Shitty Media Men (And Those Who Defend Them)
January 11, 2018 2:18 PM   Subscribe

As part of the pushback against sexual harassment and abuse that has become part of our societal discussion, the existence of the "Shitty Media Men" list was revealed. Containing the names of men in media who had histories of sexual harassment and abuse, this document had circulated among women in media, as a form of protection. And as part of that protection, its creator remained anonymous.

Until now. And it was not of her own volition that she revealed herself, but did so in response to news that Harper's Magazine had plans to out her via an expose from Katie Roiphe in their March volume.

The condemnation of both Roiphe and Harper's has been quick in coming. Brianna Wu pointed to her own experiences to illustrate the recklessness of the planned article, while former Toast editor Nicole Cliffe is offering writers money to pull pieces they have with Harper's. Vox has a piece on why her outing reveals the need for the list in the first place.
posted by NoxAeternum (87 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
(Yes, I know her name is out there. But given that she was outed by force, I intentionally omitted it.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:20 PM on January 11 [41 favorites]


Roiphe's response has been completely confusing to me. She is quoted as saying that she never planned to out the list-maker, and yet a Harper's "fact checker" called the list-maker and asked if 1. She was in fact the right person and 2. If she had a comment.

These things don't square in my mind.
posted by Toddles at 2:28 PM on January 11 [23 favorites]




It's not very confusing to me. Roiphe is a liar and a creep, which is nothing surprising given her history.
posted by tavella at 2:36 PM on January 11 [60 favorites]


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her? Why would you shine light on this list, which could be dangerous? And why would Harper's support this endeavor?

I'm gonna end up cancelling my subscription, aren't I?

Fuck.
posted by uberchet at 2:44 PM on January 11 [18 favorites]


It's so weird to me that they're still relying on Katie Roiphe to be the woman who gives cover to patriarchal creeps. There's nobody who's done anything in the past two decades who can play that role? I guess they couldn't get Phyllis Schlafley because she's dead?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:45 PM on January 11 [31 favorites]


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her? Why would you shine light on this list, which could be dangerous?

Denying sexism is sort of Roiphe's beat. She made her name with a story arguing that date rape wasn't that common.
posted by drezdn at 2:48 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


> Roiphe's response has been completely confusing to me.

Forget it, Jake. It's Katie Roiphe.
posted by languagehat at 2:50 PM on January 11 [41 favorites]


She is quoted as saying that she never planned to out the list-maker,

Indeed, can we ever really "know" anything? Such epistemeological conundrums like the difference between "knowing" and "believing" and reporting something as "truth" and reporting it as "widely-believed" or "understood" would work very, very well to shield Roiphe from criticism that she was going to "out" someone. Especially if you're Roiphe and want to throw of a lot of bullshit, obfuscation, and not-quite-lies.

Even though something like "This person, [NAME], is widely thought to have created [DOCUMENT]" is pretty obviously outing them.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:53 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


Nicole Cliffe said she was prepared to lay down $20k (or maybe she actually did) to bury this story. Looks like it worked, but then the creator came out saying that a fact checker contacted her before publishing, and in the process showed that Roiphe lied to the NYT about whether she was playing to out the creator with the support of Harpers.
posted by Yowser at 2:54 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Katie Roiphe has been hardcore victim blaming since the 90s. Katha Pollitt wrote this review for the 10/4/93 New Yorker about Katie Roiphe's "The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus".
posted by demonic winged headgear at 2:54 PM on January 11 [19 favorites]


Donegan's eloquence is really impressive, but her courage is awe-inspiring. This was an incredibly brave thing to do. It was also kind of awesome of her to undercut Roiphe and Harper's like this.

Also, fuck Roiphe and Harper's for putting her in this position. Fuck them a lot. I'm genuinely moved by Donegan here, but they don't deserve any credit for the pressure they put on her. Only scorn.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:59 PM on January 11 [31 favorites]


Please don't use her name. She didn't willingly come out, but was forced out by an individual who has made her career on downplaying sexual harassment, assault, and rape.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:02 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


[The subject of this whole thing chose to out herself - under duress, yes, but the cat's out of the bag here and there's not any virtue in trying to keep everyone from saying her name. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:05 PM on January 11 [43 favorites]


It's not only unconscionable to out her, it's something a psychopath who wanted to inflict real pain and suffering and possibly death would do.
posted by treepour at 3:06 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


> It's so weird to me that they're still relying on Katie Roiphe to be the woman who gives cover to patriarchal creeps. There's nobody who's done anything in the past two decades who can play that role?

Up here in Canada we have Barbara "What About Teh Poor MENZ???" Kay.

> I'm gonna end up cancelling my subscription, aren't I?

I've had a subscription for about 15 years now. Generally it arrives in my mailbox, I read the one or two articles that actually interest me (to be fair, they still knock it out of the park now and again) and then I leave it in the break room at work. When I get my subscription renewal in the mail I consider not renewing it and then decide to because it's so cheap. Maybe this is it, though.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:06 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Also, fuck Roiphe and Harper's

This.
posted by Fizz at 3:07 PM on January 11


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her?

To punish those who out creeps. People like that make it by bullying and terrorizing, and they need enablers to keep out quality.

Why would you shine light on this list, which could be dangerous?

Of course it would be dangerous. That's a power play and why it was done to discourage future whistleblowers.

And why would Harper's support this endeavor?

Harper's is patriarchal sophistry at its worst. This is the same magazine that gave Stephen Glass $10000 to write about phone psychics, which he just made up. When I want to practice tearing apart articles that have weak facts and logic, I go read Harper's for my warm up.

I'm gonna end up cancelling my subscription, aren't I?


You mean, people still have them?
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:08 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


I've had a subscription for about 15 years now. Generally it arrives in my mailbox, I read the one or two articles that actually interest me (to be fair, they still knock it out of the park now and again)

Maybe pirate it for those few articles and say cancel your subscription because this is shitty behaviour and the company/editors need to know this kind of shit is not to be tolerated. Ugh.
posted by Fizz at 3:08 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


What's impressive to me is that the creator of the list, under both pressure and an external deadline, turned in a highly quotable and insightful article.
posted by Merus at 3:16 PM on January 11 [21 favorites]


Yeah, done, with the reason for the cancellation explained in full. Fuck that shit.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:17 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


Conservative heroes fundraise when they are harmed as a consequence of their political actions.

Chris Cantwell, the Charlottesville Nazi, raised $40k. As an example.

Moira Donegan lost her job. Is there a GoFundMe for her?

She says in this essay "I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself."

Money doesn't fix everything, but it is a kind of protection. I would contribute.
posted by imabanana at 3:17 PM on January 11 [42 favorites]


Also, can I just point out how awesome Cliffe's move is? She gets that an author pulling a piece means taking a paycheck away from them, which is a MASSIVE ask - so she doesn't just ask, but puts up the money so that the financial hit is on her, not the writer.

That is a class move.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:18 PM on January 11 [98 favorites]


You mean, people still have them?
You mean, people still respond this way to show how cool they are?

In point of fact, though, *I* don't have one anymore, as of 30 seconds ago.
posted by uberchet at 3:20 PM on January 11 [37 favorites]


What's impressive to me is that the creator of the list, under both pressure and an external deadline, turned in a highly quotable and insightful article.

Seconded. I saw this article make the rounds on Twitter last night, and I thought it an excellent, thoughtful, and insightful piece. Particularly the description of the speed at which the document grew and expanded. The creator of the list did a great thing in creating it, but many, many more individuals contributed to it, which speaks to the universality of the problem of sexual harassment and abuse in our society.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:28 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I'm just horrified at this whole thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:32 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Nicole Cliffe said she was prepared to lay down $20k (or maybe she actually did)

She did, and has said that the writers (all women) are now free to do what they want with their stories, even sell them back to Harper's.
posted by rewil at 3:36 PM on January 11 [18 favorites]


I had a subscription to Harper's that, conveniently enough, was up for renewal this month. I declined to renew and told them why, though I'm just another voice from the bog.
posted by sculpin at 4:00 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


"Voices from the bog"? Is everyone who works at Harper's the same age as the magazine itself?
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:09 PM on January 11 [10 favorites]


From Gabrielle Ross, editor of Bustle:
@Gaby_Moss: Just for fun, here's an article Katie Roiphe's wrote in 1993, where she essentially says, "If the rape epidemic was real, wouldn't there be a whisper network??"
Here's the NYT article that she includes a screenshot from:
If sexual assault was really so pervasive, it seemed strange that the intricate gossip networks hadn't picked up more than one or two shadowy instances of rape. If I was really standing in the middle of an "epidemic," a "crisis" -- if 25 percent of my women friends were really being raped -- wouldn't I know it?
Someone else on Twitter pointed out that maybe Roiphe didn't "know it" because she doesn't have any women friends. Like, she thinks they're her friends but they think she's more of an acquaintance and/or don't trust her with their confidence.
posted by mhum at 4:20 PM on January 11 [62 favorites]


All the anti-list arguments remind me of when Beth Stelling (the comedian) put photos of her bruises on Instagram and her ex’s name got out. Specifically, when Stelling (if I remember correctly) wrote on the post that her ex had asked her not to name him in her act because people knew he was her boyfriend. Like—-this idea that the WOMAN, whether it’s the women on the list or any victim, is wrong for telling the story of someone else’s horrific behavior. Like it’s not enough that the victim has to carry the act(s), but she’s also responsible for 100% of all future fallout including the career health of the abuser AND the toxic threats/behavior from internet trolls. Nope. So yeah, edgy contrarians and/or deluded apologizer-writers, you can keep your think pieces thanks.
posted by Kemma80 at 4:46 PM on January 11 [37 favorites]


In that quote of her writing from an NYT article, she makes a critical error:
it seemed strange that the intricate gossip networks
The correct word is "my", rather than "the":
it seemed strange that my intricate gossip networks
(And with that in place, it flows better with the rest of the paragraph using "my", too.)
posted by crysflame at 4:46 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


But that would mean that Roiphe would have to be able to admit fault.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:16 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna end up cancelling my subscription, aren't I?

I'm going to give it the weekend to decide, but I'm leaning towards cancelling. On the whole I like the magazine, but no part of this was classy in any way.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:16 PM on January 11


What's impressive to me is that the creator of the list, under both pressure and an external deadline, turned in a highly quotable and insightful article.

Not to downplay it at all, but she's probably been writing it in her head since the list initially went viral and she realized how big of a deal this was all going to be. She probably realized it was only a matter of when, not if, at that point. I say this as a writer and editor who has agonized over and mentally composed justifications and rebuttals regarding far lesser choices that might have seemed compromising to my objectivity and professionalism in the eyes of some—like should I be outspoken or politically active in my free time, should I donate to causes I care about, how honest should I be in answering questions from the perspective of my personal experience online, should I put this bumper sticker on my car, etc. In re ethics, I believe much more in transparency and full disclosure and independence than in the specter of alleged objectivity. That's not a popular point of view in many journalism circles, though.

Anyway, I digress. Her piece is beautiful and shows an impressive synthesis of the current media climate and the events surrounding this series of revelations. I hope there's a media outlet out there that picks up on that and makes her a great offer. Meanwhile, I'd gladly donate to any fund that gets set up for her.

The thing I was thinking about earlier is how quickly this has all escalated, and how nice it would be if at some point soon the norms of discourse have shifted so far that seemingly incendiary decisions I made about use of my own free speech in, say, 2008 or 2014 seem, in retrospect, like the obvious right choice—like when I put that bumper sticker on my car in 2008, or like when I couldn't sleep at night in 2014 unless I spoke out and followed my conscience when writing, editing, and speaking about what I was seeing happen on the ground in Ferguson. (To paraphrase High Fidelity, "Some people never got over 'Nam, or the night their band opened for Nirvana. I guess I never really got over Ferguson.") This is probably wishful thinking, but man, I'm wishing so hard for a future like that.
posted by limeonaire at 6:25 PM on January 11 [16 favorites]


In addition to Roiphe's horribly thought out tweet above, the verified Harper's account is retweeting this story by Alyssa Rosenberg which tries to justify the outing.

Hey, Alyssa - there is no justification for endangering someone.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:31 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Nicole Cliff is one of my favorite people on Twitter.

And all I have to say about Roiphe is I know tons of women who have been date raped including myself, so her opinion is invalid.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:36 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


It actually doesn't justify the outing. Is says the outing would be justified if the list's originator were a really prominent media person like Jill Abramson or if the list had been intentionally misused by conservative trolls. Since neither of those things is true, I think it's at best a defense of the idea that they might have fact-checked that she was the list's originator without intending to name her. And since Roiphe claimed not even to know the originator's name, it doesn't absolve her of the accusation that she lied.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:40 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her?

Wants to be first on the shitty women in media list? She's the crab at bottom of the bucket, pulling the others back.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:16 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Moira Donegan lost her job. Is there a GoFundMe for her?

TNR claims she didn't lose her job because of the list, FWIW.
A spokesperson for the New Republic told Vox that Donegan did not leave the magazine because of the list.
Seems likely she will need a legal defense fund, though.
posted by Coventry at 7:40 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Nicole Cliffe said she was prepared to lay down $20k (or maybe she actually did) to bury this story.

She may not have paid $20K, but she did put down some real money.

Nicole Cliffe tweet: "(I have two takers so far, thank you so so much for standing up against this shitassery. Remember that cash the day you kill it is SO much easier than invoicing!)"
posted by jonp72 at 8:09 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


People who came of age in the 1960s have acid flashbacks.

People who came of age in the 1990s, like me, have Katie Roiphe flashbacks.

Baby Boomers suck.
posted by jonp72 at 8:10 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Katie Roiphe is 100% Gen X.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:15 PM on January 11


Katie Roiphe is 100% Gen X.

I was referring to the acid flashbacks. The Metafilter de-humorizer strikes again.
posted by jonp72 at 8:32 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


"Those who forget history..." is now applicable to the internet. Does anyone else remember The Dick List?
posted by BigBrooklyn at 8:45 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I don’t know when Harpers decided bullshit contrarian click bait was the way to go with cover stories, but between last months stupid take on gay marriage and the decision to publish anything by Katie Roiphe — who either willfully misrepresents complicated situations or is actually kind of stupid — I’m killing my subscription.

I mean, I’ll miss some of the fiction in translation, and the Index was always fun. But as cheap as $12 is, if you’re moving into the market for hot takes and doxxing, you’re competing with twitter and reddit comments, and the going rate is free.
posted by mrmurbles at 10:00 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


Is it clear that Harper's intended to out Donegan? Fact checkers never verify background data which is not to be published?

I ask because I remembered it was a fact checker who revealed Deep Throat's identity to Nixon. But I don't know how he came to know that. It could be that he learned of it incidentally, not as party of the fact-checking operation.
posted by Coventry at 10:19 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Or, at any rate, a lawyer in the fact-checking department did .
posted by Coventry at 10:20 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


This was Donegan's quote of the email she got:
“Katie identifies you as a woman widely believed to be one of the creators of the Shitty Men in Media List...Were you involved in creating the list? If not, how would you respond to this allegation?”
I'm much more inclined to believe that Harper's threw their hard-working fact checker under the bus to retcon a shitty decision than both the fact checker and a highly competent and experienced writer both failed to understand a basic mechanism of publishing.
posted by Phire at 11:56 PM on January 11 [22 favorites]


[Alyssa Rosenberg's article] actually doesn't justify the outing. It says the outing would be justified if the list's originator were a really prominent media person like Jill Abramson or if the list had been intentionally misused by conservative trolls.

Even if I were inclined to believe this BS, which I'm not -- what sense does that even make?!?
"I wasn't going to out her, except that shithead alt-right trolls misused her list, so now I'm going to out her?"
posted by msalt at 12:08 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Also, it definitely sounds like Nicole paid up:
"I’m flighty but I’m not dropping 20 g’s bc someone on Twitter said they heard a thing might be a thing. The piece was happening, and Katie is not a trustworthy person, and the source was contacted and *terrified.*"
I wish the NYT article had mentioned that she turned down Wu's offer to split the cost.
posted by Phire at 12:13 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


Even if I were inclined to believe this BS, which I'm not -- what sense does that even make?!?

It's possible she could have made the claim in the article, "I have investigated the source of the list and confirmed it was not created by some right-wing troll to smear men for political reasons."
posted by straight at 12:43 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


I mean, that doesn't at all seem to be what Roiphe was up to, but you can at least conceive of a reason for a fact checker to be verifying the source of the list without the article intending to name who it was, which is all that Rosenberg was trying to say.
posted by straight at 12:49 AM on January 12


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her? Why would you shine light on this list, which could be dangerous? And why would Harper's support this endeavor?

Roiphe is a rape apologist, so exactly the kind of person to write an article like this, which is of course intended to create an example out of somebody who dared to put a stand against the rampant sexual harassment in the media.

Harper's didn't go along with it; they commissioned it, probably because one or more higher ups at the publication, or their shitty friends, were in danger of being outed as shitty media men.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:59 AM on January 12 [18 favorites]


It's possible she could have made the claim in the article, "I have investigated the source of the list and confirmed it was not created by some right-wing troll to smear men for political reasons."

Maybe, but I can't believe that, if that were true, the fact-checker would not offer some words of reassurance that she would not be outed. Also, the fact-checker asked for an on-the-record response, which pretty much refutes that otherwise reasonable theory.
posted by msalt at 1:06 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Harper's has been increasingly shitty since Lewis Lapham left. I'd cancel my subscription, too, if I hadn't already.
posted by joedan at 1:30 AM on January 12


I think that Rosenberg is approaching the question as a journalist, and she’s missing some super-relevant context about Katie Roiphe not being a journalist and actually being a polemicist who has made her career defending the kind of abuse that the Shitty Media Men list was meant to combat and that was likely to be directed at the list’s originator if she were identified. So in theory, you could say that it’s ok to do the reporting and then make a decision about the ethics of naming the list originator, but in practice it’s not reasonable to expect people to have faith in Katie Roiphe’s journalistic ethics, especially given how much was at stake for the women who made the list.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:47 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


SPJ Professional Ethics! lol. sometimes, it is about Ethics in Journalism.

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.

– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.

– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.

– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.

– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.

– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.

– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.

posted by eustatic at 5:39 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


I'm still just super baffled by this whole thing. I mean, why would you try to out her?

It is my experience that women who participate in regressive acts like exposing victims anonymity or defending an abuser are subconsciously trying to ignore their own trauma. The thought process being: Date rape isn't that common because if its common then I may have to deal with the fact that I was date raped.

Also until recently, women who "bought in" to the system would have an easier time in their careers. If you didn't make a big stink and were a "cool girl" then you would get more work.

Its maddening and upsetting but ultimately makes me feel sad for these women.
posted by teamKRL at 6:27 AM on January 12 [5 favorites]


I also appreciated Lexi Alexander's Spartacus moment where she took the credit/blame for the list in an attempt to protect Donegan. She said she got a ton of credible and scary threats for the brief time that people thought she was really responsible. (Her twitter is currently deleted so she can focus on work, but I'm sure there are screenshots.)

From her summary on her blog: "But of course, when someone texts me and explains that a young woman's safety is at stake and if I would participate in some type of Spartacus campaign, I can hardly say no...given that teaching women self-defense and personal safety is kind of my thing.

Little did I know that a whole bunch of people, people who should really know better, thought it was completely believable that I have the scoop on who the scumbags are in New York based media outlets. ??????

Now stop talking shit about me and why I left Twitter and instead focus on helping the young woman who created that list or punch someone whose name is on the list in the head."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:38 AM on January 12 [13 favorites]


if that were true, the fact-checker would not offer some words of reassurance that she would not be outed

I'm a fact-checker and yes, this is exactly correct. I contact background sources all the time, both to double-check the information they passed on and to confirm that the writer is abiding by the terms of their agreement with the source. If their anonymity is sensitive, I will usually ask the writer to reach out to them first and explain that I will be calling. And when I contact the source, I make it clear, absolutely first thing, that they are on background.

If a person is named by a quoted source (""John Doe was in the room when it happened,' he said."), it is the writer's job to run that by the named person -- though some writers are lazy and I end up doing it myself.

None of this is the case here. If the fact-checker is saying "“Katie identifies you as a woman widely believed to be one of the creators of the Shitty Men in Media List," that means exactly what it sounds like: KATIE IDENTIFIES YOU.
posted by neroli at 6:50 AM on January 12 [47 favorites]


I mean, I’ll miss some of the fiction in translation
So my sources are mostly in the speculative domain, but Samovar runs translated SFF and poetry on a quarterly schedule, and Clarkesworld also has a monthly translated-SFF feature (primarily Chinese SF).

Poking around Rachel Cordasco's writeups (she runs a SFF in translation blog), there's also the genre-agnostic Words Without Borders zine, which -- while I don't have personal experience with it as with the other two -- does seem to be still going strong, and not only includes fiction of all kinds but also essays and poetry.
posted by inconstant at 7:08 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


I'm a Harper's subscriber who is disappointed in all this and is interested exploring options for a monthly USAian printed magazine that features both in-depth national and international news coverage from a leftist perspective, and competent literary and cultural criticism aimed at the educated layman. I can take or leave the fiction. Is there a competitor?
posted by Kwine at 11:38 AM on January 12


It it also pleasing that Roiphe is learning the hard way about The Ratio. (She currently stands at about 6.5/1, well in "you really should have thought harder about this tweet" territory.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:27 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]


I've maintained a subscription to Harper's for 20+ years largely on the strength of its being free of Caitlin Flanagan. But she just writes endless boneheaded dilations about how she hired a nanny or didn't, or whatever pointless horseshit, and either therefore or nevertheless everybody but her is a failed woman. She sucks, but she's not out to get anybody murdered. Plus her rag, The Atlantic, shitty though they be, endorsed Clinton in 2016. I hope you're reading this, Harper's, you Ps OS. You can fuck right off. Consider yourselves dicklisted.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:55 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Ugh, Margaret Atwood retweeted Andrew Sullivan's shitty essay. Et tu, Margaret?
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:38 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Et tu, Margaret?

She recently penned an editorial in the G&M: Am I a bad feminist? Her attempt to explain her involvement with the Stephen Galloway incident at UBC. Previously.
posted by Fizz at 9:46 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


> I'm a fact-checker and yes, this is exactly correct. I contact background sources all the time, both to double-check the information they passed on and to confirm that the writer is abiding by the terms of their agreement with the source.

I was a factchecker at Harper's and I wouldn't've contacted her in this situation, as I understand it. If she had been a source for the writer, then yes -- but not if she was unnamed in the article and not a source of information. Our goal was to verify what the writer said, not do more reporting for them.

This was a long time ago. Maybe things have changed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:11 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


Our goal was to verify what the writer said, not do more reporting for them.

I can't find the links to this but I seem to recall seeing a bunch of discussion on Twitter where there was one faction (mainly journalists but some fact checkers) that said that it was definitely not okay to get fact checkers to do essentially the reporter's reporting and then there was another faction (mostly fact checkers but also some journalists) who were like "lol, yeah but it happens all the time." So, I get the impression that it is considered quite poor form to farm out reporting to a fact checker but sloppy and/or lazy reporters will do it sometimes.
posted by mhum at 4:09 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I mean, fact-checkers, copy-editors, and proofreaders—the people who actually have to fix your shit and then are held accountable for the results—think it's poor form. In my experience as someone who started off as all of the above, I'm not sure if writers and editors always care about that. A lot of editors oddly enough don't care and almost see errors found as a blocker to the process, occasionally blaming copy-editors for that rather than any shitty writers they hire. Sadly, the value of "how much anyone cares about fact-checking, proofreading, or copy-editing" tends to drop significantly along with "time left to deadline" and/or "money left in the budget." It's fairly remarkable that this fact-checker got in touch with the creator of the list in the first place, i.e., the process worked the way it should. Too often, antsy and impatient editors circumvent the process and push through whatever they want to see on the page. Then the lowly copy desk or the editorial team or company as a whole takes the fall, depending upon the seriousness of any errors or actionable items that get through.
posted by limeonaire at 11:35 AM on January 17


Also? Whaddaya wanna bet that blessed fact-checker, if a freelancer (or perhaps even if it was someone on staff), has undergone some major questioning and/or possible dismissal or demotion for having been too transparent with the subject? Our opinions here clearly differ as to whether best practice would've included sharing that much info or even contacting the then-alleged list creator, and I fear they may end up paying dearly for that. A hat tip to the list creator for not outing that person in reverse.
posted by limeonaire at 11:45 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Roiphe's piece is now out. Unsurprisingly, it's of the "we're now facing public opposition to our position that all this isn't really sexual harassment, so we're being silenced" variety which has been her ouvoire. Instead, it's worth reading Rebecca Traister's response, in which she simply points out the truth - No One Is Silencing Katie Roiphe.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:28 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]




Also, to no one's surprise, Roiphe throws her fact-checker under the bus. From an interview/podcast with Isaac Chotiner at Slate (emph. & commentary added):
Q: [...] But the reason this all started is that you were working on a piece for Harper’s. There was a story in the New York Times that essentially said you were going to out the creator of the list.

A: That’s not exactly what happened, actually.

Q: OK, please tell.

A: [...] I had heard the rumor that she created the list, and I first tried to reach out to her and she wouldn’t talk to me [mhum- yeah, no shit], so then I asked a fact-checker to reach out to her.

And the fact-checker may have written a bit aggressively. She also wrote to the journalist friend you were quoting earlier, telling her that I was “naming” her in the piece. She used the word “naming.” And the journalist friend, who was anonymous in the piece, was a little taken aback also, even though I wasn’t at all naming at her [mhum- narrator voice: she was]. It was a little overzealous on the fact-checker’s part. I thought that when the fact-checker reached out to Moira—I had many reasons to believe that Moira might want to claim responsibility for the list. There were signs and signals from the universe [mhum- eyeroll] that it felt to me like Moira might even be comfortable with saying, “I’m not the creator of the list. I am not going to say whether I am the creator. But I am OK with you saying I am widely rumored to be the creator of the list.” There were a whole range of ways she [could have answered] that fact-checker. And I actually hadn’t heard back from the fact-checker when the whole fury erupted.

Q: Just to get that on the record: The email that the fact-checker sent to Moira reads, “Katie identifies you as a woman widely believed to be one of the creators of the Shitty Men in Media List. Were you involved in creating the list? If not, how would you respond to this allegation?” That’s not accurate?

A: Well no, it’s just—I would have written something different if I were the fact-checker. I would have said, first of all, “Are you the creator of the list, and are you comfortable with this language?” I wasn’t planning to name her or out her [mhum- narrator voice: she was]. I was trying to see if she would take responsibility for the list. Some people had offered the idea to me that the alt-right might go after her if she were connected to the list. I obviously didn’t even know if she was the creator of the list. I did not think it was likely that someone from the alt-right would care about the Media Men [mhum- c'mon, are you fucking kidding me?], but I also wouldn’t have taken that risk. [...]
Ugh. She is just the fucking worst. She has the goddamn temerity to blame the fact-checker for doing a bad job at... doing Roiphe's job. And also to simultaneously claim that the alt-right wouldn't care about this but also say that she wasn't going to name here because of them. Give me a break.

Also, just wanted to give a shout-out to Isaac Chotiner who, imho, is a pretty good interviewer and one of the remaining reasons to read Slate (the others being Dahlia Lithwick and Jamelle Bouie) because he is much better than typical interviewers nowadays about not letting his interview subjects slip off the hook.
posted by mhum at 12:15 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Huh, weird. The link to the Slate interview broke. Here's a corrected one: A Conversation With Katie Roiphe
posted by mhum at 2:51 PM on February 8


I first tried to reach out to her and she wouldn’t talk to me, so then I asked a fact-checker to reach out to her

Jesus Christ. That's when the editor attempts to make contact, not the fact-checker.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:51 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Why is that? (I know nothing about the protocols of journalism.)
posted by Coventry at 3:53 PM on February 8


Why is that? (I know nothing about the protocols of journalism.)

Well, my layperson's understanding (coming from following a bunch of people in (and adjacent to) journalism who've been Tweeting hardcore about this from the beginning) the gist is this: A journalist is meant to obtain/elicit facts via research, interviews, etc... A fact-checker is meant to just double-check these facts (e.g.: was this person born in Lawrence, KS in 1955? does Toyota employ 3,500 people in Mississippi? did this person say what the writer said they said?). Basically, it was Roiphe's job to get her on the record with whatever response (e.g.: "yes I did it", "no I didn't", "I wish I had done it", etc..) or figure out via other sources whether or not she was behind the spreadsheet and it would be fact-checker's job to verify the quote (if given) with Doengan or vet the info from other sources. Also, keep in mind that a fact-checker is generally way lower in status and pay than a journalist (think of how many journalists you can name vs. how many fact-checkers). And since Roiphe owns up to the fact that Donegan wouldn't talk to her, this would be akin to having a heart surgeon getting their surgical nurse to perform a heart transplant that they couldn't pull off but then taking the credit (and pay) for having done the surgery.

Also, this is why a lot of people also don't believe Roiphe when she says she wasn't going to name Donegan. Some people who claimed experience as fact-checkers (on Twitter, so who knows) that when they did fact-checking, they never checked anything that wasn't in the article. On the other hand, others pointed out that lazy/sloppy journalists would fob off reporting duties to fact-checkers all the time, sometimes sneakily and sometimes brazenly. Given how crummy Roiphe is overall, I can easily believe either case (they're both really not good).
posted by mhum at 6:45 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


FWIW, in the "I have to ask" podcast Roiphe claims that Donegan's relationship to the list was ancillary to the article she was preparing, and it was Donegan who made it about her when the fact-checker called to clarify her role, which sounds more like a case of a heart surgeon getting their nurse to sew up after.
posted by Coventry at 6:56 PM on February 8


BTW, I hadn't heard the podcast when I asked the question. It clarified a lot for me, so thanks for the link.
posted by Coventry at 7:00 PM on February 8


Yes, Roiphe's position is that Donegan was never a big part of her story. Whether or not that is believable given the fracas this whole thing sparked is anyone's guess. It's certainly in her interests to minimize. However, even taking her at her word, it's still pretty clear that Roiphe was trying to use the fact-checker to maneuver a response out of Donegan to confirm one way or another because Donegan wouldn't talk to her. IMHO, this is not at all the same as just sewing up after the surgery (i.e.: a relatively minor task that a surgical nurse is expected to perform as part of the operation). This was Roiphe asking the fact-checker to do something that was not their job to do, that Roiphe herself was unable to do even though that's her job to do it, and that Roiphe believed was still important enough to pursue and not just leave it be (which was actually an option).

Also, I don't think it's entirely fair to say that "Donegan made it about her". From what I can recall from the sequence of events that I was following more or less live as it unfolded on Twitter, after Donegan was emailed by the fact-checker she was left with the distinct impression that she was going to be named in a Harper's article ("Katie identifies you as a woman widely believed to be..."). Afraid of being outed in this way, Donegan contacts a journalist friend (I think it was Dayna Tortorici of n+1) who tweets in vague terms about how a "legacy print publication" has an article in process that's going to name the creator of the spreadsheet. At the initial tweet, not only was it not publicized that Roiphe was the author, it wasn't even publicized that Harper's was the magazine. This initial tweet grabs the attention of a bunch of people especially those familiar with the harassment of women on the internet (including Nicole Cliffe), who decry this potential outing. At first, there are only rumblings that the publication is Harper's and unconfirmed reports that the author is Roiphe. This is when Cliffe starts encouraging writers pull their articles. In any case, even though Roiphe claims that all of this was because people wanted to silence her personally, I can vouch based on my memory of how Twitter was going, that the mass of opposition was based on pushing back against the threat of involuntarily outing the list creator -- whether it was the whole point of the article or just a throwaway line -- and not primarily against Roiphe herself and her well-known retrograde stances. Also, I'm pretty sure that between the initial tweet from Tortorici up until she outed herself, Donegan had made no public statements. I'm actually not even sure if she's made any statements about this affair since her article in The Cut.

I mean, Roiphe pretty obviously thinks it would have been no big deal to out Donegan ("I did not think it was likely that someone from the alt-right would care about the Media Men") and everyone was making a big fuss out of nothing, especially since Roiphe appears to be barely on the internet.
posted by mhum at 8:15 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


That timeline reads correctly mhum, with the caveat that Nicole Cliffe didn’t ask writers to pull pieces until she confirmed independently that it was Harper’s. As she puts it, she’s flighty but she’s not going to drop 20 grand on a hunch through the grapevine. Roiphe can slice it anyway she likes. But Harper’s assigning (or accepting a pitch for) a story that is so much about The Online to someone who clearly does not understand the magnitude of online harassment against women who dare to be loud is grossly irresponsible in and of itself, regardless of whether Donegan would have consented.
posted by Phire at 8:22 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Oh yes. That's right, Phire.

Also, I forgot to point out: as soon as Donegan put up her article on the The Cut, the call to pull work from Harper's was rescinded even as it was known by then that Roiphe was the author, further undercutting her argument that this was a vendetta about her views rather than an effort to discourage the involuntary outing of the spreadsheet creator.
posted by mhum at 8:26 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's entirely fair to say that "Donegan made it about her"

To be clear, I'm not saying that, but I think Roiphe did.
posted by Coventry at 9:40 PM on February 8


> Well, my layperson's understanding...

Yes, that's exactly it. Twenty-some years ago when I was a factchecker at Harper's, I got $25 an hour and usually my name didn't appear anywhere in the magazine. When I did research for pieces, though, there and elsewhere, I got credit for that (and I think I got paid more, but I don't remember). Maybe sometimes I'd do a little extra research if it was something I was interested in or if the writer's source seemed not great, but on the whole my job was to verify what the writer had done, not to do original work for them. By the time the piece makes it to a factchecker it should be almost ready to go to press; there just isn't time to do more work at that point. I would be lucky to get two or three days to check a piece, and was always working on several pieces at once.

Factcheckers are usually freelancers and don't get benefits, a byline, or invited to the company Christmas party. I loved the work, absolutely loved it, but I knew it was low status everywhere except The New Yorker. When I worked on pieces by particularly famous and/or prickly writers I wasn't allowed to even contact the writer -- I had to go through the editor.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:24 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I wish someone woulda taken my bet. But ugh. Seeing the fact-checker thrown under the bus like that makes me all kinds of mad on their behalf.
posted by limeonaire at 10:24 PM on February 9


Roiphe was on the insufferable Scott Simon's show this a.m. going on about the "weird energy" of "Twitter feminism" and completely sidestepping the entire reason the energy got all weird like that, namely that she threatened to throw an innocent person to the rabid slimefanged MRA hordes. It was hard to hear anything over my howls of rage, but I managed to pick up some of it, and Scott Simon was a gentle, deferential ewe as always.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:58 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


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