Liberalism ideologically insists it supports capitalism in a kinder, gentler way than conservatism does. It covers for entrenched exploitation with the trappings of change.
To that end, it has co-opted the language and aesthetics of social justice, although only to give prevailing power structures the look of equality. So we end up with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer donning kente cloth and societal progress presented as the first black man to run the Central Intelligence Agency.
This all seems a fine goal. After all, why shouldn’t there be equal representation? The problem is that Democrats do next to nothing for working-class people of all types, meaning the party focuses on laundering the reputation of its donor class while disregarding everybody else.
The members of the oppressed identities that liberals elevate tend to come from far more economically privileged backgrounds—or at least have rarefied collegiate credentials—than the vast majority of the members of the identity groups they claim to “represent.” Yet often these privileged identitarians will invoke the historical suffering of others as if it were their own.
It’s a useful thing to bring up when challenged. No one wants to be seen as defending or perpetuating historical oppression, so most will back down when the privileged identitarians use it to get their way.
Here’s How I Know
I understand these dynamics all too well because they have been used to inflict considerable harm on me. In late 2017, I was among the 70-plus men named on The Shitty Media Men List, accused of criminal-level charges without evidence or scrutiny on a spreadsheet that was compiled by anonymous users in fewer than 24 hours.
The list was publicized without investigation by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed News, The New Yorker, and several other prominent left-of-center publications. When Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault, these very outlets stressed the importance of carefully handling accusations to justify dragging their feet on a Democrat. Then they repeatedly lied about how they handled similar stories the same way during the height of Me Too.
For years, employees of these corporate outlets treated the list as a de-facto sex offender registry, proclaiming on social media that anyone even seen communicating with those named were enabling predators. No one prominent challenged this, although the vast majority of the list has still never been investigated.
After more than two years of living in terror and despair, losing friends and support mechanisms, being told I shouldn’t confront the accusation because no one would believe me, I self-published my side of the story in January. I had to be scant on details about my interactions with the former coworker I think entered my name on the list, because she had not publicly accused me.
Even though all those publications amplified attention to a list that is easy to find online, none acknowledged my story. They just pretended an inconvenient aspect of a controversy they covered extensively didn’t exist.
My Accuser of Crimes Is Completely Anonymous
In fall 2018, about a year after the list was publicly leaked, I emailed the former coworker from The Washington Post I suspect wrote my entry, as it mentioned the company having an HR file relating to my supposed misconduct. It does not.
I’m not naming her because I’m not trying to drag someone into a public showdown, or to do to someone what was done to me. Given her position and status, and knowing how progressives act in these scenarios, I doubt there’s any risk for her to dispute what I say. What information I provide about her is to establish that the power imbalance favors her considerably.
I want it to be clear what happened between me and this woman in case I’ve correctly identified my accuser. I can’t prove who wrote my entry, because Google won’t release that information. Then again, it’s hard not to suspect her of having something to do with it just based on her email response, which seemed callous, defensive, and unhelpful.
It could have been almost anyone loosely connected to the upper reaches of prestige print and digital media. Lots of people did get access to the document in the short window of time it could be edited. My accuser could have been a man, or a nonbinary person.
It could have been the result of some game of telephone in the back channels of media, a story gets exaggerated or distorted, then an individual with an ax to grind hears about it and puts somebody on a spreadsheet. It could have been a random invention that just happened to sound like it came from a woman I had a falling out with a decade before.
Part of what makes this so disorienting is that all of these are legitimate possibilities and I might never know the answer. Without a court process for clearing my name, I will never know, and therefore have to rely on my hunch that this former colleague is the most likely possibility.
I Never Did What the Media Alleges I Did
We worked in the same small suburban bureau for about a year and a half in the mid-2000s. The first few months, we got along well. We joked around, she gave me rides to office lunches in her car, she burned a CD for me and invited me to a party at her place, which I attended for maybe an hour because a bunch of her fellow Ivy Leaguers were there and I felt out of place.
Things soured between us after a few months and I’m still not entirely sure why. I did ask her to hang out outside of work, which she accepted although it never happened. The shift from good terms to bad between us seemed to me to have happened rather quickly. I couldn’t fully understand why.
Given the presumption of guilt hanging over me now, this is where those inclined to disbelieve me are able to impute wrongdoing on my part, so I have to be clear about what did not occur. I never commented on her physically, never touched her, never tried to, never made lewd comments about or around her. After she changed her mind about hanging out, there was maybe a week I was dumbstruck about it, but I let the matter go.
I was, however, discontent with my go-nowhere position at the paper and inability to land a decent journalism job elsewhere. Out of boredom and the need to interact with someone outside of a computer, I did sometimes float from my desk into the newsroom and talk to her, as she was the only one in the office I had rapport with at any point. This office contained six or seven people at most at any given time, so there were not a lot of options for socializing.
Obviously, it wasn’t her obligation to keep me from being bored, and I regret the times I must have agitated her while she was working, but compared to what I was accused of, that’s significantly short of criminal behavior or even actionable by the company. To be clear, I wasn’t trying to talk to her constantly, but of course there’s no way to prove that more than a dozen years later. When things became more strained between us as time went on, I certainly did not bother to chat with her outside of strictly work-related matters.
When we worked in the same office, I was an editorial aide and she was a reporter. I was beneath her on the totem pole.
At one point, frustrated with my inability to get out of a dead-end position at the paper, I had pinned an article on the wall of my desk by a former Post employee complaining about the company’s culture of adulation and deference toward Ivy Leaguers. I admit it was a petty, passive-aggressive thing to do, and while I didn’t do it specifically to spite the two Ivy League coworkers in the office, I didn’t care that it was likely that they would see it.
When they did, they confronted me. One scoffed, “Oh, you went to Maryland? Heh, heh.” I suppose he was just being petty in return, although interesting to hear an Ivy Leaguer say the quiet part loud for once. He has a pretty prestigious job now.
Staying Silent Is Tacit Approval
In my email to my coworker, I apologized for being annoying and rude, and for posting that article on my desk. I also asked for clarification. What I was accused of did not line up with my experience at all.
Since the list was created a decade after we worked in the same office, I was willing to consider that I had possibly forgotten something. I asked her to tell me if I did anything terrible, and had simply buried it in my memory. She sent a terse reply saying she didn’t write my entry on the list and didn’t know who did, yet chewed me out for “refuting” the charges against me, told me I had behaved inappropriately without providing any details, and told me never to contact her again.
If she didn’t accept my apology, that’s her prerogative. That said, by staying silent and hidden she is tacitly allowing very serious damaging claims to stand. As far as me “refuting” anything, I think it’s only fair that I know what charges made against me are valid. In effect, she or whoever my accuser is has been allowed to be judge, jury, and executioner.
Toward the end of my time with the paper I was receiving counseling through the company health plan for depression, so there were days I was emotionally uneven in the office. By that I mean cranky or dejected. I wasn’t having violent outbursts.
Being around someone who makes you uncomfortable isn’t the same thing as them threatening you. At the time I had begun living alone for the first time, my commute was an hour each way to a job I was disenchanted with, several close friends had recently left the area, and I wasn’t taking it as well as I was telling myself.
It strikes me as ridiculous that I have to unpack all this context about my life to defend myself from a spreadsheet entry that probably took about 30 seconds to throw together.
Powerful Women Lying for More Power
My former coworker is not some vulnerable nobody. She is now an editor at a corporate outlet in New York, who wields far more institutional power and influence than I have at any point in my career. Yet either she (or someone else, but with her consent) has been allowed to hide in anonymity while issuing ruinous charges against me.
Because corporate journos, especially in New York media circles, often communicate as groups on private online forums, it’s entirely possible she told others through back channels not to acknowledge my story. It’s also possible they decided that on their own. Such is the strength of ideological conformity in those spaces.
Of course, the popular narrative of Me Too, eagerly pushed by liberal outlets, is of vulnerable women taking down powerful men. My story is very much the opposite of that. But no one dares challenge the accepted talking points because to them the list is simply just a way to start making up for all the crimes of the past. Once again, identitarians are using historical oppression to justify present cruelty.
Moira Donegan, the woman who started the spreadsheet, landed a new job as a columnist at The Guardian and got a book deal. She is being sued by another man named on the list, the only one besides me who has publicly confronted his allegation. She is being represented pro bono by Times Up and received $100,000 on GoFundMe for her “legal defense.” That doesn’t sound to me like someone who is oppressed.
When I published my article in January, Donegan immediately blocked me on Twitter and never acknowledged what I wrote. No one has pressured her to do so. She’s hailed in corporate media outlets as a hero. She also helped bury the Tara Reade story this past spring by shaming people who justifiably criticized the corporate media and the professional activist class for their transparent double standard on Biden.
We Don’t Care that We Destroyed Your Life
Shortly after I self-published my story, the popular New York City-based podcast Red Scare hosts railed against me on an episode. The two women had earned the ire of corporate feminists during the height of Me Too for almost always defending or sympathizing with men accused of sexual misconduct, including, to a degree, Harvey Weinstein. They described him as a fall guy for more widespread predation among the elites.
Yet they were disgusted with my self-defense. To them, I had been too kind to the media class and Donegan, tried too hard to explain how I’m worthy as a person when it didn’t matter.
In retrospect, they were right. I played nice, and got ignored. I thought the better angels of journalism still exist, that certain principles matter. One of the hosts called me a “beta cuck,” which I’m including here because I think it’s funny, although it did sting at the time.
I learned the hard way: Never apologize. Not to these people, at least.