Miltenberg: “Writer Named in Controversial ‘Media Men’ List Wins Round in Court,” Politico


A libel lawsuit over a widely circulated Google spreadsheet listing men in the news media who had allegedly committed sexual assault, abuse or similar improprieties moved closer to trial Thursday after a judge rejected a bid by the document’s creator to resolve the case in her favor. Prepared at the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, the “shitty media men” list caused a major stir, with some defending the right of women to warn other women about dangerous men in their midst and critics complaining that the roster sullied men’s reputations without due process. One man among the more than 70 named in the list before it was taken offline, New Orleans-based writer Stephen Elliott, sued for defamation over text in the spreadsheet that accused him of rape, sexual harassment and “coercion,” according to court records. His suit called the allegations “false” and “unsubstantiated.” The lead defendant in the suit, Brooklyn-based writer and editor Moira Donegan, has acknowledged she created the spreadsheet and shared it with others, but says she did not enter Elliott’s name or the claims about him. Donegan’s high-profile attorney, Roberta Kaplan, argued that Donegan should be immune from the suit because of a controversial law that blocks litigation against social media platforms among others, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. However, in the new ruling, U.S. District Court Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall concluded that Donegan had not shown at this juncture that she is entitled to use that law to block the suit. Donegan said in an affidavit that she did not “solicit or encourage anyone to add false statements or false misconduct allegations” to the spreadsheet.

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