Douchebag Decree: Deadspin and Will Leitch

Alert the office manager: We need to order some new parchment from the office supply company, cuz there were so many sports-related Douchebag Decrees to be handed out this last week, we can't keep up. You'll be glad to know, for instance, that gamblers aren't getting all bent out of shape about Ben Roethlisberger's rape accusation.

But what really brought out the douchebag in people was the Erin Andrews situation. Take, for instance, the mind-shredding audacity of Deadspin.com, particularly the site's former editor Will "All-of-a-Sudden-I-Feel-Sort-of-Guilty" Leitch, who after years of gleefully providing a forum for a particularly creepy—and tediously predictable—brand of hipster-jock misogyny, now is trying to distance himself from the whole Andrews debacle.

A quick Erin Andrews primer for those not in the know: Andrews is a sideline reporter for ESPN. She is conventionally "hot"—long wavy blond locks, gorgeous smile, tight butt—in a way that should be generic but for some reason gets people all slobbery. She inspires a lot of lust, and also a lot of hostility; basically, dudes hate her, but continue to dry-hump her over the Internet. She inspires a lot of stalking jokes. And, you know, gross photos like this one:

78290_070225_gameday2.jpg

Who needs to stalk someone when you can just sexualize a cardboard likeness of her and then post it on the Internet? Right???

The whole stalking jokes thing got super real this past week, when word spread on the Internet that there existed a video of Andrews, filmed unbeknownst to her, alone in her hotel room naked and getting ready for bed.

Somehow, somebody managed to get a peephole camera hidden in the room, probably through a hole in the wall or ceiling. Whoever planted the camera was able to manipulate it to follow Andrews' movements; reports are now coming out that the perpetrator most likely was a co-worker.

There are many points of entry for discussion here, but let's just keep it at Deadspin/Leitch. A popular site, Deadspin is known as a haven for hipster jock-boys, the kind who view sports through the lens of, you know, irony… Which means they make fun of people in often destructive ways and then back away from taking on any responsibility for being total jerkwads. Deadspin often employs the old standby of claiming to be making fun of/satirizing/just pointing out the shitty behavior of other people. In reality, the site provides a forum for commenters to indulge in often-aggressive sexism, homophobia, racism, and sometimes even worse.

It all seemed, to Leitch and his ilk, harmless jock-boy fun, until the revelation of such a violent intrusion on Andrews' privacy creeped everyone out so badly that Leitch was forced to take a look at his own shit. Although he's no longer editor of Deadspin, Leitch was responsible for the Andrews coverage that occurred under his watch—and there was a lot of it—and he wrote several posts about her during his stint. So a few days ago, he wrote a Deadspin post in which he purported to take a good, hard look at his own blogging behavior concerning Andrews to see if he/Deadspin were in any way responsible—at least partially—for providing an atmosphere in which doing something like secretly taping a naked woman might seem OK.

And he fucking exonerated himself.

There are so many parts of Leitch's whiney, self-serving post that I want to dissect, but let's just keep it to one part, shall we? Specifically, the bit where he says this:

That's the thing: This is awful for anyone who has ever written or said anything about Erin Andrews, ever. Everything seemed innocent before, which is why everybody did it. Sports Media Watch has an excellent long post detailing what brought us to this point, pointing out comments about Andrews made by newspaper folk, bloggers, broadcasters and whatever Bruce Pearl is. But Sports Media Watch overstates it: It somehow tries to tie all that to the video, saying the Andrews talk created a "hostile environment." From my experience, the environment was anything but "hostile." Its lack of hostility always seemed like the point.

Here's your first news flash, douchebag: We're all really sad that this is so awful for you and your blogger buddies, but, really, this isn't about you.

News Flash #2: It was never, ever innocent. How can you possibly think that going back through your posts, in which there's quite a bit of hostility, objectification, and downright aggressiveness? Like this post, in which you encourage folks to rank "attractive female sideline reporters" in order of hotness using a NCAA basketball-tourney-type bracket (this, of course, after your disingenuous first graf, a CYA attempt to make sure we know that you feel sorry for such reporters, since they get judged merely because of their "boobies"). Oh yeah, the bracket is called the "Who Would You Do? Tournament." Nothing gross there. Nothing that might create a hostile environment concerning women.

It's notable also, Leitch, that many of your posts contain some sort of statement about how it must be really hard to be a sideline reporter, to be all hot and stuff, and have no one take you seriously. Because let's not forget this little dandy, in which you sarcastically said:

We know it's somewhat of a popular parlor game to rank the attractiveness of female sideline reporters, and it makes a modicum of sense, considering the job of sideline reporter isn't inherently, you know, demanding.

I suspect, actually, that it is demanding, at least when guys are constantly humping you and groping you and asking you out—which happens to Andrews on a consistent basis—while you're trying to do your fucking job.

Under your watch, Leitch, Deadspin published tons of gratuitous posts, often filled with sarcastic asides about Andrews' breasts, her supposed lack of talent, how much everyone wants to do her, how much everyone wants to stalk her, and stupid puns and innuendos about fucking her. The posts were usually just excuses to post pictures of Andrews (like the one of her eating a hoagie—which is so predictable it's almost too boring for me to get riled up about). How many times did you drum up some excuse to write about Andrews in order to show those pictures of her ass, the ones that someone took without her knowledge?

Of course, each post always came with a dragon's tail of comments that skipped straight past innuendo into what often looked like a verbal gang rape. Some examples (all sic'd, if need be):

"I wanna feel Erin Andrews from the inside."

"Erin Andrews is a fugly slut!"

"Well...Erin Andrews is just a skirt...she basically went from UF Sorostitute to TBS Braves broadcasts (where she was awful...and Skip Caray called her "their little Cheerleader") to ESPN. She really had to pay her dues"

"'Erin Andrews was doing a bit piece '....
It was supposed to say 'Erin Andrews is a piece', right?"

"I figure the clientele here would just be up for dinner and a movie with Ms. Andrews. And by 'dinner', I mean 'sex'. And by 'movie', I mean we'll be taping it."

"…my Top Five places in Atlanta to hang out would be:
1. Erin Andrews' mouth

2. Erin Andrews' vagina

3. Erin Andrews' butt

4. Erin Andrews' TF-ing area aka boobs

5. Chris Benoit's house"

And finally, let's not forget that Deadspin recently even published a post that describes the technical aspects of how the perpetrator managed to set up his spying camera with about only $600 worth of equipment—a post that in essence said, This is such a disgusting invasion of privacy and a violent act against women. Here's how to do it.

The long history of gratuitous posts, the sarcasm, the sophomoric sexual innuendos, the open forum for asshole commenters—these things actually do create a hostile atmosphere. I'm sure you will claim, Leitch, that you don't even work at Deadspin anymore and so you are no longer responsible. But you kick-started the whole thing, set the legacy, and then came back and wrote your faux-guilty post about feeling "awful." Well, it feels pretty awful for women to be treated like this 24 hours a day, and to be hooted at while they're trying to work, and to be scared to even get undressed in a private fucking hotel room. So yeah, I hope you do feel awful—welcome to the club.

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

3 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Benoit?

The Chris Benoit comment is also incredibly creepy, considering that Benoit murdered his wife and child.

This.

This situation disgusted me beyond words. I found out about this by lurking some baseball blog, and there was this one guy who said how horrible it was...and promptly got called a faggot and a loser for saying so. This post said everything I wanted to say, but couldn't.

I think you are giving this award to the wrong person.

I just read the entire post by Will Leitch and I disagree with you. I think he sorely misses the point and I think DeadSpin is a flawed blog, but he's not without empathy and at least he is trying to take the issue on in a serious matter.

Look, those comments you picked out are atrocious. But then there are some comments there who DO get it:

" It's been my experience that it's "just nudity" when it's someone else who's nude. Oddly enough, women seem to have enough trouble being looked at as anything but sex objects in our culture, so having control over who sees them nude and when is something they kind of like to hold on to whenever possible.

She gets to decide if you seeing her nude is a big deal. You don't."

Admittedly most of these comenters don't. I'm not trying to defend these douchy blogs who objectify women and don't see the humor but ppl write disgusting gross comments all over the internet. Is it fair to hold an editor accountable for others' comments as well as his own writing.

Look, I don't think Will Leitch gets it and I think he's off the mark here in partially exonerating himself. But he's thinking and questioning and not dismissing the issue and is clearly disturbed by any role he may have played. Is he in the wrong here? Yes. Is he douchebag of the week? I think definitely not.

Try this guy: http://www.10tv.com/live/content/local/stories/2009/07/22/abortion.html