A BuzzFeed news reporter recently received an interesting email from one of her fellow writer friends. It contained a Google spreadsheet titled, “SH*TTY MEDIA MEN.” It’s basically a list of high profile men who have acted questionably toward women. There was a disclaimer. It read:
“DISCLAIMER: This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt. If you see something about a man you’re friends with, don’t freak out. Men accused of physical sexual violence by multiple women are highlighted in red.”
Alright, fine. Just rumors. Keep in mind though. Almost everyone Hollywood heard the “rumors” about Harvey Weinstein, and whaddya know. They’re true.
The BuzzFeed reporter wrote:
I saw some of the names and thought: f*cking finally. Finally, the grossest men in media will be exposed.
The allegations on the spreadsheet range from “flirting” and “weird lunch dates“ to accusations of rape, assault, stalking, harassment, and physical violence. What these things have in common is that they remind women, particularly vulnerable women, that they are not in power.
Just one problem: She didn’t feel comfortable publishing it. I mean, these claims are unverifiable. Some of the information might be untrue. And HELLO. BuzzFeed has a journalistic reputation to uphold!
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.
As The Nation contributor Collier Meyerson tweeted earlier on Wednesday, “There is a difference between serial sexual assaulters, harassers, rapists and dogs. There are tons of both in media. In the coming days, as aggregated lists of men are created, it’s important to distinguish who are dogs and who are sexual assaulters.” Does a spreadsheet of this size and breadth of allegations accomplish its goal, which is presumably to warn women about predators? I’m not totally sure, but the fact of the spreadsheet’s existence is itself a feature of this new social media age, of email hacks and document leaks, and a time when things that had just been whispered about are put into digital form, and shared, and take on a life of their own.
Yeah, yeah. We get it. There are different levels of pervy behavior. But I have to wonder. Why didn’t BuzzFeed publish this document? If it contained a list of high profile conservatives who were rumored dogs, they would’ve published it. I’m almost positive. After all, they published the unverified dossier on Trump. Remember? The dossier that even accused Trump of having prostitutes pee on a bed the Obamas slept on? Yeah, that one.
Why did they publish that but not this? Curious, isn’t it? It’s like they suddenly have a devotion to the idea of journalistic integrity. Amazing!
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 12, 2017
you post an unconfirmed dossier on Trump for principle, but this stumps you? according to your own standards, publish it!
— Pat Ruble (@PatsRacquet) October 12, 2017
There must not be a bunch of Republicans on the list, if there were they would have published it in a heartbeat
— yassir sanches (@Olinecoacher) October 12, 2017
We know that to be true. The reporter admitted that the list contained the names of men who work at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, Mother Jones and BuzzFeed itself.
They aren’t posting the list because it’s full of liberals
— Joseph Courson (@josephcourson) October 12, 2017
It’s so cute when BuzzFeed pretends to have a shred of integrity.