[Update 12/18/2018:] As the legal costs are starting to add up, Marks has started a GoFundMe page to help cover the legal fees for the defamation suit against The Escapist.
[Original article:] The defamation lawsuit against Enthusiast Gaming relating to disparaging comments that The Escapist editor-in-chief Russ Pitts made regarding previous staff members has turned over a new leaf of information relating to some of the allegations that have come up regarding Pitts back when he was originally the editor-in-chief at The Escapist during his first run with the publication.
The revelations came up during a recent Medium post on December 17th, 2018 made by Robert B. Marks, who filed the lawsuit against the parent company of The Escapist, Enthusiast Gaming. The post contains links to the affidavits, which can be viewed over on Google Drive. In one of the documents, discusses all of the occurrences leading up to the lawsuit at present, along with statements gathered from previous staff members of The Escapist, who described some of Pitts’ behavior during his first run at running The Escapist many years ago. In the document posted up on December 17th, 2018 it recounts some of Pitts’ behavior, where it states…
”The first tenure of Mr. Fletcher, alias Russ Pitts, as Editor-in-Chief of The Escapist was
characterized by Mr. Fletcher terrorizing and abusing the staff working under him. This abuse included repeated references to Mr. Fletcher’s ownership of a firearm, as well as Mr. Fletcher bringing in shooting targets to show to the staff despite being aware that it made them uncomfortable. Some members of the staff were left in fear of being shot by Mr. Fletcher.
“Mr. Fletcher’s abuse of Escapist employees became so bad that Joshua Vanderwall, who worked in a different department at the time, started a petition to remove Mr. Fletcher from the position of Editor-in-Chief. This petition was signed by multiple members of Mr. Fletcher’s staff.
“Mr. Fletcher also, on multiple occasions, took credit for the work of others, going as far as erasing Janelle Bonanno Vanderwall, the Executive Director who incorporated the Take This charity, from the charity’s history and claiming credit instead.”
The document also goes on to explain that since coming back to The Escapist, Russ Pitts has referred to the community and staff at The Escapist as fostering a community for the “Alt-Right” and “Nazis”. Pitts’ comments were made both privately and publicly to other media and industry professionals, as well as across social media. However, Pitts has been attempting to erase a lot of tweets and comments he’s made online, deleting thousands of tweets on November 7th, 2018.
As noted in the document…
“Between 2014 and 2018, Mr. Fletcher tweeted numerous times declaring The Escapist to be an alt-right or neo-Nazi haven.
“On or about the time of his appointment, Mr. Fletcher removed tens of thousands of tweets from his Twitter account, reducing the number of tweets from 62,300 tweets on November 4, 2017, to 3,102 tweets on December 7, 2018. It is very likely these tweets were deleted to remove the evidence of malicious and defamatory comments against The Escapist prior to his re-appointment as its Editor-in-Chief.”
Robert B. Marks has been attempting to get a retraction and an apology of these comments, so that it doesn’t taint his profile nor the profiles of other former staff at The Escapist who have been broadly brushed as supporters of the “Alt-Right”. However, as evident in the latest statements made by Pitts back in the middle of November of 2018, Pitts stands by that all Right-wing ideology and those who adopt Right-wing beliefs are the equivalent of Nazis.
In the post, Marks explains the physical and emotional toll that the lawsuit has taken on him and how Pitts labeling previous staff members of The Escapist as “Alt-Right” and attempting to conflate their work with being a dog whistle for Nazism has put some of his career projects in jeopardy.
Marks explains the dangers of Pitts’ comments and how they could be dangerous for their prospective careers, writing…
“For one thing, now that he’s painted me, along with my fellow contributors and editors, with these allegations, I may very well be blacklisted from a number of major pop culture outlets. There are some people I can still work for, but they’re the ones who know me and who I’ve worked with before, and they are few and far between. Anybody else might look at my work history, remember Russ Pitts’ allegations about The Escapist, its content, and its editorial staff at that time, and decide to go with somebody else. So, getting an article into Wired, or Polygon, or Gamasutra has just been made more difficult, if not impossible.”
This is actually scarily true.
We saw a similar blacklisting incident occur with a former Destructoid journalist named Allistair Pinsof, who was blacklisted from video game journalism after certain groups called for his firing after he did an article outing a trans individual for crowdfunding corruption.
Having opportunities squandered or limited based on defamation can be a terrible blight for one’s career, and Robert B. Marks doesn’t want the socially inflammatory labels to linger around his name nor the names of those who previously worked at The Escapist. The legal proceedings are expected to resume in January of 2019.
(Main image courtesy of Tech News Today)