Rolling Stone founder and majority-owner Jann Wenner stands accused of demanding sex from freelance worker Ben Ryan in exchange for a lucrative contract. This makes Wenner the 11th member of the elite media accused of some form of sexual misconduct.
“I had Jann Wenner’s tongue in my mouth,” Ryan, told the left-wing BuzzFeed. “I went along for a second but then said something to the effect of ‘Oh please, I’m not that kind of girl.’”
Ryan, who was 29 in 2005 (when the alleged event occurred), said that Wenner invited him up for a drink at his townhouse. The two sat down on a couch. This is when Wenner pounced with the unwanted kiss. Ryan, who is also gay, says he was “totally grossed out” by the uninvited physical contact.
When he got up to leave, BuzzFeed reports, “Wenner made him an offer: Stay, and I’ll give you a writing contract.”
Ryan says he turned the sex-for-work offer down.
In a statement, Wenner told BuzzFeed a very different story:
I met Ben twelve years ago and I attempted to have a sexual liaison with him. He turned me down, which I respected. I had no intention of making him feel uncomfortable. His piece was subsequently published in any case; no work was promised and no work was lost. I have never and would never make an offer of this kind.
BuzzFeed spoke with Ryan’s boyfriend, who verified that Ryan told him about the encounter at the time. Ryan also claims to have kept a journal where, at the time, he wrote the following:
Thursday, August 11, 2005. Last night Jann Wenner asked me to come to his townhouse for a drink at 10:30 p.m. I knew this would happen sooner or later, I just didn’t think he’d take such a direct approach. It was the most pure form of sexual harassment: he pawed and groped and I insisted no but he persisted promising me a “25 article contract” in the most disingenuous voice. “Preferential treatment.” I was forced to kiss him. His mouth was dry and he was a serpent-like kisser, lashing with his tongue. After 90 minutes I left dignity relatively intact.
BuzzFeed also quotes two excerpts from a new biography about Wenner that details his alleged misconduct:
He fancied himself as a sort of polymorphous-perverse William Randolph Hearst,” said Glenn O’Brien, who joined Rolling Stone in 1973 and quit after what he said were Wenner’s unwanted advances. “He told me he had slept with everyone who had worked for him.
He didn’t discriminate between men and women; he liked them both. “He was hitting on every girl and every guy,” said Lynn Hirschberg. “He once grabbed me around the hips and said, ‘Ten more pounds and you’ll be perfect.’ This was in front of everybody at a meeting and I wanted to die. It was like this schoolboy crap.
The timing for this scandal could not be worse for the left-wing publication. Rolling Stone’s star writer, Matt Taibbi, is currently embroiled in a massive scandal where he is left with only two options: to admit to being a misogynist monster or a Stephen Glass-type fabulist. Rolling Stone is also still dealing with the reputational and legal fallout over its botch University of Virginia gang-rape story.
To make matters even worse, Wenner is currently trying to sell his piece of Rolling Stone.
This news is also terrible for the overall national media.
Although the establishment media is circling the wagons to smother this mushrooming scandal, there is simply no getting around the fact that — along with Taibbi, Mark Halperin of NBC News and ABC News, David Corn of Mother Jones, Leon Wieseltier and Hamilton Fish of the New Republic, Michael Oreskes of NPR and the New York Times, and four Guardian reporters and editors — Wenner is the 11th member of the venerated Fourth Estate to stand accused of misconduct.
While every twist and turn of the Fox News harassment scandal continues to make screaming headlines, media journalists like CNN’s Brian Stelter, Oliver Darcy, and Dylan Byers; the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple and Paul Farhi; HuffPo’s Michael Calderone; the New Yorker’s Gabriel Sherman; the Boston Sun’s David Zurawik, and the left-wing Mediaite, continue to cover up the scope of what is obviously a systemic problem within their own institution.
While these reporters do cover and sometimes even uncover this alleged wrongdoing, it is always compartmentalized as an individual story unique to a person or single news outlet. But when you are talking about 11 allegations in a little over a month, there is no question that the elite media as a whole is filled with institutional rot and legions of enablers.
Nevertheless, while no one is claiming the Fox News scandal is not a big, newsworthy scandal (it is), among others, even as the list of victims pile up, the eight so-called media reporters listed above have entered into a conspiracy of silence to report only on the symptoms of what is, without question, a very real media-cancer.