Culture

The Real Whistleblower Behind The “Shitty Media Men” Spreadsheet Has Come Forward

You need to hear what she has to say.

Earlier today, Twitter erupted with people claiming to be the whistleblower behind a spreadsheet titled “Shitty Media Men”; a crowdsourced list of men in the media industry accused of sexual misconduct.

Lots of people claimed to be the spreadsheet’s creator — often convincingly — because a forthcoming piece in Harper’s magazine was rumoured to name said creator, likely exposing her to doxxing, death threats, and harassment. The many people coming forward did so in an attempt to muddy the waters, and shield the actual creator from those harms.

Now, though, the genuine whistleblower behind the spreadsheet appears to have come forward. Her name is Moira Donegan, and she broke the news with a detailed essay in The Cut outlining why she started the list, how it spiralled out of her control, and what she learnt from it.

It’s the detail of her essay, along with the fact that most of the other people who came forward have since retracted their claims, that makes it pretty clear that this probably is the real deal now, and it provides some interesting clarifications.

For one, Katie Roiphe, the author of the future Harper’s piece rumoured to name the whistleblower, this morning denied that she even knew the identity of the person, let alone named them. According to Donegan, that’s not the case — Roiphe apparently contacted her asking if she’d like to comment on an article on the “feminist movement”, failing to mention the spreadsheet at all. Donegan only became aware she was about to be identified as the spreadsheet’s creator when Harper’s fact-checkers got in touch several weeks later.

Also illuminating are Donegan’s reflections on what the spreadsheet meant to her, and others who used it.

“Over the past months I’ve also had many long, frank conversations with other journalists, men and women, about sexual harassment and assault in our industry,” she wrote.

“In some of these conversations, we spent hours teasing out how these men, many of whom we knew to be intelligent and capable of real kindness, could behave so crudely and cruelly toward us.”

“This is what shocked me about the spreadsheet: the realization of how badly it was needed, how much more common the experience of sexual harassment or assault is than the opportunity to speak about it. I am still trying to grapple with this realization.”

Since creating the spreadsheet, Donegan wrote that her life had changed dramatically.

“The fear of being exposed, and of the harassment that will inevitably follow, has dominated my life since,” she wrote. “I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself.”

In a show of real solidarity, other women stepped in to provide those protections for Donegan while she was anonymous. Now that her name’s out there, we can only hope that protection continues. If you need any reason to believe it should, read Donegan’s essay. You can find it here.