Tonya Harding is short a publicist. On Thursday, Michael Rosenberg, Harding’s longtime publicist and agent, quit his post as Harding’s rep. Per USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, in a Facebook post titled, “I, Tonya, is Now Goodbye, Tonya!,” Rosenberg detailed why, after Harding made a request that every reporter who asked about the past be fined a hefty sum of $25,000, he could no longer represent her.
“Unfortunately, we reached an impasse today, regarding how to treat the press in the future” he wrote. “Her adamant and final position is that reporters must sign an affidavit stating that they won’t ask her anything ‘about the past’ or they’ll be fined $25,000. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way; and therefore I’ve chosen to terminate our business relationship.” Vanity Fair has attempted to contact Rosenberg to confirm this account.
Rosenberg supported Harding even during the worst of it. He had been her publicist just before January 1994, when the infamous incident in which a man associated with Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, clubbed her competitor and fellow Olympic team member, Nancy Kerrigan, on the kneecap at skating practice. In a 2014 profile in the Albuquerque Journal, Rosenberg recalled that time.
“I went on Nightline and Crossfire and all the TV shows at the time,” he said. “There were trucks with big dishes in front of my house. Everybody wanted to know, ‘Did she do it?’ I was the only one out there who said I don’t believe that Tonya did it . . . There’s no evidence she conspired.”
Rosenberg’s decision to leave Harding came just one day after Taffy Brodesser-Akner’sprofile of Harding was published in The New York Times on Wednesday, and in the midst of the awards campaign for I, Tonya, in which Margot Robbie plays Harding. (Robbie and Allison Janney both won Critics’ Choice Awards for the film on Thursday night). In Akner’s piece, Harding placed heavy blame on the media for the abuse she got during her figure-skating career, when she, often portrayed as the ugly duckling, was pitted against other female skaters like Kerrigan. “The media abused me in the first place,” she told Akner.
“Where were our think pieces then?” Akner wrote, before quoting Harding: “You all disrespected me and it hurt. I’m a human being and it hurt my heart.”
Rosenberg finishes his note by saying that he’s glad the movie, which puts into context Harding’s abuse both as a child and in her relationship, as well her socioeconomic status, put forth “a new positive image for her in the public eye. And I sincerely wish her the best.”