Vice Media is being accused of cultivating a “toxic” atmosphere steeped in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. The story broke in an article published on November 15th, 2017 by the Daily Beast, who detailed the allegations made against the anti-#GamerGate outlet.
The allegations were against one of the former editors of Vice, Kaj Larsen, which involved touching another former staff member, Phoebe Barghouty, inappropriately. This all allegedly took place back in 2015. Barghouty also reported some situations that she described as perceived threats from Larson. Barghouty and other female staff contacted human resources about the issue, and also wrote to a manager about the problems as well. However, the Daily Beast is reporting that that particular manager is no longer with the company.
The current female staff at Vice are currently contractually barred from publicly speaking out on instances of sexual misconduct taking place at the media outlet, and signed non-disclosure agreements while working for the supposed Progressive media empire.
Part of one of the NDAs that employees had to sign makes it known that as an employee you’re not allowed to find the workplace environment offensive, indecent, disturbing, or violent. The Daily Beast linked to a photo copy of the NDA, where one section reads…
“Although it is possible that some of the text, images and information I will be exposed to the course of my employment with Vice may be considered by some to be offensive, indecent, violent or disturbing, I do not find such text, images or information or the workplace environment at Vice to be offensive, indecent, violent or disturbing.”
Essentially, Vice has their current employees on lockdown from speaking about any potential or perceived ills taking place at the company, which may include sexual misconduct, harassment, or abuse.
Barghouty explained to the Daily Beast…
“The culture [at Vice] was that if you sleep with your boss, or with your producer, you’ll get more opportunities. That was real,” […] “Women who were intimate with their superiors did better than women who weren’t. It created a toxic environment, where men could be abusive, and some women were manipulated into thinking that acquiescing to that abuse was the only way to advance.”
Barghouty also claimed that the non-disclosure agreements were oftentimes used as a scapegoat by the higher-ups for some of the behavior exhibited at Vice.
There are various other stories from those who left Vice, as well as a few who attempted to corroborate the workplace environment at Vice being “toxic”, but due to the NDA there are no current employees willing to go on record without facing legal repercussions.
This also comes on the heels of another Vice contributor, Michael Hafford, who was accused of sexually assaulting at least four women. Vice and other media outlets distanced themselves from Hafford after the allegations surfaced.
But that wasn’t all…
Another Vice contributor and alleged sexual assaulter, Sam Kriss, also came under fire for multiple accounts of sexual misconduct. Much like with Hafford, Vice also attempted to distance themselves from Kriss by firing him.
The Daily Beast reached out to Vice regarding the other claims made against some of its male staff and how their females were locked into a contract binding them from speaking out, and Vice sent them a response, stating…
“The nature of Vice’s content runs the gamut, from travelogues and news series to more provocative programming like our shows exploring drug culture, Weediquette and Bong Appétit. A non-traditional workplace agreement is often used by companies to certify employees’ comfort with content that could be considered edgy. However, it does not in any way sanction conduct that is disrespectful or biased, and we will investigate all allegations of such behavior, including any incidents where employees purportedly attempted to justify their conduct through the agreement. We have immediately begun reviewing this matter.”
Vice is one of the larger and more notorious outlets for taking aim at #GamerGate.
The outlet has published more than two dozen articles denigrating the consumer revolt, oftentimes maligning it throughout a variety of news and opinion pieces, with coverage on the main Vice site ranging from 2014 all the way up through 2016. Since then the site has moved over its coverage of attacking #GamerGate to its Motherboard and Waypoint verticals, where they’ve continued to conflate #GamerGate with harassment, the Alt-Right and Donald Trump.
#GamerGate became a popular punching bag for Vice, Vox and Gawker because the consumer revolt oftentimes called out unethical media practices and corruption within the journalism circuit.
Just recently #GamerGate communities called out Patrick Klepek from Vice’s Waypoint brand for pushing fake news about an alleged developer who received thousands of messages of harassment over the loot box scandal surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront II. It turns out that the individual was not a developer working at Electronic Arts and he did not receive thousands of messages of harassment, and the whole thing was put into the spotlight by corrupt media outlets pushing the narrative about gamers being harassers.
In fact, that narrative about harassment was concocted to stifle the much-needed conversation about corruption within the media industry. However, that facade is now quickly falling away to reveal the ugly truth behind these media empires being accused of massive amounts of sexual misconduct.