Hi, I’m on the Shitty Media Men list, but maybe you already knew that
Last spring, during my first week on the janitorial staff at a Dave & Buster’s, I struck up a conversation with a coworker who had served 17 years in prison. Swapping life stories, I sheepishly divulged that I used to work for The Washington Post, that I had a book published by HarperCollins, and that I spent years as the top editor of a popular website.
He fixed a look at me. “So what are you doing here?” he asked. For the life of me, I couldn’t begin to explain.
How could I describe how I was fortunate enough in 2006 to be able to afford a one-bedroom condo at age 24, yet that today I feel trapped in that space, with the mortgage still underwater? Could I adequately explain how I went from having a life and career I felt proud of, to being publicly shamed by my peers and punished for things I didn’t do?
In October 2017, I was one of roughly 70 men included in the Shitty Media Men list, a crowdsourced spreadsheet of anonymous, unvetted allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. No words can describe my astonishment and horror at finding myself accused of “harassment,” “stalking” and “physical intimidation.” Even more agonizing was seeing this supposedly private listing, allegedly intended as a whisper-network warning among trusted insiders, swiftly leaked to the public, initially on the website of conservative activist Mike Cernovich and later on other outlets and social media.
The damage to my career seemed equally swift. In the decade leading up to the list, my work was regularly published by more than a dozen outlets and I was frequently offered work. After the leak, that work screeched to a stop. Today, I write for only one outlet I previously contributed to; income that covers only a few smaller bills. I’ve applied for hundreds of conventional office jobs, ranging from PR to administrative assistant to technical writing in an effort to avoid a bankruptcy that could hurt family members whose finances are linked to mine. Yet employers don’t seem to view the four years I spent creating, organizing and running a popular blog as applicable experience. Most days, it’s difficult to envision a path back to a decent life.
More than two years later, the media continue to embrace MeToo’s powerful personal…