Shitty Media Men was a crowdsourced Google spreadsheet created in October 2017 that collected allegations and rumors of sexual misconduct by about 70 men in the media industry, particularly in New York City. Moira Donegan, a former assistant editor at The New Republic, initially began the spreadsheet online anonymously.
In October 2017, Donegan posted the spreadsheet, which allowed anonymous contributions to supplement existing "whisper networks" about allegations of sexual harassment and violence in the media industry. The list—in the form of a shared Google spreadsheet—was active for around 12 hours, during which time it quickly went viral within media circles. Upon learning that BuzzFeed intended to publish an article about it, Donegan took it down.
On October 16, 2017, social media personality Mike Cernovich tweeted that he was willing to pay $10,000 for a copy of the list. Cernovich later said that a source sent him the list but "was insistent on not accepting anything". On October 21, Cernovich promised to publish the listed names, but after identifying two journalists, he consulted his lawyer and withheld the rest.
On October 25, 2017, after obtaining a copy of the list, Politico contacted several publications with writers on the list. The New York Times said that since there had been no internal complaints about its employees on the list, it had not investigated them. New York magazine's publisher, New York Media, said that in the case of its employees on the list, "We have reviewed whether any type of action is appropriate and have acted accordingly. It is New York Media's policy not to disclose publicly any findings or actions taken as a result of this process so as to preserve the confidential and sensitive nature of these matters." One BuzzFeed staffer said the names weren't a total surprise to many, and that the men's reputations preceded them.
The list also contained the names of multiple The New Republic and The New Yorker employees who had multiple accusations against them, as indicated by their entries in the list being highlighted in red. Constance Grady of Vox wrote, "none of the men who appear on the Shitty Media Men list, even those who were accused of multiple counts of rape, have faced criminal charges."
Impact and fallout
In November 2017, BuzzFeed began an investigation of its employees on the list, including its White House correspondent, Adrian Carrasquillo. In December 2017, following a new complaint of inappropriate comments sent to a coworker, BuzzFeed fired Carrasquillo for violating its code of conduct.
On December 6, 2017, Lorin Stein, the editor of The Paris Review, resigned amid an internal investigation into his behavior toward female employees and writers. He had informed board members that his name was on the list. He also resigned as editor at large of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Purported Harper's article
In January 2018, while the list was still being discussed in the media, it was rumored that Harper's planned to publish the list's creator's name in an article by Katie Roiphe, which elicited concern about doxing and the list's creator's safety. The rumors prompted Donegan to preemptively come forward as the list's creator.
On October 10, 2018, Stephen Elliott, a New Orleans-based writer and founder of the literary site The Rumpus, filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York against "Moira Donegan and Jane Does (1–30)" seeking $1.5 million in damages. Donegan was represented by Robbie Kaplan, a co-founder of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Elliott was represented by Andrew Miltenberg, a sexual assault defense attorney. Elliott's lawsuit sought to make public the identities of those who contributed to the crowd-sourced Google spreadsheet.
Donegan attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed on multiple grounds. In June 2020, New York federal judge LaShann DeArcy Hall denied her motion for dismissal on the grounds that Elliott is a public figure who would need to show actual malice to prevail. Hall ruled, “Plaintiff’s degree of involvement in a controversy surrounding sexual assault, sexual harassment, and consent in the workplace, if any, is de minimis. [...] Defendant directed the Court to only a few tangential references to sexual harassment or lewd jokes in the workplace in Plaintiff’s writing and interviews. And the Court is not willing to find that Plaintiff’s more extensive writings and interviews about sex, BDSM, and sexual assault—unrelated to workplace issues—transforms him into a public figure with respect to the controversy here.” She then claimed she had immunity from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which affords providers and users of tech services fairly broad immunity for third-party content.
Hall preliminarily found that Donegan "qualifies as a provider of an interactive computer service", but added, "Conversely, the Court is unable to find that it is evident from the face of the complaint that the allegations against Plaintiff included in the List were provided to Defendant by another information content provider." Hall found it possible that Donegan created Elliott's entry herself, and allowed the case to move forward to discovery on this issue.
In March 2022, Donegan lost another effort to have the suit dismissed.
In March 2023, Donegan and Elliott settled the suit. According to The Daily Beast, the settlement included a six-figure payment from Donegan to Elliott. While Elliott said he did not know who added him to the list, he told The Daily Beast that the settlement was "enough money that it's basically an admission of guilt, and it feels like a victory".
- Rosenfeld, Jordana (January 12, 2018). "What Moira Donegan Did for Young Women Writers". The Nation. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Donegan, Moira (January 10, 2018). "I Started the Media Men List My name is Moira Donegan". The Cut. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Stanley-Becker, Isaac (October 12, 2018). "Creator of notorious 'Media Men' list of anonymous sexual accusations is sued by writer who says it nearly ruined him". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2018 – via chron.com.
- Cartwright, Lachlan (March 6, 2023). "Ugly Battle Over 'Shitty Media Men' List Ends in Six-Figure Payout". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
- Warren, James (January 12, 2018). "A word of caution: Documents like that media men list are like 'Wikipedia wrapped in razor blades'". Poynter. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- Calderone, Michael; Schwartz, Jason (October 25, 2017). "Blogger amends vow to publish list of 'Shitty Media Men'". Politico. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Constance, Grady (January 11, 2018). "The "Shitty Media Men" list, explained". Vox. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Shafrir, Doree (October 12, 2017). "What To Do With "Shitty Media Men"?". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- LaFrance, Adrienne (October 24, 2017). "The 'Harvey Effect' Takes Down Leon Wieseltier's Magazine". The Atlantic.
- Cottle, Michelle (October 27, 2017). "Reckoning With a Powerful Man's Bad Behavior". The Atlantic.
- Tani, Maxwell (December 27, 2017). "BuzzFeed has fired its White House correspondent after allegations of inappropriate comments to a colleague". Business Insider. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- Alter, Alexandra; Ember, Sydney (December 6, 2017). "Paris Review Editor Resigns Amid Inquiry Into His Conduct With Women". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- Peiser, Jaclyn (January 10, 2018). "'Media Men' List Creator Outs Herself, Fearing She Would Be Named". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Chang, Clio (January 9, 2018). "I Can't Believe This Needs Saying but Doxxing the Woman Behind the Shitty Media Men List Is Wrong". Splinter. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Sherman, Carter (October 17, 2018). "The "Shitty Media Men" list lawsuit is freaking out women in media". Vice. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Weiss, Bari (October 13, 2018). "Opinion - What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "The attorney spearheading the "Shitty Media Men" lawsuit is a top defender of accused campus rapists". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "'Sh*tty Media Men' List Creator Moira Donegan Sued for $1.5 Million". The Daily Beast. October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Spencer, Ruth (October 19, 2018). "Robbie Kaplan Sees Right Through Stephen Elliot's Lawsuit". The Cut. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Paiella, Gabriella (October 19, 2018). "Stephen Elliott's Lawyer Doesn't Want to Bring Up Soviet Russia, But…". The Cut. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Canon, Gabrielle (October 14, 2018). "Shitty Media Men list: lawyer wants to expose women who contributed". The Guardian. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "Elliott et al v. Donegan". law360.com. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Stanley-Becker, Isaac (October 12, 2018). "Creator of notorious 'Media Men' list of anonymous sexual accusations is sued by writer who says it nearly ruined him". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Spencer, Ruth (October 11, 2018). "Stephen Elliott Sues Moira Donegan, Creator of Shitty Media Men List". The Cut. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "Stephen Elliott's complaint against Moira Donegan and Jane Does (1-30) - Damages - Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress". Scribd. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "Elliott v. Donegan et al (1:18-cv-05680), New York Eastern District Court". www.pacermonitor.com. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Weiss, Debra Cassens (October 17, 2018). "Lawyers on opposite sides of #MeToo litigation face off in suit over crowdsourced accusation list". ABA Journal. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Weiss, Debra Cassens (October 17, 2018). "Writer sues creator of crowdsourced spreadsheet that accused him of abuse, seeks to out contributors". ABA Journal. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Schaub, Michael (October 15, 2018). "Writer Stephen Elliott sues Media Men List creator Moira Donegan; supporters raise more than $100,000 for her defense -". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- ""Sh**ty Media Men" List Creator Unable to Escape Libel Suit". The Hollywood Reporter. June 30, 2020.
- "Evidence Destruction Warrants "Shitty Media Men" Trial, Says Writer". The Hollywood Reporter. June 3, 2021.
- Gerstein, Josh (April 1, 2022). "Writer named in controversial 'media men' list wins round in court". Politico. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
- DeGregory, Priscilla (March 3, 2023). ""Writer on 'Sh--ty Media Men' list settles defamation suit"". The New York Post. Retrieved March 4, 2023.