more than two decades, and rose the ranks to editor in chief of the tabloid’s website. Her lawsuit, which was first reported by the New York Times, was filed the week after she was fired from the Post.

According to the lawsuit, Allan propositioned Gotthelf for sex in 2015 when he was top editor of the Post, telling her “We should sleep together.”

The alleged request for sex “was the culmination of several years of sex-based harassment that Ms. Gotthelf had to endure because, according to Mr. Allan, Ms. Gotthelf reminded him of his wife,” the suit states.

The complaint alleges that Allan was verbally abusive, once telling Gotthelf to “get the fuck out,” and that he degraded women generally as “skanks,” “stupid women,” and even called one as a “sneaky lesbian.”

Read the full lawsuit here.

A spokesperson for the Post told Mediaite in a statement: “Any suggestion of wrongdoing related to the management changes announced today is meritless.”

The suit says the harassment began in 2013. Gotthelf says she lodged complaints with Post leadership repeatedly, and was told each time that nothing could be done, and that alerting management “only made things worse.”

Allan, one of Rupert Murdoch’s top deputies, retired from the Post in 2016 and returned to Australia. The suit claims he was forced into retirement by Gottfeld’s allegations.

But Col would return to the Post in 2019, this time as an “adviser.” As the New York Times notes, he was more than that — he effectively ran the newsroom.

Gotthelf was told that Allan was only returning as a “consultant” and that she would not report to him. Allan, however, became a “de facto supervisor,” the suit states — and a “threatening” and “abusive” one at that.

In 2019, when the Post covered E. Jean Carroll’s allegation of rape against then-President Trump, Allan allegedly demanded that Gotthelf delete the story. She refused, and complained to HR as well as News Corp. CEO Robert Thompson.

When Gotthelf said she was not supposed to be reporting to Allan, she was allegedly told that if Allan “tells you to do something, you do it.”

CNN had previously reported in 2019 that Allan, a Trump supporter, ordered the deletion of the Post report on Carroll’s rape allegation.

In 2021, the Post hired a new editor in chief, British tabloid veteran Keith Poole. In November, according to the complaint, Gotthelf told Poole about the alleged harassment.

Two months later, Gotthelf was fired.

Douglas Wigdor, the high-profile attorney representing Gotthelf in the suit — which names both Allan and Poole as defendants — said in a statement to Mediaite that the paper’s treatment of his client is “appalling.”

“The New York Post’s unlawful treatment of its top female editor after twenty-plus years of service is nothing short of appalling,” he said. “Moreover, the Post’s decision to rehire Col Allan after he sexually propositioned Ms. Gotthelf speaks volumes about exactly the type of newsroom News Corp is running. We intend to aggressively move forward with holding the Post accountable and protecting Ms. Gotthelf’s rights.”

Wigdor has represented a series of clients that sued Fox News for harassment, including accusers of Bill O’Reilly and Ed Henry.

This isn’t the first time Allan’s name has graced a harassment lawsuit. In 2009, fired editor Sandra Guzman accused the Post of sexual harassment and racism, and said her ouster was an act of retaliation.

Mediaite reported at the time that her complaint described Allan as a “sexually aggressive and crude alpha-male, known for propositioning employees and even allegedly showing women pictures of a naked man on his cellphone.”

This story has been updated with further information.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor in Chief of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin