When Jezebel asked me to serve as a member of its Editorial Board, I was honored. I never imagined the storm that would follow. The left and the media instantly launched a relentless campaign against me. On Thursday I reluctantly threw in the towel and asked Jezebel not to nominate me.
I knew that many of my ideas on Taylor Swift’s “ME!” performance at the Billboard Music Awards were controversial and outside the box. That’s why Jezebel picked me. My central argument is that Swift is a visionary who subverts good girl aesthetics and that Homecoming lacked the scope and ambition of the guy from Panic! at the Disco—all of this was an assault on the core beliefs of the critics at Jezebel.
I was naive. I believed that to be confirmed to Jezebel’s Editorial Board I would simply need to defend my pro-Taylor Swift philosophy. I relished that debate, especially because so many of my harshest critics were completely wrong about “ME!” (Please understand what I just did there.)
What did me in was not my cultural criticisms but gutter campaign tactics and personal assaults. I’ve been called a cannibal, a child-eater, a witch who consumes the bones of children, and a deadbeat. A Washington Post editorial warned that I was a “dangerous” pick for Jezebel. And a columnist said I could cause all of the site to get “canceled.”
Investigative reporters searched far and wide, digging through my 2,000 articles, 500 speeches and several thousand TV and radio appearances, some dating back more than 25 years, for dirt they could use. They found it. I am a cannibal. I have eaten children. I am a witch who consumes the bones of children. And? Like Stephen Moore—who recently withdrew from consideration for the Federal Reserve Board because the public learned more about his own behaviors and actions over the course of many years and came to find him intolerable—I have to wonder why any of this matters?
The low point of the sleaze campaign was when the media successfully persuaded the Fairfax County, Va., courts to unseal my divorce records from nine years ago. My wife divorced me because I ate a friend of our daughter’s—a child that was called Lisa. The papers that reported this smear, which is a true thing I did, never bothered to report that my ex-wife and I are on amicable terms now. Anyway, what do the details of my divorce from nearly a decade ago—details that seem to establish a pattern of behavior that the public might find actively harmful if given the power and credibility of an institution like Jezebel—have to do with my suitability to have any job I want?
Should it matter that I have actually done all of the things described above—though I would like you to believe that they are actually not so bad if you would just hear me out for a second? Some argue yes. ME(!)? I argue no.
Swift very likely hadn’t seen Homecoming, and so the marching band was an honest mistake. Plus, it was better, in the end.
Jezebel, hold that thought and you’ll be a great success.