Following the New York Times Harvey Weinstein exposé in October, American and international industries started examining their own communities for instances of sexual assault and harassment. In the publishing world, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein resigned after the Paris Review board commenced investigations into his treatment of female writers and employees. Aside from that, however, publishing largely seemed unable or unwilling to take its own male leaders to task.
Then in mid-November actress and comedienne, Charlyne Yi posted on her social media platforms that she had reported Penguin Random House U.S. (PRH) art director Giuseppe Castellano to Penguin Random House human relations (HR) after Castellano sexually harassed her in October. By December 1st investigations brought on by Yi’s report had concluded with Castellano resigning. The next day Castellano himself tweeted a link to a statement on his personal blog regarding his resignation.
As difficult as it is for survivors to read the many headlines about male predators being exposed, they also sometimes lead to justice for the women, men, and non-binary people (who conform to neither gender) who speak up. Castellano’s resignation should have been one such instance. Instead, Publishers Weekly (PW), a news magazine dedicated to international publishing news, posted an article on Castellano’s resignation that seems to favor Castellano and cast doubt on Yi.
It’s important not to down-play Publishers Weekly‘s influence in the publishing world: since the magazine’s founding in 1872, PW has employed numerous influential leaders in the industry. It has also expanded since then and produces several regular e-newsletters and podcasts as well as co-sponsoring a variety of international book fairs and conferences. Oddly, it was Jim Milliot, PW editorial director of 23 years whose regular focus is on “mergers, acquisitions, and financial performance,” who covered Castellano’s resignation. Milliot directly quotes Castellano’s statement several times throughout the article. Milliot does not, however, quote Yi and only links to Yi’s original tweets and reaction to Castellano’s statement. Additionally, Milliot did not include screenshots of email correspondence between Castellano and Yi (below) that Yi publicly posted to both Twitter and Facebook and sent to the Penguin Random House human relations department.
Indeed, it’s not until the seventh (!) paragraph of the article that Penguin Random House’s statement appears. In it, Penguin Random House U.S. announces that Castellano resigned after two investigations – PRH’s own internal investigation as well as an external investigation conducted by a contracted law firm – made it “clear” to Castellano his own continued “presence” within the organization could potentially “impact the day to day workings of the Penguin Workshop imprint.” Although PRH’s statement places the responsibility for the resignation on Castellano himself, Milliot quotes Castellano’s statement in which he blames Yi and claims that her “online campaign” against him resulted in an “untenable disruption of business.” Yi has not spoken to any media outlets or publications about Castellano’s harassment.
After quoting a segment of Castellano’s statement referring to Castellano’s “wife and three small children,” Milliot closes out the article with a paragraph of Yi taking the comedian and actor David Cross to task in October for racist remarks he said to her at their first meeting. Aside from Yi and Cross’s interactions being irrelevant to Castellano’s resignation, Milliot also fails to mention that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actress Amber Tamblyn, who is Cross’s wife and an outspoken supporter of sexual assault/harassment survivors (she revealed in September that then-52-year-old actor James Wood tried to pick her up when she was 16), publicly stated that she believes and supports Yi. For his part Cross initially dismissed and gaslighted Yi, critiquing Yi’s account and casting doubt on her story. It wasn’t until Yi took to Twitter to defend Tamblyn from people who were blaming her for Cross’s actions that Cross apologized to Yi for hurting her and expressed regret “that this whole thing played out as it did.”
I spoke to @charlyne_yi and her feelings/safety are all that matter to me. We’re good. I owe you nothing, Twitter. You’re lucky to have me.
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) October 20, 2017
Publishers Weekly‘s coverage of Castellano’s resignation is disheartening and a stark contrast to the organization’s social media presence, that includes retweets of New York Times and Bitch Magazine articles highlighting harassment within the publishing industry. Anyone casually scrolling PW‘s Twitter account might well think that Publishers Weekly stands by survivors. The Castellano article seems to say otherwise. Apparently, allyship with female survivors is easier said than done.
This, of course, is the crux of the issue with the PW article: the automatic doubt and gaslighting that befalls women who speak out about the harassment and assault at the hands of men, even when the women have little to gain and much to lose by speaking out in the first place. (In one of Yi’s tweets responding to Castellano’s statement she mentions being told that her story alone “was not enough evidence” and that “more people” would be needed to speak out on Castellano’s behavior and credibility. Meanwhile, sources within the publishing industry say that Castellano’s history of inappropriate behavior towards women is “known” within the community. One source, in particular, stated that they knew of three other similar cases.) This prioritization of men’s word over the word of women may seem innocuous, but it stems from the misogynistic belief that women are not to be believed, that we are too emotional, or are liars. It is beyond disappointing that this belief continues and reveals itself in biased reporting.