The chief content officer for American Media Inc. has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple former employees, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Dylan Howard, who also serves as editor-in-chief of The National Enquirer and oversees the newsrooms for AMI properties RadarOnline.com, Star, and Us Weekly, is alleged to have repeatedly made sexually inappropriate comments to staff, commented on a female employee’s sex life, and forced staff members to watch pornographic materials of no reported news value. Some of the accusations were included in a 2012 internal inquiry into Howard’s behavior conducted by an outside investigator.
According to 12 former employees who spoke to the AP, Howard nicknamed himself “dildo” while running the AMI Los Angeles office. Maxine Page, a former senior editor at RadarOnline, said she complained to human resources about Howard’s behavior on behalf of two female reporters, who were not identified in the AP story. According to Page, Howard spoke openly in the newsroom about wanting to make a Facebook page for one of the reporter’s vaginas, and during one meeting, falsely claimed the reporter had slept with a source and commended her for doing “what you need” to get a story.
“He encouraged her to have sex with people for information,” Page said.
Liz Crokin, another former reporter, alleged that Howard once asked her whether she was “going to be walking the streets tonight” when she wore heels to the office.
Cam Stracher, the outside lawyer who conducted the 2012 inquiry, confirmed that some of the allegations were part of his inquiry, but said that he did not find any serious wrongdoing. He said Howard had told him the Facebook incident, for example, never happened. “It was determined that there was some what you would call as horsing around outside the office, going to bars and things that are not uncommon in the media business,” Stracher said, “but none of it rose to the level of harassment that would require termination.”
Nevertheless, Howard left AMI shortly after the investigation was completed to serve as the editor-in-chief of Celebuzz.com. One year later, he returned to AMI with a promotion and new role overseeing the company’s New York office. It’s not clear whether he ever faced any disciplinary actions, or if he has faced further allegations since being rehired.
In a brief telephone statement to the AP, Howard called the allegations “baseless.”
Last month, The New Yorker published a set of emails Howard sent to former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein detailing what appeared to be an effort on the editor’s behalf to undermine a number of women who accused Weinstein of sexual assault, including dispatching a reporter to dig up dirt on actress Rose McGowan.