Polygon’s Julia Alexander wrote an article on June 19th, 2018 titled “VidCon CEO addresses last year’s Anita Sarkeesian incident: ‘We made a mistake’. The article attempts to rewrite history and paint a scenario where YouTubers who have criticized Anita Sarkeesian’s work in the past were there to intimidate and harass her. The article fabricates a number of falsehoods regarding #GamerGate and what actually happened at VidCon in 2017.
The article interviews the new CEO of VidCon, Jim Louderback, as he talks about what the company should have done differently at the fan convention last year after Anita Sarkeesian verbally harassed an audience member, saying…
“As we get better every year we’re like, ‘Oh, we made a mistake there,’” […] “We’re just going to make sure we don’t let that happen this year. We’ll have some more senior VidCon staff at some of the sessions that we probably think this could happen. But if anything happens we’ll actually have staff that are empowered to smooth it out if we need to. We want to stand for speakers, too. We’re going to still worry about that. I felt so bad for Anita. It was a tough one. It’s a real tough one.”
Louderback is referring to when various YouTubers from the anti-SJW side of the political spectrum took front row seats at a panel about women facing harassment, featuring Anita Sarkeesian. When Sarkeesian spotted one of her toughest critics, Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin, she proceeded to berate him with verbal harassment.
You can view the footage of the event and what kickstarted the incident with the video below from YouTuber Zoe Does Life.
Other YouTubers also covered the incident, including Philip DeFranco, who also sided with Sargon and the YouTubers who were simply sitting in attendance watching Sarkeesian’s panel.
A variety of female YouTubers also criticized Anita Sarkeesian for harassing Sargon of Akkad, such as Barbara4u2c.
Nevertheless, Polygon’s Julia Alexander rewrites the story, first claiming that #GamerGate was a harassment campaign, and then attempting to paint Sarkeesian as the victim at VidCon…
“At VidCon 2017, Sarkeesian appeared on a panel titled Women Online, and explored subjects like harassment that women often face on the internet. It’s a topic Sarkeesian knows intimately; she was one of the primary targets during GamerGate, a harassment campaign that targeted women in the games industry masked as a fight for ethics in games journalism, and still faces backlash today for her Tropes vs. Women documentary series.”
As mentioned in previous articles, there has never been any cited evidence that #GamerGate was ever a harassment campaign. The consumer revolt was always about outing corrupt journalists using sociopolitics to unethically promote friends, to unethically promote content, and unethically disrupt gaming.
The FBI did an investigation into #GamerGate for more than nine months and couldn’t find any evidence of it being a harassment campaign. A peer-reviewed report by Women Action Media!, could not find enough data to support the media’s claims that it was a harassment campaign.
Polygon has violated multiple ethical standards over the years, including this latest article that purports multiple falsehoods.
Nevertheless, after taking aim at #GamerGate, Julia Alexander then decided to take aim at Dave Cullen and Sargon of Akkad, writing…
“While Sarkeesian is used to speaking in front of large crowds, her VidCon appearance was made more stressful by the appearance of a few notorious YouTubers who have antagonized her over the year, including Carl Benajmin (aka “Sargon of Akkad”) and Dave Cullen. When Sarkeesian addressed Benjamin and his pals sitting in the first few rows in an attempt to antagonize her, Benjamin started yelling back about his right to debate her. A statement released by VidCon following the panel called out Benjamin, Cullen and others’ for “intentional intimidation,” adding that “the panelists were understandably on edge throughout the discussion.”
You can see in the videos above that there was no intimidation from those in attendance, since they were quiet until Sarkeesian, by name, pointed out Sargon and directed a verbal assault at him. Polygon has no citations for when Sargon of Akkad or Dave Cullen antagonized Sarkeesian, but makes the claim anyway.
Content creator Bunty King chimed in from his Facebook page, rebutting the claims made by Polygon, writing…
“Why is Polygon lying about last VidCon?
“I was at Anita’s panel and listened quietly to what her and her colleagues had to say. Hell, I even appreciated what some of them had to say.
“No one yelled at her. However, during one instance I exclaimed “women are powerful.” Something I wholeheartedly believe in, having been surrounded by powerful women all my life.”
Bunty King also produced a video, giving his own perspective of the event.
The Polygon article doesn’t address Bunty King, nor does it address any of the women who were in attendance alongside Sargon of Akkad and Dave Cullen.
Images from the event shows Sargon of Akkad sitting in the front row along with a number of other YouTubers watching the panel, as reported in the piece on The Sun by Ian Miles Cheong.
If you need to watch the full panel to judge for yourself, YouTuber Gina Annunziato covers 50 minutes of the entire panel. Throughout it all, there is no point where the YouTubers in the front row actively harass or verbally antagonize Anita Sarkeesian.
You may have noticed that YouTuber Matt Jarbo, who goes by the online handle of Mundane Matt, was also in attendance. As he recounts in his own video, there was no intimidation, no harassment, and no provocation by him nor the others sitting in the front row.
Despite all of the video evidence and the multiple firsthand testimonies, last year when the reports initially went live, the former owners of VidCon, Hank and John Green, actually sided with Anita Sarkeesian, placing the blame on Sargon of Akkad and the others who were in attendance. This is despite the fact that Hank and John had to reluctantly admit that Sarkeesian broke VidCon rules by enacting targeted harassment at an attendee.
On June 27th, 2017 the Green brothers wrote…
“This year, we had a contingent of attendees (some who paid, some who snuck in with fake passes) who had been either perpetrators of this harassment, or had, for years, watched as the outrage they cultivated resulted in followers doxxing, harassing, intimidating, and even threatening the lives of the creators on these panels.
“It is difficult to imagine that this group of people (who are aware that their channels have been base-camps for years of harassment of some of our panelists) did not realize that their arriving early to fill up the three front rows of a panel was going to be intimidating. In any case, it looked like intentional intimidation to most people in attendance, and the panelists were understandably on edge throughout the discussion.”
The Greens attributed malice to the intent of the YouTubers showing up at Sarkeesian’s panel, citing intimidation tactics. This did not go down well with the general public who openly called out Hank and John Green for the double standards of enabling harassment committed by Anita Sarkeesian simply because they agree with her politics.
Outlets like Polygon and ComicsVerse have been attempting to redefine “harassment” to mean someone disagreeing with another person, even though this is despite the fact that just a year prior in 2016 Anita Sarkeesian mentioned during a VidCon panel that simply criticizing someone was not harassment.
While Loudbacker didn’t explicitly say that they would be banning any of the YouTubers that Sarkeesian directly harassed, Polygon notes that Sarkeesian did hope that they would be banning people who were politically opposed to her views, writing…
“Louderback didn’t say anything about banning or refusing entry to YouTubers known for inciting harassment toward others, but it’s something that Sarkeesian told Polygon last year she hopes the staff consider.”
So far, Louderback told Polygon that VidCon would be increasing security for panels tackling “divisive issues” and that they didn’t want to shy away from those topics.
Many readers, YouTubers, and those who attended VidCon have been calling out Polygon for its yellow journalism, especially since the article labeled those who attended Anita Sarkeesian’s panel as individuals who incited “harassment toward others”.
Even with evidence proving that many of the claims made in the Polygon piece are untrue, as you can see from the results on Google, the search engine giant has no qualms with featuring literal fake news front center so long as it adheres to the kind of sociopolitical agenda they want users to consume.
(Thanks for the news tips Lyle, Ian Miles Cheong, Gina, and Synfel)