Former contributor to The Escapist Magazine, Robert B. Marks – who is also a published author – posted a message over on the The Escapist forums making his intentions clear that he intended to file a libel suit against the new owners of The Escapist, Enthusiast Gaming, for remarks made by the new editor-in-chief, Russ Pitts, who claimed that The Escapist had become a breeding ground and recruiting tool for the Alt-Right before it was purchased by Enthusiast Gaming.
The post was made on August 7th, 2018 by Robert B. Marks, but was shortly thereafter deleted.
In the post Marks explains that now that his non-disclosure agreement has expired, he was free to talk about some of the things that went on behind the scenes at The Escapist. More than anything, however, he disputed the claims made by Pitts in a July 28th, 2018 podcast on Molehill Mountain hosted by Andrew Eisen.
Marks explained in the forum post…
“As many reading this are aware, from 2015-2017 I had a pop culture column here called Garwulf’s Corner. Our new editor-in-chief, through a post on Medium and a webcast with Andrew Eisen, characterized myself and everybody who contributed or worked here after 2014 as putting a political agenda ahead of our integrity, and of being extremists who were involved in recruiting for the alt-right.
“These allegations are false (even the most cursory glance at the content and archives will show them to be untrue, and they are being made by somebody who did not work at The Escapist during that time, which was a time in which those who did contribute and work for the Escapist, like myself, did so with non-disclosure clauses in our contracts). They also fall under the category of defamation and libel under the Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.12, and I am treating it as such. Today I commenced libel proceedings against Enthusiast Gaming and began the process of bringing this matter before the Superior Court.”
The post was deleted shortly thereafter, and it’s unclear if Marks deleted the post himself or if the moderators on the forum deleted the post. Nevertheless, Marks re-posted the same message over on Medium.
The legal threats from Marks followed on the heels of another post he made available over on Medium, which was published on August 1st, 2018. In the Medium post Marks expounds on the behind-the-scenes editorial process at The Escapist, and refutes any claims that there was an Alt-Right agenda being exercised by the editorial staff. In fact, Marks makes it known that many of the staff were Left-leaning and that he himself was an avid Canadian Centrist. He goes on to write…
“It’s all really un-dramatic, I guess. It would be exciting and controversial to have tales about articles being killed because they didn’t support the alt-right, or editorial pressure to write about SJW conspiracies, but none of that was happening, at least not to me. I was given near-complete freedom to write about whatever I wanted, and I was never asked or instructed to take a specific political stance.”
This was corroborated by Brandon Morse, who was also on staff at The Escapist, and despite leaning Right, he never actually wrote anything for The Escapist. In a Reddit post published on July 30th, 2018, Morse explained…
“[…] I never actually got to write [at The Escapist]. DEFY told Macris to put me on their right-leaning political site EveryJoe after the SocJus left went psychotic over a tweet I had posted that told trans people to stop forcing others to pretend with them. If Pitts thinks The Escapist was an alt-right site, he’s dreaming. Not only am I not alt-right, neither was Lizzy, Liana, etc. What’s more, we never had the intent to write about politics on the site. We were expressly informed not to.”
The confutation from Morse and Marks came after Pitts told Eisen that The Escapist was a recruiting ground for the Alt-Right.
Pitts made some very bold statements in the interview with Eisen, saying…
“[…] [The Escapist] was allowed to turn into a very extremist video game outlet, and a breeding ground and a recruitment tool for Alt-Right operatives.
“And yeah it earned a pretty bad reputation. It bled talent like crazy. It bled advertisers like crazy. The industry shunned The Escapist. And that’s the state that it was in when it was spun down… effectively when my partners and I bought it.”
Pitts also claimed that the editorial was chosen based on political leanings, claiming that assignments were given based on politics, saying…
“So when I say we’re going to leave politics at the door, what I mean is this is not going to be the Alt-Right place anymore. This is not going to be a place where editorial is chosen based on political opinion, where assignments are given because of whether you agree with my politics or not. We’re not going to be foisting a political agenda on our audience, or our writers, or the industry.
According to Marks, most of the staff that were there during the time when Josh Vanderwall was editor-in-chief were Centrists or Left-leaning, so perhaps Pitts can provide some details or information on the contributors and content he’s referring to.
Marks also confirmed by e-mail that he is proceeding with the steps to garner a retraction from Enthusiast Gaming, and is not averse to pursuing further legal action if necessary.
I did try to reach out to Russ Pitts regarding asking him questions about some of the comments he made, but I haven’t received a response from him.
I also reached out to Enthusiast Gaming’s CEO to inquire about the status of the libel filing and whether they were aware of Marks’ statements. If they decide to respond I’ll update the article with their statements.
(Thanks for the news tip Blaugast)