About a month ago, I wrote a post about Milo that, by happenstance, discussed a lawsuit in Brad Wardell’s past. At the time, it didn’t catch fire. Simply put, no one cared. I think it had 11 comments as of last Thursday, and I’d forgotten about it entirely.
On Friday, Brad spoke up and condemned the article. I happened to be on top of a Mayan temple at the time (no shit), but when I got back to my laptop and saw the twitterstorm, I immediately edited the article to include links to his side of the story, as well as my quick takes on the issue. I then reached out to him on Twitter, and we talked a couple of times that night – at length. The talks were actually surprisingly pleasant and open.
In the course of this conversation (and some further digging on my part), Brad made a convincing case that I probably erred in trusting Kotaku’s reporting uncritically in this instance. Part of this was him showing me documentation from the case. Translation: he took me up on my offer. I’m opting not to link these here at Brad’s request – at any rate, he has his own forum for doing so if he so chooses, and if anyone asks to see these, I’m just going to say I’ve seen ‘em, and direct you to ask him if you’re a reporter.
I’ve also done some external investigation, in an attempt to be sure I’m … well, at least closer to right. Three quick examples:
- Brad sent me documentation showing me that Kotaku gave him mere hours – at the end of a workday – to respond to the story before publishing it – a story that had clearly been in the works for weeks. The notice had little or no mention of the fact that the story would be based on leaked court proceedings, meaning that Brad had neither the time to address it, nor the ability to rebut the specific extremely damaging claims being aimed towards him. (As such, Brad did not comment on that article at all, which looked all the more damning).
- Brad sent me documentation showing that the case of Stardock vs. the Complainant for lost marketing materials was in active Arbitration as early as a full year before the judged moved the other case to trial, which actively challenges Kotaku’s narrative (which I parroted) that this lawsuit was retaliatory and designed solely to make the sexual harassment lawsuit just go away.
- Brad was quite compelling in pointing out that most of the list of grievances (i.e. touching hair, purity test, etc) was effectively laughed out of court, based on the testimony of many witnesses to these events, including that of one of the complainant’s best friends. This comes from not just Brad, but commentary I’ve found here and there from those who should know the facts. This is a point he also brought up in his Escapist Gamergate Interview, which appeared after my article did.
This isn’t all, but you get the gist.
So as per my addendum in the original post, I’ll condemn Kotaku for what I believe was probably shitty journalism. And while I’m at it, I’ll acknowledge and apologize, particularly to Brad, for not being critical enough of that journalism. And while I still am no fan of GamerGate, I can certainly appreciate his relatively well-founded criticism of the press in his address to it as a result.
As a gesture of good faith, I offered to interview a third-party observer of what happened so that we could get a more objective view of the events that unfolded. Brad initially agreed, but our third party declined. If circumstances change, I will be happy to host that here. Beyond that, I won’t be coming back to this issue.
All told, I think that this is a big, messy story, and further investigation and discussion is probably best left in the hands of pro journalists (he’d probably add ‘non-gaming’ to that) who have the experience and access to handle sensitive situations like this one. I do think there’s still an interesting story here – one which has not yet been objectively told – and it’s one of how bad information can be frozen like amber, dredged up in google, and resurrected a million times, inescapably, in the future. But I’m not the right one to write that story.