Before I begin. It’s worth mention that some of the names listed here come from the “Shitty Media Men List” that was made after Weinstein’s story broke out. The original intent of the list was a group of women crowdsourcing a pool of knowledge together about the bad behaviors of media industry men. For the first few days, this group kept the list private among themselves. Then the list was on and offline for a few days.
According to the Buzzfeed article talking about “Shitty Media Men List” for the first time, it was launched by October 11th. Passed around via email. Between friends.
The primary flaw with this list is mentioned fairly early on (thank fuck). There’s a lack of distinction made in regards to the severity of actions mentioned within the list. To give a blunt hypothetical example: someone on the list could’ve raped a woman, while another dude might’ve simply made a lewd comment. The bar for admission to this list was low enough to accept both of these things as qualifiers.
But another important caveat is then brought up:
“But things do get complicated when you start lumping all of this behavior together in a big anonymous spreadsheet of unsubstantiated allegations against dozens of named men — who were not given the chance to respond — that, by Wednesday night, seemed to have spread far and wide. At various points on Wednesday, dozens of anonymous accounts were looking at the spreadsheet. This was by design; because of the way the document was structured it meant that anyone could look at it, download and share it, and so there was no way to know if they were all the intended female recipients. Several men who were on the spreadsheet had reached out to other staffers at BuzzFeed News because they had seen it.”
Word travels fast online.
A majority of the later paragraphs weigh the circumstances as they were. The author points out that like Hollywood, the media world required those employed within to network and make connections. That sort of practice shifts the favor against those who were victims to speak out. Before Weinstein, there came a long-term cost for that sort of thing. The Buzzfeed article closes by outlining the hypocrisy of media colleagues online. “The calls were coming from inside the house,” as outlets that were reporting on the Harvey scandal had people on staff guilty of sexual misbehavior.
The timing of its creation and the short window between that and when it became public knowledge is a problem. Remember the New York Times and The New Yorker spent several months looking into the Weinstein allegations and stories. Reporting on those kinds of situations is a serious task, and the weight of that responsibility to get it right was on the shoulders of reporters. The job of articulating these emotional experiences and sharing them with the rest of the world is daunting.
Damn it, Mike.
On October 16th Mike Cernovich offered $10,000 for this “Shitty Media Men” list people were talking about. Five days later he had it and was ready to publish the contents in full. Cernovich reportedly held back from just dumping the whole thing, according to Politico. This happened because his lawyer advised against going through with something like that. Still, the sonofabitch teased a little. Mike revealed that a former Gawker reporter Sam Biddle was named on this list. Cernovich picked an easy target. The safest bet.
“Inappropriate communication, harassment, inappropriate digital contact, sexual assault, followed someone into a bathroom and tried to masturbate in front of them,” were the list’s charges against Sam.
Despite Biddle’s established reputation already, it was still a shocker for the public to learn he allegedly choked his chicken in front of a colleague. I have to commend Mike for requesting comment from Biddle beforehand.
I’m torn on how to feel about the list itself and how Mike Cernovich talked to the public about it. On a basic level, he did indeed inform the public of things he believed were newsworthy. I know he had his reasons. Mike’s interest was natural, as he previously heard of journalists engaging in bad behaviors. Now in the time of Weinstein being brought to light that stuff he heard was being proven true.
In a time where people were still trying to fathom Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct, Mike Cernovich threw gasoline and made things into a full-blown hysteria. He himself acknowledges the fragile state of affairs at one point. I’m not saying that as a positive or negative thing here. But for the people who wanted a Salem witch hunt portion to all this, they got exactly that. It’s a matter of opinion whether or not a scorched earth strategy is the best option. The situation as it stood was an enthralling phenomenon to witness. People’s opinions were divided on how to cope with the fact Mike Cernovich was doing all this. Of course, media sites had the usual screeching. However, this blog post from October 27th talking about the list was “weaponized” describes the train of thought going on here. The blogger says the list was for defensive measures and not made to be a weapon to attack folks with. They argue that’s what was happening now. The taint of the far-right had hijacked things.
While the politicization factor was an inevitability. Yet the blog makes a valuable point about how Mike lost control here too. Things unfolded in such a way that the full list being circulated was bound to happen. People by nature have a lust for scandal and drama. Especially with media outlets in recent years.
In the end, fate decided to just hand over the goods and let society sort itself out. The Shitty Media Men List hit the public. Below is a collection of stories that surfaced in the chaotic aftermath. Of not just the Shitty Media Men List, but also general cases that came to light after seeing the Weinstein story. The fundamental issues going on surrounding Weinstein’s behaviors aren’t contained in Hollywood alone. Workplace sexual harassment and assault is able to unfold in any environment, no matter what casual or professional the circumstances.
A news media icon who served as the epitome of the informative and serious nature of journalism. To put it another way, you couldn’t find someone drier in their delivery than this. It came as a shock to find out the man notorious for putting people to sleep, had a jonesing for sleeping around.
On November 20th, eight women came forward to the Washington Post to speak about Charlie Rose. Three went on record, five were too afraid of Rose’s power he exerts in the media to do so. This divide is because of the flip-flop between love and anger Charlie Rose has in his interactions with women. Five said Rose put his hand on their legs and thighs to see how they’d react. Two of them testify to Rose getting nude while working and traveling with him. On top of the eight women, The Washington Post spoke with twenty-four former employees. Six said they saw harassment, while eight said they were uncomfortable with how Charlie Rose treated female staff.
Ten said they didn’t see anything unusual.
“He was always professional with me,” said a former assistant of Rose’s, Eleonore Marchand Mueller. “I never witnessed any unprofessional incidents.”
The Charlie Rose show itself started on PBS back in 1991. He expanded into CBS this morning by 2011, and he’s worked with 60 minutes for the past ten years. HR was limited help in the places where it was available. The small employee structure involved with working on the show made airing those types of complaints impossible. PBS, CBS, and Bloomberg all say they’ve got no records of sexual harassment allegations or complaints in regards to Charlie Rose.
Below are the three accounts of women staff who went on the record.
Reah Bravo was 29 in 2007. Barely keeping her head above water with all the debt she was building up during her internship. It was several months into this Charlie Rose offered her an internship gig.
“Here is the deal: I’ll pay you $2,500 for the week plus all expenses for food, movies etc.,” he wrote to her on Aug. 9, 2007. “You will be there from Monday August 13-Friday afternoon, August 17. Your primary responsibilities are to organize and catalogue all my books and tapes and files … It will help me a lot, be fun for you, and you will have a car all the time for whatever you need to do.”
Rose picked her up personally, helping get things set up at his Bellport home initially before disappearing for work. Charlie came back late one evening, and Reah tried to flee to her bedroom before Rose fully came in. But they ran into each other. Charlie insisted she have a glass of wine with him in the dining room. At some point after that, they went out to the dock to look at the moon. It was there Charlie put his arms around Bravo. A few days later after the week was over, Charlie was driving Bravo back to Manhattan. He confessed to feeling alone in life despite his money and fame. He cried a bit as he recalled a recent heart surgery he had in Paris. Reah had a second trip to Bellport. While tending to the guesthouse, she spotted Charlie in the nude taking an outdoor shower. Rose asked Bravo later if she saw him showering, and she lied and told him no. By the end of 2007, Bravo got more work from Charlie Rose: assisting in interviews and conference work. She got invited to work dinners as his company. Charlie had drivers to take the two around town. On several of these outings, Bravo says Rose groped her. The following year in Indiana, Charlie called Bravo to his hotel room to work on a speech. She ignored Charlie coming out of the shower naked, and focused on her work.
By the end of 2008, Charlie Rose had hired Reah Bravo as an associate producer. But she was offered a job that paid three times as much. Not wanting to lose her, Charlie Rose took Reah out for a restaurant date and offered her a full producer position and a place to stay. She turned him down.
“I was leaving because I was getting away,” she said. “I would never want to live someplace where he had keys.”
Kyle Godfrey-Ryan was introduced to Charlie Rose in the mid-2000s. In her young 20s, she soon found herself hired on to be one of his assistants. The question of it being professional or personal was to be determined, as Kyle was tasked with helping Rose on the mend when he hurt his foot.
But it wasn’t long before Kyle was the target of Rose’s outbursts.
“He repeatedly attacked her in front of other people,” said one anonymous former producer. “He once said that because she hadn’t gotten a college degree she would never amount to anything better than his secretary.”
After that, Rose often flipped an internal switch and seemed sorry for being so emotional. But that would also involve him touching her and giving her hugs. Kyle tolerated that. But then it got worse. Charlie started calling her in the middle of the night, wanting to know about her sex life. Other calls had him telling Kyle his sexual fantasies involving things like her swimming naked in his Bellport home’s pool. Kyle says Rose did the casual nudism at points when they were at one of his houses in New York City.
Charlie Rose’s executive producer Yvette Vega was told about the calls Kyle Godfrey-Ryan had gotten. “I should have stood up for them,” Vega said. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”
Things ended after Kyle Godfrey-Ryan told a mutual friend about what Charlie Rose was doing. This friend went and told Charlie. She got fired.
“He took me out to lunch and told me how embarrassed he was, how he didn’t treat me like that,” she said. “It was really about how I got it wrong, and, obviously, I couldn’t work there anymore.”
An anonymous woman met Rose in 2009. She was in her thirties and had a graduate degree, looking to get into broadcast journalism. Her boss while working at an NYC cultural foundation got her in contact with Rose. Their meetings were unusual. Late night dinners with Rose’s friends. He drank a ton of wine. One weekend involved lunch and furniture shopping, and Rose on the phone, yelling at a producer.
There wasn’t any sort of job offer back then. But on June 8th, 2010 he emailed her about an opportunity.
“He talked about this position, which he referred to as being his intellectual partner, that I would be the executive producer for global content,” she said.
The woman visited Bloomberg’s Manhattan HQ and went to Rose’s apartment to talk about it. Rose was willing to pay $120,000 a year. There’d be lots of travel. As a test run, he wanted her to come to his Bellport house, to see how easily the two traveled together. She agreed. It went bad from the start. They got lost and didn’t get to his home until well past midnight. The house was a mess. Rose got his pant legs wet by the pool and needed to change. He came back in a bathrobe, naked underneath that.
“I thought, I’m doomed,” she said. “I was completely panicked. In retrospect, I thought of a million things I could have done.”
The woman says she wasn’t drunk, but Charlie drink his and her wine at the restaurant they stopped at during their day of traveling. By this point, it was 2 AM. The woman tried to talk her way out of it, but it did no good. He put his hand in her pants. Charlie was pissed off at this point, the woman was scared. Somehow she ended up in Charlie’s bedroom.
“I really, honestly, I’ve tried so hard, especially recently, since I’ve been thinking about this, to try to remember what happened between sitting by the pool and being in his bed,” she said. “I have no recollection of how we went from here to there. I do remember I was crying the entire time.”
He tried reaching down her pants again, and the woman pushed Charlie away. She ended up not getting the gig.
Within hours of the Washington Post article being published, Charlie Rose responded on Twitter.
Mother Jones had to acknowledge D.C. bureau chief David Corn’s inappropriate behavior at work after POLITICO got a hold of emails written in 2014 and 2015 revealing the matter. The 2014 email came from a former female staff member who alleged David “came up behind me and put his hands and arms around my body in a way that felt sexual and domineering.” The one from 2015 came from another former staffer who organized women’s concerns from around the office: “made inappropriate comments about women’s sexuality and anatomy,” “rape jokes,” and “regularly gave unwelcome shoulder rubs and engaged in uninvited touching of their legs, arms, backs, and waists,” are things that came up.
“I am an exuberant person and have been known to pat male and female colleagues on the shoulder or slap them on the back, but always in a collegial or celebratory way,” he said. “I have never touched any work colleague in a sexual manner. Once concerns were raised about this type of contact, I have been mindful to avoid it to prevent any misperception. If anyone ever perceived any of this as ‘sexual’ or ‘domineering,’ I am sorry—that was never my intent.”
Editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery and CEO Monika Bauerlein did not see these emails but dealt with the allegations against Corn back then. They claimed to have heard “nonsexual touching” happened. POLITICO looked into the matter further and interviewed a dozen anonymous sources (former and current employees), who shared their experiences. Their overall opinion was management should’ve had a more firm response to the situation.
“We also directed all managers and staff to make sure they respect everyone’s sensitivities regarding physical boundaries, and that they address charged news stories such as sexual violence with particular care,” Jeffery and Bauerlein told POLITICO. “In addition to our existing policies on workplace environment (including regular trainings on sexual harassment), we put in place further internal procedures to ensure that everyone has multiple paths to report any workplace concerns.”
The Eddie Berganza story published November 10th by Buzzfeed News has the main theme of “why hasn’t this person been fired?” When it comes to the world of the comics industry, there’s a different set of rules. Berganza joined DC back in the 1990s and ended up helping publish most of DC’s big comic book releases. On the other side of that, he used to have a rap at the office for making offensive comments and quips that crossed the line of what people think is appropriate in the workplace.
“For 25 years, Berganza has flourished at DC, while women — at least for the latter part of those years — either left the company or avoided it altogether because of him. The women with the most egregious stories about Berganza, expecting they’d be accused by some in their industry of engaging in a “witch hunt,” have kept quiet, scared of losing jobs, friends, and livelihoods. Until now.”
In December 2006 Liz Marsham went to a party at McGee’s (bar in NYC where DC staff hung out). She ended up downing a drink or two and began talking with Eddie Berganza. He had a camera and took a selfie with Marsham, macking her on the lips while doing so. This caught Marsham by surprised. Eddie did it again in the middle of her eating a french fry. Berganza was polite enough to ask before doing it a third time. This gave Marsham the chance to decline. Later on that evening, Eddie tried to grope her. One of his hands went for near her breast, while the other was traveling to Marsham’s hip. Liz dodged the move and Berganza chuckled himself off.
This wasn’t the first time Eddie tried doing this sort of thing. Earlier on in the 2000s, DC cartoonist and editor Joan Hilty was the target of Berganza’s “grab and kiss” strategy. He tried it multiple time during a staff party at McGee’s. “I said no — he kept insisting,” Hilty says. “If you don’t take that arm off me, I’m gonna break it,” they said eventually.
The Buzzfeed piece goes on to the industry and women’s place in it. Marsham told the outlet since the jobs women at the company had were in high demand, they were cautious about how speaking up on issues like Berganza’s. It mentions Hilty got laid off in 2010 while three months after that Eddie got promoted to Executive Editor. DC was planning to move from NYC to California, so these restructurings were common. But conversely, Joan Hilty wrote about her experiences in the industry eventually. She calls it an issue of sexism. You’re free to decide what it is for yourselves.
So Berganza was up for DC’s executive editor job by Spring 2010. This worried Janelle Asselin.
“I worried every time we had a new young intern come into the office that was female,” Asselin said. “I just became very concerned with what he was going to do next. The more stories I started to hear from other people the more I started to feel this was a compulsion, that he couldn’t stop if he had tried and he wasn’t trying to stop. That scared the shit out of me.”
It was in October 2010 that Berganza got promoted to executive editor. But there were changes to how the role worked. The restructuring process made it so people reported to the editor-in-chief, who had the executive editor reviewing content with them. When DC rebooted their superhero universe a few months later, Marsham’s job as a coordinating editor meant working alongside Berganza all day. She told DC editor-in-chief Harras that she couldn’t edit books Eddie was overseeing. According to Marsham, he totally understood. The group of ladies just tolerated Eddie for as long as they could. Janelle told Buzzfeed she never wanted Eddie to get fired. Just that she didn’t want him in a role where a woman he reportedly assaulted had to work alongside him. Eventually, everyone who complained to HR ended up leaving DC.
But that wasn’t the end of the story here.
At the WonderCon comics convention in March 2012, Eddie Berganza force-kissed a woman at the bar in Hilton’s hotel lobby. It took a few people to yank Berganza off the lass. She spoke to Buzzfeed about the incident but wanted to stay anonymous. The woman went there to network and try to get her foot in the door with the comics industry. Part of her interest in working with this subject could stem from her boyfriend who wrote for DC.
“At the time I was so terrified that this would affect myself or my partner’s prospects in comics, worried it would jeopardize either of our careers,” she says.
While the woman didn’t report the incident, Bleeding Cool got wind of it and published a piece on March 26th of that year about the situation. So he found out. While it didn’t even name Berganza, Marsham says he got up and left the office that day. Eddie didn’t return from his impromptu vacation until April 9th. In that time frame, he wrote an apology to DC Comics’ top brass apologizing for “extra stress my actions have caused.”
It was a wake-up call for him. When Berganza got back, management cut his convention travel privileges for a time. They also demoted him back to group editor. “The overall tone was like, ‘I can’t believe he did it again. Surely he’s going to be fired now,’” Marsham says.
This Buzzfeed piece closes off by saying “Berganza has sympathizers.” A former DC employee called the allegations against Eddie unfair given the amount of time that’s passed. He assures Buzzfeed Berganza took them to heart and is a changed man. Another employee corroborated that sentiment. But the skeletons in Eddie’s closest came back to haunt him during a 2016 DC staff restructure. People questioned why he’s able to stay at the company while two-decade veterans like Shelly Bond get the boot.
On November 12th, Entertainment Weekly reported that Eddie Berganza was suspended from DC comics.
“DC Entertainment has immediately suspended Mr. Berganza and has removed him from performing his duties as Group Editor at DC Comics,” the company said in a statement Saturday. “There will be a prompt and yet careful review into next steps as it relates to the allegations against him, and the concerns our talent, employees and fans have shared. DC continues to be extremely committed to creating a safe and secure working environment for our employees and everyone involved in the creation of our comic books.”
The article says it was a direct result of Buzzfeed’s earlier piece about Berganza’s past behaviors.
Garrison Keillor created A Prairie Home Companion, and on November 29th he got the boot from Minnesota Public Radio over reports of “inappropriate behavior.” When it comes to what exactly that entails? The Star Tribune got an e-mail response from Keillor on the subject.
“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he told the outlet. “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
Later on, Garrison made a Facebook post that ended up deleted.
There’s a further, more elaborate one present on Keillor’s website.
“I am deeply grateful for all the years I had doing ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ and ‘The Writer’s Almanac’, the summer tours, the outdoor shows at Tanglewood and Wolf Trap, the friendships of musicians and actors, the saga of Lake Wobegon, the songs and sketches, Guy Noir, Dusty & Lefty, the sheer pleasure of standing in the warmth of that audience. A person could not hope for more than what I was given. I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are. It’s some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969. I am sorry for all the poets whose work I won’t be reading on the radio and sorry for the people who will lose work on account of this. But my profound feeling is that of gratitude, especially to my wife Jenny, and for this painful experience that has brought us even closer together.
— Garrison Keillor”
The rest of this particular story is laid out in Minnesota Public Radio’s statement on the situation. They open it up by saying MPR is ending all their contracts with Keillor and his companies after allegations of “inappropriate behavior” from an individual were brought forward. This means MPR is ending The Writer’s Almanac broadcasts and reruns of The Best of A Prairie Home Companion. It also means distancing MPR from the Pretty Good Goods online catalog and the PrairieHome.org website, plus changing the name of APM’s music and variety program. Garrison himself would allude to it being more than one, elsewhere. But MPR’s statement makes it clear that they only had this one individual’s allegations come up in the course of their investigation. It came to MPR’s attention last month and the allegations are from when Garrison did A Prairie Home Companion. The investigation lasted several weeks.
On November 20th New York Times’s White House reporter Glenn Thrush got the torch on Vox from Laura McGann. She thought it was ironic how Thrush reacted to Mark Halperin’s situation coming to light. He put out a rallying call to the young people in the newsroom to be better. One woman who had a bad encounter with Thrush said he tried to advocate for women and lady journalists, presenting himself to the lass as an “ally” figure. Thrush met them at a going-away send-off celebration at a bar near Politico.
These were the text messages exchanged between Thrush and the woman’s friend Bianca Padró Ocasio that same evening. Glenn left the woman crying after she rejected his advances.
He denied baiting the girl into the situation. Thrush said he got wasted because of some bad health news. She was 21 years old and interning at a journalism outlet in Washington. People told her to be careful around Glenn. He had that reputation generally in the scene. This incident took place this past June. Glenn and Ocasio’s friend were at the bar, and he invited her to go hop to another pub. She went to the bathroom long enough to text Bianca Padró Ocasio that she was drunk and nervous. Bianco suggested an uber but the friend and Thrush ended up walking together. He led the woman down an incline in some Virginia neighborhood. Glenn tried kissing her, but Ocasio cut it short when she called her friend. The woman got an Uber and planned to call her friend back. Between the two phone calls, Glenn tried kissing her again and she rejected his advances. Thrush fled the area and let the woman wait for the Uber alone.
In response, Thrush published this statement.
“The June incident [described above] was a life-changing event [for me]. The woman involved was upset by my actions and for that I am deeply sorry.
Over the past several years, I have responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily. During that period, I have done things that I am ashamed of, actions that have brought great hurt to my family and friends.
I have not taken a drink since June 15, 2017, have resumed counseling and will soon begin out-patient treatment for alcoholism. I am working hard to repair the damage I have done.”
Thrush and the author herself had a past incident. When Laura and Glenn were both at Politico, they went out to the same bar as the woman above. It wasn’t like how it seems. In the beginning, there was a bigger group that hung out for a few rounds of booze. But that number died down to the two of them, eventually. She says Thrush put his hand on her thigh and began kissing her. That was part of what motivated Laura to go out and interview 40 people in the media about Thrush. To get a sense of the flexibility he had in his power. Plus the connections Glenn had that helped reporters get jobs and sources.
In the incident with Bianca Ocasio’s friend and Laura’s, Thrush sent an apology email the day after. Laura recalls the fallout from that night. She observed Thrush gossiping around the office. Over time, the men in the newsroom began acting differently towards her. When putting together this story for Vox Laura’s suspicions were confirmed according to a Politico source who worked there at the same time as them both. Glenn told everyone the roles were reversed. That Laura allegedly made advances to him, and he shot her down. Furthermore, this source said Thrush told this story more than once, using different women as the subject.
“I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately. Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable,” Thrush said in a statement.
On another occasion, a Politico employee told Laura about a Thrush encounter they had in winter 2012/2013. At a Politico going-away party, Glenn and this woman chatted for most of the night. Ending up being the last two in the bar, Thrush offered her a lift home. Somehow Glenn ended up in her house. Through the haze of alcohol, this woman remembers telling Thrush to stop what he was doing because he was married. He apparently left with lightning fast speed.
At a 2013 Politico party, a different woman had a Thrush encounter.
“It all happened very quickly. And he leaned in very quickly,” she said. “At the time, I remember thinking … adults sometimes kiss each other on the cheek. Then sometimes they miss and slobber on your ear. It was my way of thinking this wasn’t as weird as I thought.”
Thrush ended up being suspended by The New York Times later on November 20th. According to senior VP of communications Eileen Murphy, an investigation was launched.
On October 30th President and publisher of The New Republic, Hamilton Fish, was the subject of scrutiny after reports of bad behavior and harassment of women were brought forward. The New Republic’s owner Win McCormack sent out a memo that an independent investigation was being launched into the complaints against Fish.
“I have been made aware that a number of employees have come forward in the last few days to express concern about certain workplace interactions that have created an uncomfortable environment for them,” McCormack writes. “As I understand them, these concerns relate specifically to interactions between Ham Fish and a number of women employees. I appreciate the candor our employees have displayed in coming forward with their concerns, and I take the concerns very seriously.”
Fish wrote to Deadline in an email: “Classic take down underway. We’ll see.”
He ended up resigning on November 3rd, after being forced on a leave of absence because of the investigation. “This won’t mean an end to the inquiry we’ve commissioned,” McCormack wrote. “As we want to understand everyone’s experiences in full, both on their own terms and for the purpose of looking ahead. … I’d like to express my deep appreciation to everyone who has contributed or will.”
Fish emailed AP. Telling them he “felt the controversy swirling around us could cause irreparable harm to the magazine, and that the only way to protect The New Republic and its employees was for me to separate from the organization.”
On November 10th, the folks over at Buzzfeed published an article about a possible scandal at the Guardian. Their digital editor Ian Prior hasn’t shown up for work ever since female staff told the outlet’s bosses of alleged harassment that took place. Buzzfeed contacted Prior by phone and he gave the classic “no comment” response. Neither confirming nor denying the situation.
“We do not discuss specific personnel matters. We take any allegations relating to our staff seriously and have established procedures which we follow rigorously,” said a Guardian representative.
Assistant editor Emily Wilson has taken over in Prior’s place in the meantime. Prior isn’t the only one in the hot seat. Buzzfeed says two other male journalists are being investigated. But their sources deny suspensions in their case.
But on that Friday morning, Katharine Viner sent a “harassment and bullying” memo that people easily read in-between the lines of.
“The revelations about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry have thrown the spotlight on harassment, bullying and dignity at work in all kinds of workplaces,” Viner wrote. “The kind of office culture I want for the Guardian is properly inclusive to all.”
Viner told employees to feel comfortable reporting any incidents of bad behavior to the outlet’s HR department.
As a higher-up at VICE Media, Jason Mojica’s story serves as the tip to the VICE-berg of workplace sexual harassment and misconduct going on at the company.
It began with The Daily Beast’s report on November 15th. They spoke with more than a dozen Vice employees (current and former). But the center of it was Phoebe Barghouty. She started at Vice as an associate producer back in the summer of 2015. 23 years old, master’s degree in journalism from Stanford. The Editor in Chief at the time was Jason Mojica, and he invited her to the LA Press Club Awards. After accepting their award, Mojica and bureau chief Kaj Larsen got shit-faced to celebrate. Phoebe says Larsen was passed out in her car by the conclusion of that night.
Larsen (who was a former Navy SEAL) ended up having Phoebe be his company to Hollywood parties. He’d also touch her at work in ways other employees didn’t get.
“When it comes to talent, we can’t really tell them what to do,” said VICE HR according to Phoebe. “They bring in the money and attention and you just have to deal with it.”
Phoebe tolerated it until autumn. She was in the middle of an editorial meeting call and told a loud group of producers nearby to quiet down. It was after that, Larsen grabbed her arm and said: “If you’re going to get anywhere with Vice guys, you’re going to have to be a lot sweeter.”
“It felt like a threat,” said Phoebe. “The way he looked at me, the way he grabbed my arm. I remember feeling scared.”
A “Non-Traditional Workplace Agreement” that new VICE hires sign mandates employees with no experience working there to not be offended by whatever goes on. Jason Mojica asked Phoebe Barghouty if she signed it when they were at the LA Press Club Awards. He wanted to know how “flexible” she was.
“When older men, senior reporters, or managers would hook up with young female reporter after young female reporter, [my manager] would kind of a shrug and say, ‘Well, non-traditional workplace environment,'” said an anonymous former employee.
“I wasnt sexually harassed at Vice. Many of my female colleagues were. I was, however, treated appallingly. Chastised for wage transparency & consistently degraded.. I was expected to be in the office two days after a suicide attempt for which i was hospitalized. ive never worked for a more disgusting, shameless man than Jason Mojica. He should’ve been fired, but instead was moved around the company.”
While Mojica stepped down from Editor in Chief in 2016, he ended up at the documentary department by 2017.
Vice wrote this statement in response to The Daily Beast’s piece:
“The nature of Vice’s content runs the gamut, from travelogues and news series to more provocative programming like our shows exploring drug culture, Weediquette and Bong Appétit. A non-traditional workplace agreement is often used by companies to certify employees’ comfort with content that could be considered edgy. However, it does not in any way sanction conduct that is disrespectful or biased, and we will investigate all allegations of such behavior, including any incidents where employees purportedly attempted to justify their conduct through the agreement. We have immediately begun reviewing this matter.”
Phoebe Barghouty concludes by saying there’s an “endless list” of stories, and the women at the bad end of them were getting ready to go public.
On November 17th The Hollywood Reporter published an update telling that Vice Media had suspended Jason Mojica. This was a part of their investigation into the sexual harassment allegations brought forward by former employee Phoebe Barghouty. That same day, The Daily Beast posted a follow-up saying employees at VICE were getting annoyed that the company wasn’t addressing the issues at hand yet.
The looming threat of a bombshell article from The New York Times lingered over the next few weeks. By the end of the month, it was announced VICE fired three employees as a result of their internal investigation over sexual harassment allegations.
The sexual harassment and assaults going on in John Besh’s restaurant empire, plus his own shenanigans, make this story a Mad Men meets Hell’s Kitchen situation.
On October 21st, nola.com published their investigation findings regarding John Besh. A famous chef. They spent eight months talking to 25 current and former Besh Restaurant Group staff for all of this. Besh himself started back in the 1990s and earned accolades for his Restaurant August by 2001. His fame intensified after John seized the reins after Katrina hit New Orleans. Besh helped rebuild the city and expanded his company in the process. Now there were 12 restaurants with 1200 staff total throughout.
But the women who spoke to NOLA say this fame obfuscates the abuse behind the scenes. But he isn’t the only one on the chopping block. Besh’s business partner Octavio Mantilla gets some heat here too.
If you want an idea of what we’re in for with this story, let’s look at the statement from Besh Restaurant Group’s general counsel:
“We have learned recently that a number of women in our company feel that we have not had a clear mechanism in place to allow them to voice concerns about receiving the respect they deserve on the job. I want to assure all of our employees that if even a single person feels this way, it is one person too many and that ends now.”
Raymond Landry (BRG’s general counsel) told BRG back in September they needed to improve their HR. He told NOLA that the company’s approach in previous years was having managers and executive chefs deal with employee complaints “in-house” at the restaurants. But now the company was too big for that sort of thing. BRG hired Dawn Peterson Hazen as their first HR director on October 11th.
“Everyone at our company will be fully aware of the clear procedures that are now in place to safeguard against anyone feeling that his or her concerns will not be heard and addressed free from retaliation,” Landry said in a statement.
One of the women who spoke to NOLA the most was Madie Robison, who was the company’s graphic designer. Over a few exchanges with the press, she relayed that sexual comments were commonplace from both staff and management. Some of this behavior took place during meet-ups at a supervisor’s pool.
“All pool days that I participated in involved drinking in our swimsuits and the male chefs/Octavio coming to visit us at the pool,” Robison wrote on the subject. On a different day, she said a male chef began “talking about getting some naked massage. That was when I was like, ew, this is a little weird.”
Mantilla rationalized pool days as “constructive work sessions” that had a point to them. Robison alleges Mantilla was handsy with her. “First it was your leg and then it was your lower back,” Robison said of that. “In my mind, it always got a little worse.”
Octavio denies it but another female BRG employee told NOLA they witnessed it taking place. Lindsey Reynolds (social media manager) ended up filing an EEOC complaint this past June. Accusing the company of discrimination against women in the sense that they were “sexually harassed, and verbally assaulted almost every day.”
The lack of an HR department trapped these women in their jobs with no sufficient outlet to voice their frustrations to. “They had hit on basically every woman in the office who was young and pretty,” Reynolds said when talking about Mantilla and Besh. “It was like ‘Mad Men.'”
Employees Robison and Reynolds said John Besh’s relationship with an employee was a major factor in their decisions to quit BRG. The woman in question filed an EEOC complaint in December 2016, shortly after she quit. In what she calls a “long-term unwelcome sexual relationship,” it all began in summer 2015. The complaint says Besh actively pressured the women to let him get sexual on work trips. During a California trip in 2015, the woman says Besh entered her hotel room and had sex with her. This whole ordeal is backed up by notes written by Robison. She was driving to work in late summer 2015 and got a call from the woman Besh was on a business trip with.
“I remember driving to work and she called me and sounded scared. She said, ‘You’re never going to guess what happened. I slept with one of them I think. I woke up and he was in my hotel room and I don’t remember how he got there,'” Robison remembers the girl saying. Her notes say the woman discovered it was John Besh.
This strange affair continued on an Austin trip in September 2015 and a New York one in October 2015. By “it,” the pressure for this woman to submit to what Besh wanted. This pattern lasted until May 2016 when she tried breaking things off with Besh. The documents say “JBesh asked (her) to help him find her ‘replacement’,” meaning it cost her job. In June 2016, the complaint describes the woman leaving Louisiana and Octavio Mantilla trying to make a deal where he’d give her money for her to keep quiet about the whole thing. The woman ended up taking a medical leave of absence in July and never came back by the time it ended in November.
Robison told NOLA Besh conferred with her about the affair he had with the former employee. “I never declined, because I didn’t think I was allowed to. He was my boss. I was scared s—less in a way,” she said.
Robison wrote about these meetings. They involved him crying and her making an effort to comfort him. At one point she alleges he offered to buy her a $900 dress, which she assumes was a reward for staying quiet. Or an attempt to hit on her. In response, Besh admitted to his chats with Robison. He denied the dress part.
In response to the affair, Besh released this statement.
“Two years ago, I deeply hurt those I love by thoughtlessly engaging in a consensual relationship with one member of my team. Since then I have been seeking to rebuild my marriage and come to terms with my reckless actions given the profound love I have for my wife, my boys and my Catholic faith. I also regret any harm this may have caused to my second family at the restaurant group, and sincerely apologize to anyone past and present who has worked for me who found my behavior as unacceptable as I do.”
“I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father. But it should not taint our incredible team of more than 1,000 employees, nor undermine our unyielding commitment to treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, race, age and sexual preference.”
The overall issue didn’t stop at Besh and Mantilla or the corporate office. Sexual harassment at the company was happening across different BRG restaurants like Domenica, Lüke, Shaya and Restaurant August. The environment allegedly gave male management the upper-hand. Men got off scott-free for their egregious behavior while women were taken advantage of for “sexual opportunity” and the ladies got harsh punishment for minor errors. Both Mantilla and Besh said the last few years of quick growth for the company made “operational deficiencies” worse.
What kind of deficiencies? In the case of Meghan Wright, things went bad during her time as a server at Lüke. She had some innocuous back-and-forth with two male employees. But the two men escalated into sexual abuse. Wright says the guys grabbed her at one point. When Meghan first lodged a complaint, it got shoved aside because the duo was good at their work.
Plus, the men found out Meghan Wright talked.
“The guys were like, ‘We know what you said, you better watch your back,'” she said. Wright complained a second time. “‘This isn’t getting better. This isn’t okay.’ It got to the point where my boyfriend had to drop me off and pick me up at work. Like literally drop me off and pick me up at the door.”
Wright didn’t want to quit, though. The professional money-making opportunity at BRG far exceeded anything else in the nearby area. Meghan wanted a transfer to another restaurant. She was declined and they said they’d reschedule her. Never happened.
In regards to the gender dynamic at work, BRG counterargues they’ve got 60 out of 140 managers that are women. Indeed, company co-owners like Emery Whalen and partners like Kelly Fields exist. Also, NOLA says multiple BRG female chefs agree restaurant work requires “thick skin.” But there are times where lines get crossed.
“There is no sugar coating on the line,” said Melissa Montero. She was a sous chef at Lüke from 2013-14. “But there is a difference between yelling and screaming and punching walls and throwing things – outbursts that people in the dining room were disturbed by.”
She’s not speaking in a general sense either. Melissa says that a male colleague did that during her time at Lüke, and a current BRG employee confirms witnessing it. Montero complained and they responded by telling her not to take things personally.
Another string of events in this story stems from Alon Shaya. He was a chef at BRG restaurants Domenica, Pizza Domenica, and Shaya. Alon alleges he requested BRG set up an HR department since 2014. Landry denies that ever being the case. He sat down with reporters in August 2017 to talk about this glaring oversight. Alon also clarifies that Shaya Restaurant Group is co-owner of the restaurants he runs, affirming an emphasis on independence from BRG.
“If there were ever problems” with sexual harassment complaints, Shaya says they handled them appropriately. “Being inappropriate, that’s never tolerated, not one single bit. That’s not part of Shaya Restaurant Group culture, and it never has been,” he told them.
Besh and Shaya cut ties a month after that. He tells NOLA he felt he got fired for “standing up” and talking. Mantilla argued Shaya wanted to distance himself from this article. That’s because current and former staff at Shaya’s BRG restaurants weren’t free from sexual harassment, despite Alon’s statements to the contrary.
“While working as a line cook at Shaya, I heard daily ‘jokes’ about rape, including one joke about pedophilia,” a former line cook wrote in a resignation email. She wrote her male colleagues “would call grapeseed oil ‘rapeseed’ and use that as an opportunity to joke about rape. They also would say in a weird accent, ‘She run, but I always catch her.’ A (male colleague) one time said a food item was ‘dryer than an 8-year-old.'”
Another former Shaya line cook, Elizabeth Campbell, corroborated the above events. She herself ended up getting fired for crying at work. “‘It’s really a shame, because you’re talented, but you have to not cry at work. You really have to be stronger and don’t let your environment get to you,'” she alleges Alon told her upon dismissal.
An anonymous former Domenica waitress told NOLA she complained regularly over two years because a male colleague kept making sexual comments and showing lewd photos. She alleges he showed her a picture of his genitals and on multiple occasions asked for her breast milk. They complained to management. Another Domenica waitress did too. Her name is Allison Consoli. Filing several complains about that same male colleague that was bothering the girl.
On one occasion Allison says two supervisors did nothing watched the guy harass Consoli until she was almost crying.
“He’d always talk about anal sex with me or using toys on me or me being a ‘backdoor beauty.’ It was along those lines, but I don’t remember exactly what he said. There were so many things, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was that time.”
Both Shaya and Landry confirm firing him eventually for his behavior, though.
On October 23rd, The New York Times reported John Besh stepped down from running the company to give all his to his family instead.
“So, while we are on the topic of outing famous and semi-famous creeps, anyone want to speak up about Jesse Lacey from Brand New?”
The thread led to comments from Nicole Elizabeth Garey. She started sharing her story.
In a follow-up comment, she said this.
“OH AND YES HE MADE ME WATCH HIM MASTURBATE ON SKYPE. Apparently that’s a common thing with sexual predators. I took screen shots at some point, they’re probably on a computer in my basement if I ever really wanted to rehash my past that much (I don’t think I do).”
On November 13th, Pitchfork Magazine released an article detailing the stories from two of Lacey’s victims. One of those was Nicole Elizabeth Garey’s.
Nicole first met Jesse Lacey in 2003. At age 15, she did a photography job taking shots of a Brand New concert in New York. Lacey gave Nicole his email address afterward. At some point in their interactions, Jesse Lacey demanded Nicole send nudes. She complied with his requests. Yes, there were multiple requests. Garey said Lacey kept asking for more nudes since he couldn’t have that sort of thing sitting around on his computer.
“You’re flattered because one of your favorite bands is interested in you and nobody’s taken interest in you before,” Garey told Pitchfork. “I didn’t really see it for what it was because when you’re a teenager you think, ‘I know everything, I’m an adult.’”
Nicole said the last time she talked to Lacey was seven years ago. He skyped her and jacked off.
The second target of Jesse Lacey was Emily Driskill. They first got in touch with Lacey back in 2002, after getting Jesse’s IM username from a friend. Driskill worked as a music journalist and photographer so she met up with Lacey for an interview. According to Emily, Lacey had his eyes locked on to her chest and made comments about her body. “He was the first person to ever tell me that I was hot. In hindsight as an adult woman, I know I was preyed on,” Driskill told Pitchfork.
Much like Nicole’s situation, Lacey demanded nudes from Driskill when she was 17. Reportedly he sent her photos of himself getting undressed and made Driskill participate in “countless masturbatory video chat sessions,” and all the while attempting “to manipulate [her] into engaging in sexual situations with other people, on camera, for his viewing pleasure.”
If Driskill said no, Jesse Lacey threatened to cut off band access. “There were a lot of instances where if I didn’t want to participate, or if I didn’t want to take my clothes off and take photos, he would say, ‘OK, well, I guess I won’t be seeing you the next time I come to Houston,’” Driskill said.
At 18, Emily Driskill went with her friend and her brother to see Brand New do a show at Emo’s in Austin. It was there Lacey took her to a green room, shut the door, and then pushed her up against the wall to kiss her and touch her. “I was walking around with him to find his backpack, and then it went from zero to 60 when he closed the door,” she says. “He pinned me against the wall with his knee between my legs.”
Back when the allegations first hit the public, Jesse Lacey made a formal statement on Facebook in response to these revelations.
“The actions of my past have caused pain and harm to a number of people, and I want to say that I am absolutely sorry. I do not stand in defense of myself nor do I forgive myself. I was selfish, narcissistic, and insensitive in my past, and there are a number of people who have had to shoulder the burden of my failures. I apologize for the hurt I have caused, and hope to be able to take the correct actions to earn forgiveness and trust.Early on in my life, I developed a dependent and addictive relationship with sex. I was scared of it, ashamed, and unwilling or unable to admit it, and so it grew into a consistent and terrible problem. Years ago, after admitting my habits and cheating to my then soon to be wife, I began to approach my problem in a serious way. I entered professional treatment, both in group therapy and individual counseling, and revealed the realities of what a terrible place I had gotten to in my life, and what a terrible impact my actions had on people.”
Kirt Webster managed one of the biggest country music industry PR firms and had a plethora of valuable clientele. But like the business of public relations itself, it turns out Mr. Webster was apt at putting on a façade. Things weren’t as nice and sunny behind Kirt’s curtain.
It all began with a Facebook post on October 29th from former country singer Austin Rick. The following all came out because they were inspired by the #MeToo social media campaign. To give you some backstory, he left his home in Maryland at age 21 to become a country music star. He ended up in Nashville by 2007 and met Kirt Webster.
Nashville Scene followed up with Austin Rick on October 31st.
“I started working with Kirt, and before I knew it, it didn’t take long before I was trapped in a hellhole that I could not get out of,” Rick says. “I trusted him completely, and he wanted to make me a star just long enough to sexually molest and abuse me. And I remember one time he told me, ‘I want there to be fireworks in your career, but only if there’s fireworks between us.’ And that was like pretty early on in our relationship.”
Kirt reportedly told Rick that in order to be in Playgirl magazine, he had to see him naked. “I had to strip naked so he could give me a blow job,” Rick says. Later on in the autumn at Webster’s place, Kirt groped Austin in the hot tub. He says Kirt started “reaching up underneath my bathing shorts and fondling my genitals, and smiling and winking at me, while I’m just sitting there.”
Things came to a head at an Easter party Austin attended. A few drinks later and Rick comes around to see he’s in Webster’s bed. Where Kirt was “hugging me, kissing me all over my face and mouth, and neck and lips,” according to Rick. Austin knew he had to get out. He called a taxi service and had them wait outside Webster’s gated driveway with the headlights off. Rick packed up his suitcase and waited until Kirt turned his back to escape.
Webster’s spokesperson denied Rick’s allegations.
“As a single adult, Mr. Webster has had multiple relationships over the course of his professional life, all of which have been consensual. This includes a brief relationship with Mr. Rick. It saddens Mr. Webster that nine years later, after Mr. Rick’s music career has been stagnant, Mr. Rick has taken the opportunistic approach of mischaracterizing that relationship and posting untrue allegations.”
Taste of Country did a second interview with Austin Rick later on. It clarifies some things that the Nashville Scene got wrong in their initial article.
Austin Rick calls out Webster’s lawyer for using the word “relationship” to define the interactions between Rick and Kirt. “His lawyer has been using that word like it was a romantic relationship or something like that. I hope people realize that what was going on was not a relationship,” Rick said.
While things were fine in the beginning, by the three to four-month mark the inappropriate interactions crescendoed. Rick says the Playgirl incident brought him the most shame. He didn’t speak up about it back then because he was afraid of torpedoing his music career. Kirt said that would happen if he did. But to placate Austin Rick, Webster delivered envelopes of cash and pay for stuff.
After escaping, it took only two days for Kirt Webster to take back all the luxuries he had given Austin Rick. Austin Rick told Taste of Country this experience in his life caused psychological damage. Multiple PTSD diagnoses that stem from this time period he spent with Kirt Webster. This, alongside excessive nightmares, difficulty relating to people, and being jumpy.
On November 1st, Nashville Scene posted a follow-up piece on allegations against Kirt Webster. Other people came forward to talk to the outlet after their initial article released earlier in the week. Former employees told the Scene that working under Webster meant a consistent stream of abuse and harassment. Turnover wasn’t unusual. According to them, the PR firm managed to reel in the newbies to the profession who had no past experiences to compare Webster PR to. The bait on the hook was the big name clients that the company had under their belt.
“He has amazing clients, and you do get to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences with him,” a former female employee said. “He knows that, and he uses it.”
That staff member said Webster had a habit of sexual comments towards employees. But it didn’t stop at just verbal attacks. Sometimes Kirt Webster kicked things up to the next level. She says one occasion Webster grabbed her ponytail and made this face like the woman was giving him oral sex.
A male employee that lasted two years at the company told Nashville Scene he saw Webster acting unprofessionally even before officially starting. During the job interview (happened at night at Kirt’s house), Webster asked this employee lewd lines of questioning: “What’s the craziest or most risqué thing you’ve ever done?” and “Would you have sex with someone in front of people?” among them. At some point down the line, Webster invited this employee back to his house. Kirt wanted a hot tub buddy to watch porn with.
A second male country singer spoke to the Scene, choosing to keep his identity anonymous. They alleged Webster made sexual advances to him as recent as 2017.
“He was just like, ‘You want to meet Reba and Dolly, don’t you?’ And then he was like, ‘You know you have to make sacrifices to be a star, don’t you?’ He told me after that he was going to have to see me naked. It ended up happening, and I’m definitely not proud of it. That was the first time. He wanted me take a shower, and I said, ‘No, I’ve already showered,’ and I felt really uncomfortable and said I was going to go. Then he was like, ‘Put your clothes back on, I’m sorry.’”
This anonymous singer points out Kirt Webster used the same “I want to see fireworks in your career” pick-up line with him that Webster used on Austin Rick. Further, the singer says there was an incident after a client’s concert which Webster gave VIP passes to. The singer says they got drunk and rode back with Webster’s assistant to his house. Which also happened to be Webster’s guest house.
“I was asleep on the couch, and when I woke up, [Webster] he was messing with me. He was like, ‘It’s fine,’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s not.’ And he says, ‘You want to be a star, don’t you?’ And it’s so weird and I’m embarrassed, and I didn’t know what to do about it, and I don’t know how to talk about it.”
On top of all that, a situation occurred after the singer went to Webster’s office.
“He says, ‘Sit on the couch.’ And I said OK. And then he said to pull my pants down. I said, ‘Kirt, I’m tired of doing this,’ and he’s like ‘If you’re not going to work with me, I’m not going to work with you.’ And I was like, ‘I really don’t want to make a music career doing things like this, it’s embarrassing.’ He wanted to give me a blow job, and he kept going on and on, and I let him that night. And that was the last time. And I haven’t seen him since.”
On November 2nd, the Tennessean had three more people step forward claiming sexual abuse against Kirt Webster.
The first case being a former household contractor that claims Webster molested them in 2009 while doing a job interview. They had recently finished college and needed a steady job. A lady friend of his happened to have interned for Webster and set up a job interview for him at Webster’s house. Once there, Kirt became fascinated with the man’s tattoos while they were talking in the den. In retrospect, they say that was the first sign of trouble. The man took off his shirt to show Webster a tattoo he had on his back. It was this point the man’s friend who tagged along with him had left to run an errand.
“That’s when he was, like, take your shirt back off. Then, because he had seen a tattoo on my torso that went underneath my pants, that went behind my waistband, he was like, show me that.”
The man took off his pants.
“I was just in some kind of, like, I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I was terrified, you know. And I didn’t have any way out of there.”
It was during this moment of fear Webster gave the man oral, then asked the man to give him oral in return. He gave into Kirt’s demand. This sexual back-and-forth ended when the friend came back home. The man ended up not telling anyone what happened for months. They managed to work for six and half of those under Webster.
The second case was an office manager. They allege Kirt Webster groped them twice during the 10-week stint they worked for him in 2014. The job interview itself steered into sexual territory. “His questions veered into ‘would I be offended if I were to show up to one of his parties and there were people who were nudists,'” the manager said. At the time they were willing to overlook Kirt’s bizarre questioning because he and his wife just moved to Nashville. They were desperate for a paying gig. But within days of working at Webster PR, the manager says he dealt with a flurry of verbal abuse. “I told you, you will learn if I have to fuck you up the ass, you will learn,” Kirt allegedly said. Webster actually grabbed the manager’s ass, according to them.
A few weeks after that first incident there was a second one. Webster “stuck his hand in between my legs from behind trying to grab my crotch,” the manager said. “I turned around and said, ‘look, man, I’m not gay. I’m married.’ He said he was just joking with me.”
At a point following that encounter, this second man put in a two-week notice. He ended up leaving sooner due to Webster getting progressively more angry and furious. While leaving the office for a final time, Kirt followed the man to his car.
The third case is a former personal assistant that worked there for six weeks in 2015. Kirt pushed for them to move in upon arriving in Nashville. While on the job Webster made comments about the butts and breasts of female interns, staff, and at least one client’s wife. They recall verbal use towards himself and other male employees. Every so often, Kirt Webster gave the guy shoulder rubs from behind.
“At the time, all this felt wrong, but it was always like, ‘oh, it’s just Kirt being Kirt,'” he said. “At the time I was 25 living in Tennessee and barely paying rent. I badly wanted to tell someone.”
By November 1st, the signs of Webster PR hitting the panic button were evident.
“As of November 1, 2017, Webster Public Relations is no longer in business” read the company website for a brief time. But it was quickly declared a mistake by a representative.
“Webster Public Relations will continue operating — but under the name Westby Public Relations — while Kirt Webster takes some time away from the business to focus on combating the egregious and untrue allegations made against him,” said Stacey Nickens, of DVL Seigenthaler (a different Nashville PR firm). “The company’s work on behalf of its clients will continue under the leadership of Jeremy Westby, Kirt’s longstanding colleague.”
Over the span of a few days with all the allegations coming out, by November 2nd Kirt Webster’s PR firm lost a majority of their clients. It’s all detailed in this report from Variety.
“Kid Rock (whose impending Friday album release had been heavily promoted by Webster), Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny G, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tanya Tucker, Big & Rich, Cyndi Lauper, Kiefer Sutherland, Don McLean, the Oak Ridge Boys, William Michael Morgan, Roy Clark, KC and the Sunshine Band, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, LoCash, Lucas Hoge, Lacy J. Dalton, Olivia Lane, John Conlee, Gene Watson, Johnny Lee, Moe Bandy, Tim Rushlow, Leroy Van Dyke, Denny Strickland, Johnny Lee, and Deborah Allen.”
Dolly Parton, Justin Moore, Lee Greenwood, Taylor Hicks, Jewel, and Aaron Lewis too. Variety was able to clarify Randy Travis hadn’t used Webster PR since this past February. Former employees told Variety and other outlets about an instance where Kirt Webster mocked Travis (who still suffers after-effects of a massive stroke) while at the office. They used to keep a page dedicated to listing their clients. But as departures kept happening, Webster PR was obliged to remove them and keep it up to date. At some point the number of people leaving was significant enough they just removed the entire page.
To get a sense of how up in the air things were. Westby told Variety he was starting a new PR firm instead of taking over Webster.
I spoke with another country singer who had Kirt Webster as a publicist. They say the abuse they suffered was on a mental level more than anything else.
“He created an issue with a band I was opening for on a major tour. He said after the 1st night I had stepped on a bunch of toes and everyone was mad at me. I confronted the tour manager & he was stunned and asked who said it. I told him, then he wanted to confront Kirt. Kirt went through the roof & said he would never get on a call and that I just ruined my career, he told my investor that I was impossible to work with. This also effected [sic] my major sponsor. [Kirt] blocked me from several opportunities. All because he felt like I didn’t do things his way.”
This person alleges Kirt Webster’s manipulation of their career had a long impact. It took time for them to bounce back from it. My source wants to stay anonymous. They tell me people are still afraid of Kirt Webster’s reach in Nashville business despite the controversy that took place.
Leon Wieseltier was one of the “Shitty Media Men” that got ousted when the list became public. For two decades he was a higher-up editor at The New Republic and had moved to The Atlantic in recent years when all of this went down. On October 27th, Michelle Cottle wrote a character profile on Leon over at The Atlantic. The main theme of her piece is how nuanced and complicated these sorts of workplace situations can be.
She had a 12-year history with Leon Wieseltier, starting when she joined up at the New Republic back in 1999. Michelle points out their relationship: making small talk in the office, getting drinks after work from time to time, and going to each other’s weddings. But despite this normalcy, Leon was a man with a history of sexual harassment.
Michelle says Leon’s routine was eyeing every young woman that came to the New Republic and testing boundaries with them. Those being how much tolerance the lady in question had towards his lewd talk and attitude. Personally, Michelle had undergone that at a New Republic party in NYC after she joined the staff. Leon took her to his hotel and invited Michelle to drink with him. But the bar was too crowded, so they ordered room service and hung out in his suite. It was there Wieseltier tried to impress Michelle while quizzing her about what their personal life was full of. She set the boundaries by telling Leon straight-up there had a relationship already. But even so, here Michelle was in a casual setting with him.
Thus so it was. Leon became a regular judge of Michelle’s outfits and appearance. One time he sent her a thank-you note for coming to work in a miniskirt. Amanda Silverman (former New Republic employee) testified to the same sort of treatment. Coming to work with a black dress and tights, a male co-worker said it looked like Amanda was going to a funeral. Leon heard this discussion and added his own two cents. “The only problem with that dress is that it’s not tight enough,” he said.
Speaking of discussions, Leon Wieseltier was an open book about his sex life. “Unsolicited, he told me a long, detailed story about how magnificent his long-ago girlfriend’s breasts were,” said former New Republic employee Hillary Kelly. Michelle was still the target of Leon’s innuendos even after her husband began working there. But that wasn’t out of the ordinary for Wieseltier. He was open to asking his colleagues feedback on his work about foreskin impacting male pleasure, for instance.
Leon Wieseltier was also “hands-on.” By that, meaning he kissed people on various parts of their face. Marin Cogan worked as an assistant editor at the New Republic from 2007 to 2009. A cursory skim of her emails turned up four separate incidents of Leon smooches.
“Leon kissed me on the lips under the guise of congratulating me on a life event,” says Katherine Marsh, former managing editor and deputy editor at the New Republic from 2005 to 2009. “I have been hugged and even cheek-kissed by plenty of male colleagues, but this raised my alarm bells. I told several family members at the time because it creeped me out. I felt uncomfortable around him for pretty much the rest of my time at TNR. I remember warning a new female colleague, Britt Peterson, not to be in a room alone with him.”
While Wieseltier could play it off as if he’s kidding around, Sarah Wildman (worked at the New Republic from 1999 to 2003) begs to differ. “One night most of the staff went out. Leon cornered me by the bathroom and kissed me. I clapped my hand over my mouth and he said, ‘I’ve always known you’d do that.’ I felt terrible afterwards.”
Michelle writes that people put up with it because Leon was a powerful guy. He was known to give people hell for pissing him off. One former employee said outright Wieseltier was a career maker and breaker. Given the fact Leon had a close relationship with the owner of New Republic, it’s understandable why. But Leon had a good side too. He helped women colleagues with their articles and propped them up professionally as he made introductions between them and influential industry folks. It was a double-edged sword. Leon Wieseltier had his perks and benefits, but to get to those you had to put up with his inappropriate behaviors.
“I owe a great deal to his support and his mentorship,” says Ruth Franklin, who held multiple New Republic editorial positions from 1999 to 2014. “It was no secret that Leon regularly acted inappropriately with many women on staff, including me, but his actions were largely overlooked because he wielded enormous power and because he was often charming, funny, and brilliant. Regardless of what he intended, numerous women found his actions and remarks patronizing, insulting, or damaging.”
Lockhart Steele was Vox Media’s editorial director and the former CEO/founder of Curbed Network. He first joined Vox back in November 2013 when the company acquired Curbed in a $20 million to $30 million deal.
It all began back on October 12th with a Medium post by Eden Rohatensky. Most of her post is a reflection on her history of sex-related abuses in the workplace culture, with an emphasis on how men in positions of power are the most hypocritical with what they do in public and private. Working as a web developer, Eden was able to find a job down in the United States. Within the first few days of a corporate retreat, her supervisor kissed her. He told her not to tell anyone because he was married and an important part of their company. In the time that followed the supervisor told Eden he loved her and texted her constantly. Eden’s boyfriend got the wrong idea when finding all of this out, and the two ended up splitting. After a year living in a basement apartment, Eden tried killing herself. A week after that she went to America for another corporate retreat. Eden tried running away from the dude but he ended up finding her. Later during that retreat weekend, Eden and her workmates all took Ubers to get something to eat. It was in the back of one of these cars that Eden sat next to a company VP. That VP happened to caress Eden’s hands and arm, before proceeding to kiss her neck. She trapped the VP’s hand to stop him from making any further moves.
That VP was Lockhart Steele. A month later Eden got fired for not being productive. She reported what happened with Steele now because there was no job at stake for Eden to lose here.
“A year later, I found out that an investigation had been done. That he had multiple victims within the company. That his punishment was being told he could not drink at corporate events any longer.”
Eden notes that Steele tweeted photos of him sitting on a panel about diversity in workplace culture. She concludes by noting there were no consequences to the men in Eden’s life who came after her. In a P.S. note at the end, she notes that after posting her story to Medium, Steele’s company at Vox media called her. “Having too many shares” wasn’t the reason no punishment was given to Steele (as Eden said originally), rather the report didn’t make into the right hands until now.
Steele ended up getting fired, according to The Awl. Vox employees were informed of this in the company’s CEO AMA Slack channel:
“Hi team, I am writing to let you know that earlier this evening Lockhart Steele was terminated effective immediately. Lock admitted engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with our core values and will not be tolerated at Vox Media.
Our investigation into issues raised by a former employee in a post on Medium continues. Anyone with information should contact our external investigation leads, [redacted].
Vox Media is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming community, and appreciates everyone who has been willing to speak up and share information during the course of this investigation.“
CEO Jim Bankoff later told the company in a company-wide call that this investigation was still ongoing. People were coming forward, and he encouraged anyone who hadn’t yet to do so. Vox even retained law firm Gibson Dunn to run an external investigation.
A journalist who had regular appearances on Morning Joe and NBC News was accused of sexual harassment from five different women during his time with ABC News.
“Mark left ABC News over a decade ago, and no complaints were filed during his tenure,” ABC told CNN.
“We find the story and the allegations very troubling,” MSNBC said. “Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”
The first woman was invited to his office in the early 2000s, back when Halperin was ABC News political director. She went there to have a soda, but Mark grabbed her breasts and kissed her. A second woman had an encounter with Halperin during the 2004 election season. She got in touch with him because Halperin was in charge of ABC News reporters who traveled embedded with campaigners. She describes Mark coming up behind her in their first meeting, pressing his body and genitals against the woman. This second woman says Halperin repeated his requests of sexual interest later on, even on the campaign trail. A third woman who was also an ABC News employee said Halperin made advances on her when traveling. They were on the road and she excused herself to the ladies room. Mark was standing in front of the door when she came out, inviting her to come over to the other restroom. A fourth woman who worked with Halperin says Mark invited her to his hotel room late at night when they were on the campaign trail. She declined, assuming he was making a move. A fifth woman who says she wasn’t an ABC News employee at the time of her incident wasn’t willing to share specifics. But was willing to admit Halperin put his (clothed) erect penis against her body without any consent given.
Halperin ended up admitting to his behavior.
“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin told CNN in a statement. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
UPDATE 5/19/2020: Matt Lauer responds and manages to put forward enough of an argument that I feel obligated to apologize for just regurgitating what was put out there originally.
Which you will find below.
It came as a shock to the media world when the public learned Matt Lauer of the TODAY show was terminated from his position. The situation was allegedly kept quiet for ages. Lauer was making serious bank at $25 million a year. Everyone knew what Matt got himself into. His behavior wasn’t a secret. Meredith Vieira found a bag of sex toys in Matt Lauer’s closet, for fuck’s sake.
“The major thing that’s changed since I’ve seen you last? I have now seen you naked,” Matt Lauer told Sandra Bullock back in a 2009 interview.
It started on Monday, November 27th. An NBC employee spoke up about sexual misconduct that took place during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Plus several months after that. They ended up canning him by Wednesday, November 29th. Lauer was nowhere in sight at the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting event that night.
On the 30th, Lauer published a statement. It was read on-air at the start of the TODAY show for that morning.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul-searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”
Variety spent two months looking into it all. They talked to numerous present and past employees who had experiences working with Matt Lauer. The three women who were victims of sexual harassment had their stories corroborated, but wanted to remain anonymous out of fear for career backlash.
With Matt Lauer, there’s different levels of misconduct going on (these are all testimonies given to Variety). On the lighter end, you have him asking the lady producers who they slept with, and playing “fuck, marry, or kill” with people. Thus, sharing which of the women co-hosts he wanted to have sex with at a particular point. On the heavier side, Matt Lauer once gave a female co-worker a sex toy as a gift. Along with that package was a note from him detailing how he’d use it on them. In extreme cases, Matt Lauer asked a female staff member to come to his office. It was there he’d drop his pants and show his dick. Lauer punished the employee after they refused to get involved in sexual acts with it.
Variety says Matt Lauer’s office was in its own tucked away space. Within which was a button under his desk that let him lock his office door without needing to get up from his chair. In theory, this was for privacy (and people who work at NBC say all high-profile staff have them). In practice, it means trapping female staff inside without needing to worry about interruptions and people walking in on him.
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” said NBC News Chairman Andy Lack in a staff memo. Reports from insiders suggest otherwise, that Lauer’s misconduct was left unattended.
That question whether or not NBC executives knew about Lauer’s behavior is later elaborated on.
Here’s a memo from NBC News Chairman Andy Lack.
NBC executives asked Matt Lauer directly about any potential improper behavior when they learned news outlets were working on a story. Lauer’s response was “racking his brain and couldn’t think of anything at all,” according to the higher-ups who asked. While on TV Matt Lauer seemed wholesome, that allegedly wasn’t the case elsewhere at work.
Matt Lauer had enough editorial power over the Today show to toss out stories on cheating husbands, according to producers who Variety spoke with. There was an irony when Lauer had an obligation to cover sex scandals after the Weinstein controversy blew up. It’s little things like that, which help back the notion that women’s complaints to NBC executives were brushed aside up until recent events in Hollywood.
Whenever Lauer traveled was when his sexual harassment flared up. Employees say Matt fawned over one lady producer he had the hots for, going as far as having that same female co-worker deliver a pillow to his hotel room. It was part of a larger pattern of incidents that Matt Lauer got involved in during the Olympics, especially. To the extent that Matt himself was telling people his wife didn’t let him go to the London Olympics alone because she didn’t trust him.
Two more of these complaints against Matt Lauer were reported to NBC on the 29th. One of them told the New York Times about it. The improper comments began after she started back in the 1990s as a TODAY show producer. When traveling with Matt, he asked her questions about cheating on her husband. Remember that door lock button Lauer had on his desk? In 2001, that former female employee was requested to Matt’s office. The door was locked and he sexually assaulted her, she alleges. The employee says they passed out and needed the care of a nurse. She didn’t want to lose her job either, so they didn’t report the incident. The employee left the company a year after her encounter with Matt Lauer.
Page Six later revealed Matt Lauer was setting up to go to bat against NBC for the other $30 million he’s still owed on his contract. But a source speaking to The Hollywood Reporter said Lauer’s chances were slim since he was fired “for cause.” This means NBC doesn’t have to pay Matt for the rest of his contract.
Matt’s ex-wife spoke out in support of him. She was married to Lauer back in the 1980s. His ex describes Matt as a nice and charming guy that’s willing to lend a hand to anyone. She expressed doubts toward the claims brought forward against him. On the other hand, Matt’s current wife and family reportedly left the United States and are laying low somewhere in the Netherlands. A knowledgeable source speaking to Page Six describes Lauer as a great father but shitty husband.
NBC officials were spotted destroying every last memory of Matt Lauer out of their offices.
The Weinstein controversy caused allegations against VICE Broadly’s former “Male Feminist” columnist Michael Hafford to surface in the public eye. He ran a three-month article series satirizing male feminism. Broadly’s former Editor-in-Chief told Jezebel they ever communicated with Michael during his time there. But she killed his column in December 2015 after editors told them Michael “had become aggressive and rude and difficult to work with.”
Below are the stories from four women who say they were subjected to rape, assault, and other abuses by Hafford. Jezebel saw the tweets from these ladies and got in touch with them.
Deirdre Coyle had their first meet-up with Hafford in spring 2015. They were only friends until having a hobnob in summer 2015. “We were making out and I told him that I didn’t want to have sex with him yet and then he just, like, was inside me without a condom,” she says. Later on that summer, Michael punched Dierde in the face while they were getting it on. “I very explicitly said don’t do that, I don’t like that,” Coyle said. “In response he hit me harder and I just kind of gave up. He was stronger than me.” Later on in the year during Winter, Michael told Deirdre to close her eyes. Hafford surprised her by putting cocaine in her vagina. “All night he had kept trying to get me to do coke with him,” she says. “I didn’t want to, I didn’t really care what he was doing so I kept saying no, no, no.” It was around this time that Coyle decided to stop having sex with Hafford. But he tried engaging in that anyway one evening while Coyle slept. In a twist of irony, Deirdre Coyle was with Hafford when the Male Feminist column pitch was approved by Broadly. She says she helped him along with the piece in fine-tuning his ideas. But as you can imagine now in retrospect, every one of the women who Michael assaulted feels uneasy about this article series.
Dilara met Michael Hafford on Tinder in June 2015. They had a consensual sexual relationship that went fine until an evening that next month. Hafford was wasted and got pissed off when Dilara didn’t take her dress off in the stairwell. He choked her until she passed out. After coming around, Dilara went up to his apartment out of fear. They had sex. The experience involved punching Dilara multiple times, putting cocaine in her vagina, and attempting anal without her consent. “I woke up in the morning and it seemed like he knew something was wrong, and I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t say anything, I just thought things maybe got out of hand,” Dilara says. “We had sex again in the morning and he was like, Did last night turn you on? And I said no and he apologized for scaring me.” In August 2015 Dilara requested Hafford put on a condom. He said he didn’t have any. They had sex anyway, and Dilara saw condoms on his bed table afterward. They ended up breaking their hook-up off at some point after that. It wasn’t until May 2016 they’d speak again. Dilara got a DM from Michael on Snapchat. “He said ‘I’m writing an article about how ghostwriting erotic fiction warps my brain, did you ever find me too dominant?’ And I said yes, I think consent got blurred a lot of the time,” Dilara says. “He said ‘I was really on coke all the time and I’m sorry.’ I didn’t forgive him.”
Abby Carney told Jezebel she got raped by Hafford in summer 2015. While they met at an LA bar in June, their interaction picked up after they made plans to see each other at a birthday party for a friend of Hafford’s. “I didn’t really have many friends in New York yet so he was the first person I had hung out with,” Carney says. Abby thought Hafford was gay at first during the early parts of their date. But Michael went in for a kiss and took Abby by surprise. She was cool with it. Carney ended up going back to Hafford’s place afterward, upon his invitation. There they ate sandwiches and drank booze before making out. “I just want to make out, I don’t want to have sex with you,” Abby remembers saying. Regardless, Michael removed her bikini as Carney lightly struggled against his actions. “I was pretty drunk, but I know that somehow or another he led me to his bed,” Carney says. “I remember clearly that I said multiple times that I don’t want to have sex, I don’t want to do anything else, and eventually he pressed himself inside anyway.” Again, no condom. Afterward, Abby tried convincing herself that she had feelings for Hafford. It culminated with her in August 2015 telling Michael she didn’t want to be just a “fling” and they had sex again that night. But after that, he distanced himself to the point where they basically went their separate ways.
Helen Donahue was Vice’s social media editor and a site writer. Donahue first met Michael Hafford at a bar in Brooklyn on December 12, 2015. The two of them drank heavily. Donahue doesn’t remember going back to Hafford’s apartment. But she recalls not liking the physical pains of the sex had in his bed. “I’m not sure if I voiced that or if I voiced that loudly enough, but I don’t think that would have stopped him anyway,” Donahue said. It was after waking up from this that Donahue felt a shockwave of pain in the chest. Escaping into the bathroom, she screamed when seeing the bruises on her body. Donahue asked Hafford about it. He denies that ever happening before, and swore to her it wouldn’t happen again. Two days later, Donahue photographed her bruises to document her encounter. The day after that, she showed up to VICE’s holiday party in a turtleneck. Donahue stayed with Hafford for a brief while from late December into the following January. Michael ended up breaking things off. In February 2016 she confronted him about the bruises and Hafford denied causing them. But he swore that he “apologizes for everything” and vowed to keep a professional distance.
On October 31st two women came forward to the Washington Post to discuss their experiences dealing with NPR’s senior VP of News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes. The company put him on indefinite leave (but he stepped down on November 1st). At the time of these incidents, Oreskes was the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. The two women in question (remaining anonymous to not hurt their careers) approached Oreskes in hopes of working at the publication. Both encounters end up with Michael going in for a kiss.
The first woman met him in Times’ Washington office at the Army-Navy Building. Oreskes took out a personal ad in the Washington City Paper. “Saw you at the Army-Navy Building. Loved hearing your life story and your ideas. Hope you get this message. Let me know,” it said. The only reason the first woman found this out was that Michael Oreskes emailed her about it. She wasn’t aware he did that and had to look it up. When she did, it was over in the “Adult Services” section (which has the prostitution-like offers). She turned down offers from Michael for lunch at the Watergate Hotel. Despite these advances, this first woman tried having professional level interaction maintained to keep any job hopes alive. It culminated when she told Oreskes she was going to New York for a job interview over at New York Daily News. He was planning to head that way anyway, so they traveled together. After taking a cab into NYC from the airport, Michael Oreskes kissed her and tried jamming his tongue in her mouth.
“The worst part of my whole encounter with Oreskes wasn’t the weird offers of room service lunch or the tongue kiss but the fact that he utterly destroyed my ambition,” she said.
Second woman booked Michael Oreskes on a TV show she was a producer on. She mentioned to him she wanted to go back to print reporting, and Michael offered to look over her work portfolio. They set up a restaurant meeting but plans changed at the last minute so they ended up meeting at Second Woman’s apartment. Nothing happened at her place, he just got a little handsy when showing him around her place. The second woman offered to take Oreskes to the airport for a flight he had to catch. Once there, Michael surprised her with a kiss as he got out of the car.
The second woman called her boyfriend immediately afterward to tell him about it. Oreskes later called her up to say he enjoyed getting to know her and looked forward to meeting again. The second woman booked Oreskes two months later, and she met up with him at the restaurant in Union Station.
“I looked him in the eye, and I said: ‘You kissed me, and it was totally inappropriate. That’s not the way I want to get ahead in this business.’ His jaw dropped. He said: ‘I was overcome with passion. I couldn’t help myself.’”
Two individuals who worked at The New York Times with Oreskes said he had a fascination with a third person who worked there. “I would call it pestering,” says one of the editors. “It made [the woman] really nervous. There was excessive phone calling [by him to her] and messages that he wanted to meet her outside the office.”
“If I had to do it again, I would have told him to knock it off,” said Jill Abramson (who worked as Oreskes’s deputy). “I think I should have raised this with [the Times’ human resources department]. . . . Maybe confronting him would have somehow stopped him from doing it to another woman.”
NPR themselves released a report about Michael Oreskes. Within, they detail not only the two incidents mentioned by Washington Post, but a third incident too. NPR employee Rebecca Hersher filed an HR complaint to NPR in October 2015. Working as an assistant producer on Weekend All Things Considered, she alleges Michael Oreskes took a career counseling session and turned it into a three-hour personal dinner. It all began when Michael stopped by NPR West’s office in Culver City. He told everyone on staff they could get in touch with him to sit down and talk about their careers. Hersher worked on temp assignments for NPR back then and decided to accept the invitation when she was in Washington. It was going to be an afternoon meeting but it turned into a seafood dinner at a Union Station restaurant. Hersher’s original intent was sharing her views about needing to leave NPR to become a proper reporter. But Oreskes derailed it with relationship and sex talk. He ended the evening by hugging her.
“I went to the train station, and I called my best friend; I cried on the phone to her,” Hersher says. “I went home and then I cried to my boyfriend. It undercut my confidence in a way that was surprising to me.”
After reporting it to HR, Oreskes was reprimanded. But it wasn’t until November 1st when Michael stepped down. NPR shared his statement:
Oreskes said, “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.” He said he was grateful to his colleagues “for every minute I’ve had to work with each of you. . . . Public radio matters so much and I will always be your supporter.”
NPR named Christopher Turpin (VP of News Programming and Operations) to replace Oreskes until they can find a permanent candidate for the job.
Scoble’s background is in the tech world, most notable for serving as a tech evangelist at Microsoft. He later spent his time doing a bunch of startup gigs, which is where his personal history comes into question.
Robert Scoble’s downfall began with a Medium post from female journalist Quinn Norton. October 19th. It happened at an informal conference called Foo Camp, put on by the O’Reilly company. It’s meant for technology folks to socialize and bounce ideas around. According to Quinn, this casual atmosphere makes it easy for sexual harassment to breed.
In the early 2010s, Quinn was at a weekend campfire at Foo Camp. A drunk man and woman were making out. They did it in such a way that it became a spectacle to Norton and her pals. One of Quinn’s mates, Artur Bergman, tried distracting the woman with conversation, but she went back to making out soon after. Artur relayed his observations back to Quinn. The woman was so wasted she had no clue what was going on. The man continued funneling alcohol down her throat anyway.
This man eventually sat next to Norton around this campfire. A colleague introduced them. “Robert, this is Quinn Norton. Quinn, this is Robert Scoble, he’s dangerous,” they said. Scoble laughed the label off, saying he wasn’t dangerous at all. “I am,” Norton said.
“And then, without any more warning, Scoble was on me. I felt one hand on my breast and his arm reaching around and grabbing my butt. Scoble is considerably bigger than I am, and I realized quickly I wasn’t going to be able to push him away. Meanwhile, the people around just watched, in what I can only imagine was stunned shock. I got a hand free and used a palm strike to the base of his chin to knock him back. It worked, he flew back and struggled to get his feet under him. I watched his feet carefully for that moment. He was unbalanced from the alcohol and I realized if he reached for me again I could pull him forward, bounce his face off my knee, then drive it into the ground. (I knew this move because it had been done to me, then the martial arts expert who did it picked me up and apologetically showed me how to do it.) He laughed and rubbed his chin and said something like “I like this one, she has spirit.” I said this: “If you touch me again I will break your nose.” I could still feel his hands on me, his intentions, all of it. He laughed again, and I repeated, “If you touch me again I will break your nose.” He didn’t grab me again after that.”
Robert Scoble returned to making out with the woman like none of the above happened. During that scuffle, Quinn’s friend managed to determine the woman was incapable of consent at all, couldn’t even walk, and on top of all that was married. Two of Quinn’s friends took her away from the area and kept an eye on her for the rest of the night. Quinn Norton got in touch with Foo Camp’s management to make sure she’d still be able to come back next year despite going kung-fu on Robert Scoble. They said “sure.” But Norton ended up staying quiet about the incident for the woman’s sake. A few years later, Quinn met a female co-worker of Robert Scoble’s. She backed up the notion that harassment was part of the job description when under his employ.
During the changing of the day between October 19th and 20th, Buzzfeed published an article detailing more allegations against Scoble. Michelle Greer worked at Scoble’s Rackspace in 2009 and 2010, alleging Robert groped her at a 2010 tech conference. Working as a senior manager for Rackspace corporate communications, she went to the Startup Riot tech conference in Atlanta for work. Scoble went with her, as well as a few folks from Rackspace. They all ended up at the bar.
“I remember seeing him with two drinks in his hand,” she told BuzzFeed. “My boss sat next to me, and Scoble sits across from me and starts touching my leg.”
Greer excused herself to her room and relayed what happened on the phone to her boyfriend. A couple of days later back in San Francisco, Scoble’s producer boss spoke with Greer. “I’m so sorry, my employees will never touch you again,” he told her. Buzzfeed got a response from Robert on the matter. “What happened with Michelle happened with my boss,” and “other women in the room,” Scoble said.
The incident ended up tanking Michelle Greer’s work performance. To the extent that her boss let her go over it. Greer told HR everything at the exit interview. “They were like, why didn’t you come to us before? I was like, it’s Robert Scoble. If this gets out, he has the bigger megaphone than I do. I could be totally hosed.”
On Facebook, the two butted heads over the matter. Scoble liked Greer’s post about having terrible experiences working with bad actors in the industry.
A Business Insider article highlighted Proday Founder Sarah Kunst’s response to Quinn Norton’s post. According to her, Kunst was the target of verbal harassment by Robert and his wife back in 2014 at a conference in Idaho.
Later on October 20th, Robert Scoble did a USA TODAY interview where he apologized for his behavior. Robert Scoble revealed he entered AA in 2015, and that he suffered sexual abuse as a child.
“I did some things that are really, really hurtful to the women and I feel ashamed by that,” Scoble said. “I have taken many steps to try to get better because I knew some of this was potentially going to come out.”
Robert Scoble told USA TODAY he didn’t remember what happened at Foo Camp. He swears his harassment of women stopped once he entered AA.
“I apologize.I have damaged the trust many people had in me.I have made many steps in my life to try to improve, including getting sober more than two years ago.I have committed to making amends where appropriate and to living a life of transparency, integrity, and honesty.I’m deeply sorry to the people I’ve caused pain to. I know I have behaved in ways that were inappropriate. I apologize for that. The question is not if it happened or if anyone got hurt (they did) but how can I do better?I know that apologies are not enough and that they don’t erase the wrongs of the past or the present.The only thing I can do to really make a difference now is to prove, through my future behavior, and my willingness to listen, learn and change, that I want to become part of the solution going forward.”
Despite multiple claims of atonement, it turns out Scoble wasn’t being entirely transparent. In the comments section of Quinn Norton’s post, Sarah Seitz alleges that around “a year and a half ago” Robert Scoble wanted to have an affair with her. An anonymous woman came forward to TechCrunch to reveal Scoble made advances toward her when he got at a tech conference earlier this past year. Robert couldn’t help telling the woman how much he wanted to make out with her. Scoble ended up apologizing later on, then going the next mile to help further this woman’s career in what she says was a means of silencing her. Two additional women corroborate Scoble hadn’t changed his ways after pledging sobriety.
An email from Scoble to Guy Pearson that was shared to the public further cast doubt on the sincerity of Robert’s apology. As he states the allegations should “play out over a few days.”
Not so fast, Scoble. On October 22nd Shel Israel announced Scoble’s resignation as a partner with Transformation Group, LLC, via Facebook. Shel further says Robert canceled all public activities for the rest of 2017 so he’d be able to focus on confronting his issues.
In an unusual twist, Robert Scoble took to his blog on October 25th to deny committing any sort of sexual harassment. Scoble opens by saying he rejected his lawyer’s advice by doing this. But he’s going through with the blog post anyway for the sake of public dialogue. He makes a point of it, implying that such legal advice is part of the reason the industry hasn’t been able to have a proper discussion of these sorts of issues. Robert accuses TechCrunch and Business Insider as gossip blogs that generate clickbait. That they didn’t the proper vetting and checking when it came to this situation.
“Even the most rudimentary fact check by news outlets would have caught a few obvious things. If I were guilty of all the things said about me I would still not be in a position to have sexually harassed anyone. I don’t have employees, I don’t cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual Harassment requires that I have such power.”
His words, not mine.
Scoble accuses all of the women who came forward of using shards of truth to push a false narrative. He suggests they were bandwagoning off the #MeToo hashtag. Robert says he had an “online affair” with Sarah Seitz for a year. She allegedly knew he was married and didn’t give a hoot. They had very sexual conversations. But things ended up veering toward blackmailing him, with her threating to tell his wife. She did anyway and it damaged Scoble’s family. Robert talked to his friends and says other people were the target of Seitz’s online shaming. When it comes to Sarah Kunst (who Scoble points out is an African-American female), Robert says she misinterpreted his “Why are you here” statement as “why are you deserving of being here” instead. He says Kunst was so drunk she mistook someone else for Scoble and yelled at him in front of a group of people. Scoble says he apologized at the conference and apologizes again in the blog post. When it comes to Greer and Rackspace Robert chooses his wording careful. As part of the layoff agreement, he can’t speak negatively about the company. He further argues other people came forward and corroborate Michelle Greer was let go from the company for reasons unrelated to any interaction between Scoble and her.
When it comes to Quinn Norton, Robert Scoble points out she admits to having “physically accosted” him. He says she didn’t even know the woman’s name at the time they were making out, and not aware if it was consensual or not. As a reporter, he says Quinn didn’t report on the story for years and chose a social media outlet with zero necessity for fact-checking to tell it.
Another one of the Shitty Media Men ousted in the initial purge upon the list’s release. Up until that point, Rupert Myers was a political correspondent for GQ. Word already got around about his deeds before this juncture, but the Shitty Media Men fiasco was the tipping point. The story exposing Rupert Myers is a four–part tweet series from Kate Leaver, posted on October 19th.
“Ok, here goes. I haven’t told this story because I listened to the voice that told me it “wasn’t that bad” or “worth talking about”… When I moved to London, I wanted to make friends. I met @RupertMyers on Twitter and agreed to go for what I thought was a friendly drink. I was very clear about not being romantically or sexually interested in him, once the subject was raised. I suggested we be mates. He said “I’ve got enough mates, I’d rather fuck you” and forced himself on me outside a pub in Fitzrovia.”
Within an hour of posting that, British GQ announced they were giving Rupert Myers the boot.
Myers ended up making himself scarce and deleting his Twitter account. But before then he had a few things to say about the situation. His first apology version: “If you feel I have said or done anything towards you that was sub-optimal in the past you have my sincere and unreserved apologies.”
Realizing that probably came off the wrong way, Rupert deleted that and replaced the tweet with this.
Sam Kriss was a freelance journalist from the United Kingdom that had a solid arrangement with VICE. Someone posted a Facebook note on October 17th that’d end up having serious consequences for Sam Kriss.
“I had hoped I would never have to write this account. But watching a man who repeatedly groped me, twisted my neck to forcibly kiss me, ignored any attempt I made to stop him, and refused to ‘let me’ drink non-alcohol, unashamedly attack feminists online, use misogynist language, singling out women for ridicule time and time again, means I’ve not really been able to forget.”
She met Sam on Twitter and invited to a talk at her old school. Tickets ended up being sold out so Kriss suggested they grab a pint instead. She chose a pub nearby her house. There were “warning signs” on this dates of theirs, apparently. She saw Sam at a friend’s book launch later on. But things crossed the line when they went to the theater. She says Sam forced his tongue down her throat. “I don’t think we should kiss here – we might make the old folk jealous of our youthful affections,” she told him. “Well, if you’ve got it, flaunt it, I say!” Sam replied before returning to tonsil town. Someone behind the two groaned at the sight. “I’m not really a fan of PDAs,” she said, pushing Sam away. Kriss was relentless. This woman thought the horror was over when Sam put his arm around her. He twisted her head and forced his tongue down her throat some more. During the break, Kriss offered to get her a drink. But only if it was alcohol. “Wine. Wine is what you drink at the theatre. I’m buying you wine,” Sam said. When they got back to the theater, Sam’s date didn’t touch it. He ended up demanding it of her before downing the booze for himself.
“At this point I was planning my escape. How can I get away without pissing him off? Sam and I know lots of mutual people, we both exist on the Marxist far-Left. He’s a writer for Vice, the Guardian, various other outlets, he circulates around Momentum, and I didn’t want ‘any trouble’ then or later. Sam is, by his own words, from an incredibly wealthy, well-connected background, and therefore compared to me, very powerful. After the play finished he wanted to go ‘for a drink’. One drink, I thought, and then it’ll seem ‘normal’ to head off after. He won’t know how upset I am and I can forget how shit I feel about his neck-twisting, glass-flicking, general domineering behaviour.”
She tried ordering her own drink, but Sam took over and ordered for her anyway. After an effort trying to keep a distance from Sam, they sat indoors. Kriss tried kissing her once again. “I really don’t want to do this here and now,” she told him. “But look, they’re doing it!” Kriss replied as he pointed to another couple making out in the corner of the bar. Sam decided to copy what the other couple was doing and dragged his date off to a corner in the pub room. During this kiss session, she tolerated Kriss and his tongue dance. But now Sam demanded more, grabbing the woman’s breasts. She pulled back once he started doing that. The lady got up to go to the toilet and Kriss slapped her behind while walking by him. When she came back, Sam wanted her to come back to his parent’s house. She didn’t want to do that. Negotiations lasted for a solid hour. “Haha, but we’re in West London, you don’t know where you are! You’re stranded, you’ll have to come back to mine,” Kriss said.
The woman elected to take the bus home, and Sam used that opportunity to grab her honkers once more. She was relieved when the bus finally arrived. Kriss tried jumping on at the last minute, but the woman shoved him out the door and told the driver to get her out of there.
Sam issued a Medium post statement, apologizing for his actions.
“Today an allegation of sexual harassment and aggression was made against me, and I want to address it here. My behaviour was absolutely unacceptable, beneath both me and especially the person involved, and there’s no excuse for it. I’ve apologised privately to her, and I’m apologising, publicly, now.”
Buzzfeed News wrote an article on the matter. According to their sources within VICE, the company had no further plans to work with Kriss again.
On October 20th, the longtime Marilyn Manson bassist got in hot water. Twiggy Ramirez’s former girlfriend (who is also a musician) accused him of rape in a Facebook post.
Jessicka met Jeordie White (Twiggy) at age 18. They got into a relationship and moved in soon after. Their roommate was Pete, and he protected Jessicka when Jeordie’s rage got the better of him. Twiggy’s possessive side showed itself when Jessicka’s band Jack Off Jill got more popular.
“He got increasingly jealous when I hung out with male friends. He jumped into the New River as a protest to me giving a male friend a ride home. He began to body shame me. He slashed my tires. When I came home late one night, he put one of the stuffed animals he bought me into the burning oven in the kitchen. But, I stayed, because I was conditioned since a child to endure my abuser. And this for me… was love at 19.”
Physical abuse became a thing after a few months. Jeordie took a cage full of their white mice pets and dumped into Jessicka’s mother’s car. Addams remembers Twiggy punching her multiple times that day. He said it wouldn’t happen again but it did. The possessiveness got worse with situations like that time he stacked TVs in front of Jessicka’s car to trap her at home. Twiggy didn’t have a car, nor could he drive. Therefore in his eyes, neither will she. At one point, Trent Reznor dropped by for a visit and they all had an evening out. Trent and Addams chatted with each other and got along. This pissed Jeordie off. After demanding the group leave, they all stacked into Jessicka’s car. Twiggy took everyone for a dangerous drive. While doing so he proceeded to punch Jessicka’s chest and rip off the car’s rearview mirror and throw it out the window.
The rape happened during a break on the Nine Inch Nails tour they were opening for. Addams was now staying with friends. Twiggy was cheating on her and she knew he was. But Jeordie came back to the apartment and the two had a fight.
“He forced me on to the floor with his hand around my neck. I said NO. I said NO. I said it so loud enough, that Pete came rushing in from the other room to get him off of me. But I had been raped. I had been raped by somebody I thought I loved. That night I slept in Pete’s bed and cried myself to sleep. Neither of us discussed it until years later as we both had our own shame about not reporting it.”
This all happened at some point before 1997. According to Addams, Jack Off Jill’s record company said there was a good chance they’d all get blackballed by promoters, other bands, and radio folks if Jessicka went public with her story. Jeordie White was with Marilyn Manson’s band at that point, and there were fears they’d use their star power to retaliate.
But on October 21st, 2017 we’d hear from Manson himself. In response to the story, he gave this statement to Pitchfork Magazine:
“I knew Jessicka and Jeordie had a romantic relationship many years ago and I considered and still consider Jessicka to be a friend,” he said. “I knew nothing about these allegations until very recently and am saddened by Jessicka’s obvious distress.”
That was that.
The downfall of Tyler Malka and his website NeoGAF was a long time coming. I covered this topic in extreme detail earlier this year. But for those of you who haven’t heard of him, the down-low of it is pretty simple.
Tyler Malka was an internet forum lurker on Gaming Age Forums, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Through luck, Malka worked his way up in the community. To the extent that he became their leader through some turbulent times and site migration. This led him to seize ownership of NeoGAF when it was officially launched on April 4th, 2006. The key distinction with NeoGAF over other forums was the rigorous admission process. Sign-ups for accounts required manual approval by the site’s administration or moderators. You couldn’t use any old Gmail or Yahoo account either. It needed a legitimate looking school or business email, as a sign you aren’t some random shmuck troll. In theory (adding all the emphasis possible on this), NeoGAF was a video game industry discussion hub. It stayed up to date on not just new releases, but scandals and news too. The site gained a reputation for the amount of “insiders” and “leakers” that’d lurk there. In practice, NeoGAF’s community was a twisted cesspool of cancer. The moderators of the website had a habit of banning all dissent, to the point that the overall left-leaning political narrative they maintained faced scrutiny. The spotlight had been on the moderators themselves in the past. As they encountered controversies of their own doing (including at least one mod getting arrested for child pornography).
Every time a moderator got into trouble, the gaming community asked how much more the site could take before buckling. On October 19th we got an answer to that.
It started with Texas filmmaker Ima Leupp telling her story on Facebook. While she didn’t name Malka in the original post, she told people “google evilore” (Malka’s alias) in the comments. The only reason the post got any traction was their sister shared the story on NeoGAF. That thread was insta-nuked by the moderators. By October 21st, the small-talk going on behind the scenes erupted when NeoGAF moderators began walking out. Word was getting around beforehand but this was the tipping point. The first notable moderator to leave was Besada. Soon we found out that number was up to four, walking away from their post. It was around this time the site was going up and down, with 503 Service Unavailable being the common error message. After that, it came out NeoGAF admins were leaving too. As more moderators left and the heat intensified, there were database errors as well. Soon all that remained was one admin, out of the five that were there beforehand. For people who want a play by play, click here. For more on the aftermath of NeoGAF’s downfall, slide over here.
The site went dark for a short time. People thought that was it. Game over.
The first we heard back from Malka was on October 23rd over at Waypoint. They did an article explaining the situation in great detail. As the original post says, Leupp and Malka had a night of heavy drinking. This happened in April 2015 during a road trip to New Orleans. So much in fact, that it caused Ima to get sick in their hotel room. While cleaning up her puke, Tyler Malka approached Ima Leupp “fully naked” from behind. Ima was put in a compromising spot since she had a boyfriend. Leupp told Malka she wasn’t a cheater. After that, Tyler became resentful toward her during the rest of their New Orleans road trip. Eventually, Leupp and her boyfriend broke up, which Ima blames in part due to this incident. The two had some history. Tyler was an actor on one of Leupp’s film shoots earlier on in 2015.
It wasn’t until now Ima came forward. She was afraid of retaliation. Something to that effect came from Malka as he emailed back and forth with Waypoint. Tyler called Leupp “a deeply disturbed, malicious individual,” saying the two haven’t spoken in years. He alleges that incident was “totally harmonious and consensual.”
“I pretty clearly remember closing the door,” Ima said in response. “Maybe not closing it all the way, but closing it enough so that I was protected. I wasn’t getting naked in front of him and then going ‘Oh, I’m going to puke. You wanna come in the shower with me? That’s fucking gross.”
Tyler lashed back further. He said Leupp’s apparent taking down of the Facebook post after it started making the rounds was evidence she was making it up. Ima replied she didn’t take it down at all. Just made the post private so random people wouldn’t come poking around her personal profile.
“I didn’t delete it out of shame or anything, I just got afraid,” Ima told Waypoint. “I never meant to out him publicly. I never meant to have any of this happen. It was a story that had come up. Instead of just reposting a hashtag, I thought if I described some more details of certain situations that it would become more real for friends in my life.”
Leupp says she was polyamorous and had an open relationship with her boyfriend at the time. She even chalked up the New Orleans incident as a one-off. “I had no reason not to trust him still,” Leupp said. “It was a creepy thing, but I tend to give people second chances. He had already invited me to go to E3.” Malka’s and Leupp’s relationship did include consensual sex at one point. But the two ended up having a falling out after the E3 trip to Los Angeles.
That wasn’t the first time NeoGAF’s Tyler Malka got into trouble with women.
Back in 2012, Tyler Malka was globe-trotting. He shared his experiences with NeoGAF, and things got rough around Spain. People picked up on the fact Malka admitted to groping a woman at a bar.
“At one point in a bar a girl who didn’t speak any English came up to me and started flirting heavily, then went straight into asking me to buy her a drink, as Itxaka translated when I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I laughed, because drinks here were all of two Euros, but consented and then grabbed her ass hard to show that I wasn’t being taken advantage of, and she thought better of treating me as a mark and left without taking her drink.”
“She started the grabbing. We were joking and laughing about the whole thing and I saw her later that night and the joking and laughing continued.The outraged feminist posturing in this thread couldn’t be further from the truth.”
He found himself on the defense trying to justify what happened. Trapped within the confines of his own words. There wouldn’t be much of a resolution, either. Malka’s coping mechanism in these matters involves deleting the thread and moving on with life. Five years later an alternative take on the events that happened back then emerged. This became known after I published my articles about NeoGAF, coming from a first-hand source from that night.
“So it was San Fermin in my city (Pamplona) so its a party 24/7. Tyler had come for several days to run in front of the bulls and have some partying.
So I think the second day we were out, we went from bar to bar with a group of my friends, it was pretty late I guess, I was already drunk for several hours and this friend(the boyfriend of the girl) was in the bar that we arrived to, so he came with us and we started talking, drinking and so on.
So his girlfriend, which was an acquaintance of mine, asks me about Tyler to know who he is and whats he doing there. to put in context, most of my friends speak zero english, so Im the official translator during the night.
I tell this girl who Tyler is and so on, so she says “Im gonna get him to pay for a drink” (yeah, shes not the nicest girl around for sure…) and goes up to him and ask for that in spanish. I get closer and translate to him, he looks at me and at her and says ok. By this time, he knows she’s the girlfriend of my friend as introductions were already made.
So they get closer to the bar and come back later as the bar was full, the girl comes up to me and says something to the tune of (Cant remember the exact words) “This fucking guy just grabbed my ass, the fucking dick. Fuck him, at least I got a drink out of this, the fucking asshole” and she goes back to her boyfriend.
I go back to him and ask about, and he says “Yeah I grabbed her ass as a power move, nobody takes advantage of me. If she wants a drink, shes gotta work for that”
So by that time Im a bit puzzled and go back to the boyfriend, and of course he’s mad, I talk to him, I explain what a fucking clown Tyler is and of course the boyfriend wants to kick his ass, I mean the guy just grabbed his girlfriend ass knowing that he was there. Anyway, I talk him out of it, mainly explaining how fucking insecure Tyler is, and that the alcohol may be making him do stupid things (I did not see him do anything stupid like that the other days).”
However, the demise of NeoGAF had permanent effects. This is seen in the ResetERA off-shoot forum that came to be afterward. Their community is made up of the members of NeoGAF who were left stranded during the controversy and downtime on the site. This epiphany of dependency led them to create their own fresh site somewhere else. Tyler Malka wanted to just get NeoGAF back up and running, and continue like before this incident. Malka even made a policy change to disallow political discussions. But the point was moot.
The people who he assumed were coming back were long gone now.
As demonstrated here, the userbase didn’t share that sentiment. There was a period of open rebellion against site management.
Game journalist Kallie Plagge used the #MeToo hashtag to tell people a story of her own. Back in 2016 while working at IGN, she and another female employee had to deal with sexual harassment from IGN editor Vince Ingenito. The two ladies were subjected to a mix of abusive comments, awkward compliments, and sexual remarks. It was egregious enough that Kallie felt obligated to report it to HR and upper management in June 2016. They told Plagge to have “better judgment” in who she associates with. Her boss wanted her to not be “uptight” around Vince and HR implied Plagge used her body to prove him. Kallie was forced to sign a document saying she behaved inappropriately, and that she’d be fired if it happened again. She managed to survive six more months at IGN until leaving, and she cites the Vince incident as a major factor. All Ingenito got was a stern talking to in comparison, and despite that, he continued to violate Plagge’s personal boundaries.
Plagge interviewed with Kotaku where she discussed the matter further.
Vincent Ingenito was quick to respond to Plagge. In a series of tweets, he stated how he misread their friendship. Vincent thought he could be “very personal” with her because Kallie shared the same with him. Ingenito admits he believed she felt uncomfortable with their friendship, and that there are “legal limits” about what he can say towards the allegations made against him. Ingenito shares the final exchange he had with Plagge, where they confronted the situation that developed. Vincent says he handed over his phone and worked for home over the course of two weeks, to comply with the investigation. The conclusion was that he didn’t harass her, and was asked to change seats to keep things more comfortable. When it comes to the continued interaction, Ingenito says he was allowed under the pretense it was only work-related. On top of all that, Vincent denies making any sort of sexual comments about Plagge.
November 13th, Alanah Pearce announces there wouldn’t be an IGN Daily Fix until management acknowledged the Kallie Plagge situation. It’s worth pointing out this was only a week after Pearce got the job hosting Daily Fix. That evening IGN released their statement. It starts off by acknowledging their failure to deal with the situation, and explaining they as a company sat down and had a two-hour meeting about the situation.
“We care deeply about what we do, and we hope our passion for video games and entertainment shines through in our articles, videos, and podcasts every day. But we care even more deeply about each other, and we will continue to fight to make this right for the past, present, and certainly the future. Any future allegations will be taken extremely seriously, and we are actively working to ensure that everyone on our team feels like they work in a safe environment; we will not tolerate the exclusion or mistreatment of any people. The human resources representative who oversaw this situation originally is no longer with the company, and our current HR rep has been transparent and willing to listen to ideas and suggestions for how to create a better work environment going forward.”
An update added later outlines the next steps the outlet is taking. Mitch Galbraith (EVP and GM) and Peer Schneider (CCO and Co-Founder) apologized for the situation, personally. In steps taken forward, they announced the hiring of an independent consultant that will review how the matter at hand was handled, and the company’s general HR practices.