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Scribner is standing behind its reported six-figure book contract with Moira Donegan even as the freelance writer faces a defamation lawsuit for her role in creating the “S—ty Media Men” list last year.
In a statement to TheWrap, the publishing house, a division of CBS’ Simon & Schuster, said they were untroubled by the legal imbroglio.
“The lawsuit does not affect Scribner’s plans to publish Moira Donegan’s book,” said a spokesperson, who added that the book would not be about the list itself but instead would be a “primer on misogyny and sexual harassment.”
The list, which Donegan created, was actually a crowdsourced Google spreadsheet which invited women in media to anonymously name abusive men in the industry along with details of their alleged crimes. The document eventually grew to dozens of names with uncorroborated behavior running the gamut from awkward touching to rape.
Stephen Elliott, the former editor of the online magazine The Rumpus who was accused of rape on the list, brought a defamation suit this month seeking $1.5 million in damages from Donegan and up to 30 other “Jane Does” for their role in creating the document. He said the list’s wide dissemination caused severe damage to his reputation and career by perpetuating false information.
“The List contained false information and unsubstantiated allegations, including untrue statements alleging Plaintiff engaged in criminal sexual conduct, namely rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion and unsolicited invitations to his apartment,” the suit reads.
“The inflammatory false statements published in the List were abusive, vulgar, intentionally misleading as well as damning to the Plaintiff’s reputation and good name. The List was sent to numerous members of the parties’ shared profession, the media industry to intentionally harm Plaintiff’s reputation and further cause harm to Plaintiff’s career.”
In addition to that, Elliot cited how Donegan has prospered by comparison.
“Defendant Donegan has benefited substantially from publication of the List,” it reads. “In addition to favorable publicity, Defendant Donegan has been hired on contract at the New Yorker and was given a contract worth a minimum of six figures to write a book about the list for Scribner Books.”
Scribner declined to comment on how much it had paid Donegan as part of the deal.
While many of the men listed in the document have never faced any formal accusation, others were ultimately forced out of prestigious posts at media organizations such as BuzzFeed, The Atlantic and The Paris Review after internal investigations into formally lodged complaints.