“I didn’t hide how much I interacted with him,” she told The Times. “I don’t really think I did anything wrong. I realize, in hindsight, maybe earlier I should have acted a little more proactively. But, honestly, I don’t think any harm was done.”
Bloomberg News said it had found no bias in Ms. Smythe’s coverage of Mr. Shkreli.
“Ms. Smythe’s conduct with regard to Mr. Shkreli was not consistent with expectations for a Bloomberg journalist,” a Bloomberg News spokesperson said. “It became apparent that it would be best to part ways. Ms. Smythe tendered her resignation, and we accepted it.”
Ms. Smythe said she had no regrets about how she had dealt with the ethically perilous issue of covering someone she had developed feelings for. “In journalism school, they don’t really tell you what to do when this comes up,” she said. “I just tried to muddle through it and handle things as best as I could.”
She added, “I hadn’t had a romantic relationship with him at the time. I hadn’t slept with him. I just cared about him. So it’s messy. How do you deal with that?”
Now, it seems, the relationship might be off. Ms. Smythe said she had last seen Mr. Shkreli in person in February, when she visited him in the Pennsylvania facility, before the pandemic flared in the United States.
“We were talking that day about me possibly doing something publicly, and he was in favor of it at the time,” she said. But then, she added, Mr. Shkreli “freaked out” when the possibility of her going public became more real. “He’s got a lot of kind of PTSD around media exposure,” Ms. Smythe said, “and he’s sort of attached to his villain image as a sort of a safe space.”
She had last spoken with him on the phone in the summer and said he no longer replied to her emails. Still, she said, she would wait for Mr. Shkreli, who is due for release in September 2023.
“I love him,” she said. “I’m here for him.”