Former Bloomberg reporter Christie Smythe was the talk of Twitter Sunday after a story about her decision to give up her husband and her job for convicted “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli went viral.
In Elle’s “The Journalist and the Pharma Bro,” Smythe told journalist Stephanie Clifford how she “fell down the rabbit hole” while covering Shkreli’s 2017 trial after he was charged with defrauding investors. “I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose.” The Elle story details how she covered him first for Bloomberg, then for a potential book or movie, and admitted she was in love with him after he was incarcerated, leaving behind her husband, job and “perfect little Brooklyn life.”
The end of the story revealed that Shkreli stopped communicating with her from prison after learning she was going public about their relationship. Due to coronavirus safety protocols in federal prisons, the two had not seen each other in over a year, according to the story.
On Twitter, where she now regularly posts about the conditions faced by incarcerated people, Smythe wrote, “Going public is such a relief, no matter what people think. You have no idea how hard it is to keep this kind of a story bottled up. So messy and complicated. I’m glad it was told well.”
In May, a federal judge denied Shkreli’s request for early release from prison because of the coronavirus. His lawyers revealed he had a fiancée who would house him in her Manhattan apartment to work on a supposed COVID-19 cure while he served out his sentence. In the Elle story, Smythe said she and Shkreli consider themselves “life partners.”
As Smythe and Shkreli trended on the site Sunday night, she interacted with people who had questions or thoughts about her decisions, including the one to tell her story to Elle magazine.
She retweeted Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller, who wrote, “I’ve known @ChristieSmythe quite a while now, since hiring her at the @tucsonstar in 2007. You know what? I trust her to make her own decisions, whether it be in her personal life or participating in this self-revealing story by @stephcliff.”
Smythe also continued to advocate for inmates’ conditions and treatment Sunday night as she had more eyes on her page than usual.
Smythe’s relationship with Shrekli had gotten so personal that after he was taken from a courtroom to prison unexpectedly, she began reaching out to friends to coordinate his personal affairs before she filed her article on the imprisonment. She quit Bloomberg in 2018 after a meeting in which she was reprimanded for her “unprofessional” tweets about Shkreli; a Bloomberg News spokesperson told Elle, “Ms. Smythe’s conduct with regard to Mr. Shkreli was not consistent with expectations for a Bloomberg journalist.”
A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for additional comment Monday morning.