Miltenberg: “NYC Columnist Who Created Anonymous Google Spreadsheet of ‘Sh***y Media Men’ at the Start of #MeToo Movement Could Stand Trial for Defamation After Being Sued by Journalist on the List ‘Accused of Rape, Sexual Harassment and Coercion’,” DailyMail UK


New York City columnist who created the notorious ‘Sh***y Media Men’ list detailing allegations of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct could still go to trial for defamation after a judge declined to resolve the case in her favor. Moira Donegan, 32, who created the widely circulated list in 2017 at the height of the #MeToo movement, was sued by New Orleans-based journalist Stephen Elliott after the Google spreadsheet accused him of rape, sexual harassment and ‘coercion.’ Elliott’s lawsuit claimed the allegations are ‘false’ and ‘unsubstantiated.’ Donegan’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, sought immunity for her client under a controversial law protecting social media users who host or republish information from being held legally responsible for what others do or say online. U.S. District Court Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall on Thursday, in an order obtained by, declined the request, arguing that Donegan’s testimony and ‘vague’ recollections about the document did not ‘rule out the possibility’ that she encouraged others to make posts that broke the law. DeArcy Hall’s ruling leaves the possibility that Donegan could stand trial for defamation, but the case could still be resolved by the judge on ‘other grounds.’ More than 70 men were named on the ‘Sh***y Media Men’ spreadsheet before it was taken offline. Elliott, who is seeking $1.5 million in damages, appears to be the only alleged victim to sue the Brooklyn-based writer. Elliott filed his suit against Donegan in 2017, accusing her and at least 30 other unnamed co-defendants of knowingly publishing false allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him. His complaint alleged both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of him being included on the list. He claimed the publication caused him to ‘became extremely depressed’ and that he ‘enrolled in therapy while actively contemplating suicide.’ The journalist also claimed his professional life suffered, as well as his personal life, alleging he was met with isolation from ’employers, colleagues, business associates, friends and family members’ after he was accused of ‘being a rapist,’ among other things. In addition to the financial compensation, Elliott wants a court order requiring the defendants to ‘issue a written retraction to each and every person to whom they originally published the false and defamatory statements.’ Kaplan had attempted to block Elliott’s suit based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states: ‘No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.’ Donegan, in an affidavit, alleged she did not ‘solicit or encourage anyone to add false statements or false misconduct allegations’ to the spreadsheet. Her lawyer also argued that Donegan couldn’t have encouraged any of falsehoods against Elliott because she did not know him. However, the judge ultimately decided that Donegan – whose Twitter bio says she is currently a gender and politics columnist at The Guardian U.S. – hadn’t provided enough evidence to prove she is entitled to use the Communications Decency Act to block the suit. ‘Unfortunately, Defendant offers no authority for this proposition and the court has found none,’ DeArcy Hall wrote in the 17-page order. She cited Donegan’s testimony and ‘vague recollections’ of the events surrounding the list as evidence for her ruling. ‘Rather than providing facts regarding her communications with respect to the Spreadsheet, Defendant’s testimony simply highlights that she does not recall what she said or wrote to others regarding the Spreadsheet,’ DeArcy Hall wrote. ‘Defendant’s inability to recall the contents of her communications leaves open the possibility that Defendant did specifically encourage the posting of unlawful content.’ One of Elliott’s attorneys, Andrew Miltenberg, issued a statement to Friday night, reading: ‘Allowing this lawsuit to move forward is critical for due process and the Constitutional right for the accused to face their accusers, particularly at a time in the MeToo era when online, anonymous accusations are being made with impunity, destroying reputations and careers. ‘Judge DeArcy Hall’s decision today shows that Section 230 is not an acceptable defense for being the ring-leader of broad-based online character assassinations. Moreover, the fact that Ms. Donegan deleted her “Sh***y Media Men” spreadsheet and the majority of her related communications – the primary evidence in this case – is revealing.’

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