Update: Fifteen days have passed without Gabriel Sherman heeding Nansen Malin’s heartfelt advice (Malin’s original letter is below) or responding in any way to the matter. Perhaps retweeting Nansen’s latest tweet to Sherman will help him find his courage.
Hey @gabrielsherman Have you unfollowed @elizabeth_ailes yet? bit.ly/11UE5vp
— Nansen Malin (@nansen) April 10, 2013
I am writing you today, not as a blogger covering your pending book on Roger Ailes and Fox News, but as a woman with a considerable online presence who sees danger signs in your social media behavior. You seem to have dedicated your entire life to following Roger Ailes. You and your cohorts have taken your obsession too far by targeting Mrs. Ailes. In the event you haven’t learned yet, No means No. Even on Twitter.
I have just a little expertise in “being social” in social media. I understand how it works.
I can also make a bold statement about what doesn’t work. Let me be clear, leave @Elizabeth_Ailes alone!
Two weeks ago, you decided to follow Mrs. Ailes on Twitter. In response, she tweeted this to you. (Since this account is not verified, I am making the assumption – like many others, including Gabe Sherman – the tweets are from “the” Mrs. Elizabeth Ailes.)
I understand you are writing a new book The Loudest Voice In The Room about Fox News and Roger Ailes. Is there a chapter about creepy stalking your target’s spouse?
Ok, perhaps Mrs. Ailes should simply ‘unfollow’ you. I would recommend that to everyone. Yes, she could block you, and you would simply use that as a reason to write even more about her. Gabriel, YOU should unfollow her.
This episode didn’t end with your tweet, though, and this is where the affair crossed a vivid line…
Your colleague, Erik Wemple, who always seems to jump to your defense at the slightest provocation, felt compelled to effectively call this woman stupid–and to decide what “leave me alone” should mean. He took to the pages of The Washington Post’s blog–yes, the entity that broke Watergate and countless other important news stories to explain that Mrs. Ailes is too stupid to recognize that Twitter is not a street corner. Really Erik? Even on Twitter, No means No.
From Wemple’s blog at The Washington Post:
With merely six tweets on the account, @Elizabeth_Ailes might need a little briefing on the Twitterverse. “Following” someone on the social network, after all, isn’t like following them around their neighborhood, place of employment or house.
You might be asking me why do I even care about etiquette on social media? Men in your position of influence should always take the high road and not stoop to teaming up for harassment. Women, and especially conservative women, are targeted every day with verbal assaults on social media. The language of these attacks is profane and the disrespect of human dignity is shocking.
Ben Howe, husband of conservative blogger Breeanna Howe–a victim of sickening, verbal assaults–wrote a thoughtful piece at RedState.com about this dynamic:
We all remember Nickelodeon “star” Jason Biggs’ offensive tweet last year about Rep. Paul Ryan’s wife, herself not nearly as much of a public figure. Last week, some conservatives on Twitter noted that Elizabeth Ailes, wife of Fox News chief Roger Ailes, was apparently expressing frustration at the fact that Gabriel Sherman, a Fox-obsessive reporter writing an unauthorized book on Roger Ailes/Fox (but notably not Elizabeth), was following her on Twitter, despite the allegation that he had previously been told to leave her alone. (The Twitter account in question is not verified, so like others, I’m assuming it really is that of Elizabeth Ailes).
Those things are both on the warm and fuzzy end of the scale, though one is quite offensive and the other certainly bothersome given prior allegations of Sherman “harassing” and engaging in “stalker media” tactics vis a vis Mrs. Ailes (as opposed to her very high-profile and much-scrutinized husband).
But imagine someone threatening you with actual sexual violence. It happens, and like much of the rest of the out-of-bounds behavior we see take place within social media, its apparent objective is silencing dissent through intimidation (See the bottom of this post for examples if you can stomach it).
WARNING: The tweets linked in Howe’s piece are not safe for work, or for viewing by kids. Even adults might want to avert their eyes.
Gabriel, it is time to stop bullying and stalking the victims of your deep seated Media Matters/Think Progress/Saul Alinsky type mission to attack Roger Ailes using the money you have been given from a George Soros funded group. As a gentleman and a journalist, you should focus on your topic – Roger Ailes and Fox News. #UnFollowElizabethAiles.
Didn’t we all just get done laughing hysterically at Ashley Judd for comparing running for senate to rape? And now this article seeks to do much the same, comparing following someone on Twitter to date rape, with it’s “no means no” language. How ridiculous.
I think Sherman should leave Mrs. Ailes alone too, but not because she is female, because it is a crass thing to do, and we all could use a break from the mean-spiritedness that has taken over public life in the age of the internet.
Certainly, in the physical world, it is natural that society should be somewhat more protective of women (although I should note here that men are – by far – more likely to be victims of violence) since they are generally physically smaller, and so less able to defend themselves unless armed.
But online, where the worst that can happen is a foul insult, why should this be the case? Are women delicate flowers that must be protected from any violation of their precious sensibilities? Sorry, I don’t buy that – women are not children.
This article is absurd. Following on Twitter is in no way comparable to stalking. To claim so demonstrates a profound ignorance of social media. This point is either being willfully ignored by Ms. Ailes or she is, in fact, as stupid as Mr. Wemple suggests.
As for your contention that conservative women are particularly targeted for verbal assualts on social media may I suggest you glance at the comment section of the FoxNation website under any story concerning a liberal woman? Any story about Michelle Obama attracts an especially colorful class of conservative comments.