Unprofessional “reporting” from TIME Magazine’s Jessica K. Roy

Editorial note: When Time magazine contacted us for interviews and free passes to the First International Conference on Men’s Issues, we expected what we have always known of Time magazine: mature, professional reporting. Sure, errors, mistakes, misunderstandings, and bias are all possible, maybe even unavoidable—but mature, professional journalists and their editors know how to try to correct for that, or at least to admit to possible problems. Well, we did see mature, professional reporting from several outlets—indeed, we were impressed by many of the journalists who attended for their neutral and sometimes quite challenging but professional questions. But three reporters—Adam Serwer of MSNBC, Jessica K. Roy of Time magazine, and Monica Hesse of The Washington Post—showed a gross lack of professionalism, and a level of misreporting, well beyond what can be excused as just misunderstandings or having a bad day. These three reporters—and really, it was mostly just these three—fulfilled the worst fears of the women and men who were part of this conference: that we would be subjected to yellow journalism, hostility, and lies from the media.

If reporters sensed uneasiness, fear, and even hostility from some of the attendees, they can look to these reporters as proof of the sort of yellow journalism those of us in the men’s human rights community have learned through painful experience to expect.

These three “journalists” didn’t do their jobs at all. They wrote not reports but opinion-laced editorials disguised as reporting. Although all were forced to admit that we raised legitimate issues—which we view as a sign of progress in a deeply misandrist culture—they could neither restrain their emotional reactions to hearing their personal worldviews challenged nor do the job a reporter is supposed to do: accurately and in an unbiased-as-possible fashion report what was said and happened at an event they were supposed to be covering.

We will be profiling the misreporting of these three journalists over the next week or so. We were planning on tackling the grossly unprofessional Adam Serwer first, who was so rage-filled and irrational some attendees were actually afraid he might start throwing punches, but then psychotherapist Tom Golden got ahead of us and wrote this piece on Jessica K. Roy before we’d finished our piece on Serwer. But it appears that Serwer is friends with Jessica Roy, and they were likely collaborating on mutual hit pieces, so maybe it works out okay to start with Roy.  (To see some of Jessica K. Roy’s astonishing tweets from the conference, including collaboration with Serwer and others, click here and here.)

Golden’s article below is correct about the unprofessional misreporting of Jessica K. Roy of Time magazine, though he misses a few of the inaccurate statements she made to a national audience. For example, Roy claims we had “nearly 150” in attendance when it was actually more than 250, a much higher figure than we had expected when we started planning for what we thought would be a small first-time event. Roy also claims there were a “small number” of women when actually women made up a large number of attendees, many of them women with literally decades of experience in working on these issues; how does Roy think this compares with the average feminist event, especially the feminist events that frequently choose to deliberately exclude men? Why would she marginalize these women, many of them with decades of experience in advocating for men’s and boys’ issues? She repeats by calling the women a “small fraction,” in an obvious effort to marginalize or silence women’s voices when those women do not share the mean-spirited, petty prejudices of Jessica K. Roy.

In her second paragraph, Roy says she expected to hear that “Sure, women may have once been unequal, they say, but not anymore and not by a long shot.” This already exposes Roy’s bias walking in; most of us believe that women and men have both always had it tough, each with privileges and rights that the other sex did not have, and that merely stating that women got the short end of the stick is always problematic when you don’t acknowledge where men got the short end of the stick historically. This is something numerous presenters noted: Canadian Senator Anne Cools, our opening speaker, did a masterful job of listing the special privileges and protections women have enjoyed over the centuries, well before anyone had heard of anything called “feminism.” Did Roy miss that presentation, or just choose not to listen to it? (You can listen to it in its entirety right here). Had Roy actually talked to any of us in-depth, or paid attention to the presentations instead of busily playing with her phone, tweeting, texting, and Facebooking (which is what we witnessed her doing much of the time during presentations), she would have known that.

Like the even more egregiously unprofessional Adam Serwer, Roy repeats Erin Pizzey’s claim that we are fighting an “evil empire” without bothering to ask Pizzey, or anyone else, what she meant by that. Had she, or Serwer, or any of the other reporters done their jobs, they would have challenged that phrasing during the conference and asked for an explanation. They would have received a direct answer too: it’s about the literally billions of dollars that flow into ideological feminist organizations worldwide, including not only Women’s Studies departments in universities but frequently the many government-funded services that claim to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault but that actually offer ideological indoctrination and often marginalize and/or victim-blame males instead. Indeed, we could have named names and given specific examples of organizations—and we will, in upcoming articles. We would have also pointed out that these days this “evil empire” includes not only wealthy feminist organizations and activists but also non-ideological corrupt lawyers and judges and court officials. But neither Serwer nor Roy even thought to ask such incredibly obvious questions; they chose instead to have an emotional reaction to words they didn’t like and scoff like immature teenagers.

Roy also complains that she felt unwelcome by some of the male attendees. She doesn’t mention that she was felt unwelcome by many female attendees too, who noticed her unprofessional demeanor and her bizarre tweets during the conference—which many of us were watching, as she made them in the middle of presentations she was supposed to be paying attention to.

Tom Golden does touch upon what is probably Jessica K. Roy’s most egregiously inaccurate statement, which I’ll elaborate on here: Roy shows a slide used by Dr. Tara Palmatier that reads, “Quit objectifying me! You’re being rapey!” and calls this “a clear nod to the belief that a woman’s attire and behavior are causal factors of sexual assault.” 

In fact, let’s state it plainly: this isn’t just inaccurate. It’s hateful. Jessica K. Roy, you printed an outright lie to readers you had a duty to give the facts to. To a national audience. You owe your readers, and Dr. Palmatier, a retraction and an apology. So do your editors. Anyone who gives a damn about truthful reporting can go right to this presentation and watch: Dr. Palmatier was clearly talking about narcissism as a growing problem, and the double-standards in how we view the sexuality of men and women. She was showing a typical Tumblr-feminist-type meme and selfie. And in reality, Dr. Palmatier has made it clear repeatedly that she hates the shallow word “rapey,” which has been invented by, and is used frequently by, Tumblr and Twitter feminists. The word is stupid and loathsomeand it is of feminist origin.

And by the way, did Jessica K. Roy ask Dr. Palmatier about that slide, or any of the other slides she used? No. We already asked: Jessica K. Roy did not ask Dr. Palmatier any questions–about this or anything else. Neither did her friend Adam Serwer. Do you spot a pattern here?

Finally, Roy mentions “large-scale rage campaigns full of name-calling, threats and crusades to get them fired,” supposedly by men’s rights activists. Actually, Ms. Roy, in our experience, it is feminists who spend the most time threatening people and trying to get them fired; I myself get death threats and threat-oids routinely (I collect them now and keep them in a special folder). And I know more than one men’s rights activist who’s been hunted down, doxxed, harassed, and gotten fired by feminist activists. I repeat: more than one. Did you think to ask about that either? No, we don’t think you did. But, please, let us know if we’ve got you wrong.

Yet we suspect that Jessica K. Roy and her followers will somehow, in some way, claim that even our writing about her misreporting is “threatening” and “harassment.” It’s what we in the men’s human rights community call “Damsel in Distress” syndrome; it’s not how mature, professional adults act, but let’s see if it’s how Roy responds to being called out for lying to her readers.

For the record, Jessica K. Roy will not be welcome at any future events hosted by A Voice for Men, and if she appears, she will be asked to leave. That will stand as a lifelong ban unless and until we get a retraction and an apology for her lack of professionalism and her betrayal of the editors and readers of Time.

Anyway, beyond all that, here’s Tom Golden’s very reasonable analysis of Jessica K. Roy of Time magazine’s recent misadventure in shoddy journalism.—DE

 

Time-Screen-Shot-2014-07-05-at-1.46.11-PM-1024x708

“Crass ideological opponents”
“Paranoia and vitriol”
“Violent Internet histories”
“A palpable distaste for women”
These men laugh at rape jokes.
Describing a Saturday Night Live sketch as if it attacked our beliefswhen it addressed none of our beliefs at all
Mentioning mass murderer Elliot Rodger

These are things Jessica Roy used in describing the International Conference on Men’s Issues and its readers and editors in her Time magazine article.

She went as far as describing a point during the conference when she got the vapors and had to leave the building! Interesting that she doesn’t tell us what content gave her this vaporous experience, nor does she tell us when and if she returned.

Here’s the way her article starts:

I went to the conference in suburban Detroit expecting a group of feminist-hating Internet trolls; I found much more.

It is clear that Roy had very strong preconceived ideas about this conference prior to even setting foot in the venue. In other words, she was prejudiced. In her mind, she seems to have thought that these were her enemies, these were violent and vitriolic opponents who said things so vile that she had to leave the building. It’s little wonder that her article is desperately biased as she clings to her outdated, half-the-story ideological-feminist indoctrination.

Roy peppered the article with examples of how men are indeed in need of services at times but implied that the “paranoid” and “vitriolic” leadership was not doing a good job of getting them the help they need. Presumably, from her perspective, the conference also failed in that regard.

At some points during the article Roy related content from the conference and then immediately offered a refutation. In most good reporting, I have seen the reporter report what transpired and then, when it is an important point, seek out other expert opinions as a counterpoint to help the reader see both sides. In Roy’s case, most of the time she simply saw herself as the expert and worked to refute the claims of the conference speakers. This shows us clearly that this was personal to her; she wanted to refute what was being said. There was “her side” and then the side she was writing about. Her stance as a journalist was biased and far from neutral.

A very strong indicator of her defensiveness and brittle worldview:

Still, being surrounded by men who belly-laughed at rape jokes and pinned evil elements of human nature wholesale on women was emotionally taxing at best and self-destructive at worst. Once, during a particularly upsetting segment of the program, I had to excuse myself from the auditorium to seek refuge on the bug-filled bank of Lake St. Clair. I kept wondering why I had volunteered to fly 600 miles to attend the conference alone, to surround myself not just with crass ideological opponents, but with people with violent Internet histories who believed my very existence oppressed them. But to emerge on the other side of this with both my sanity and a worthwhile story, I would have to actually adopt a grain of their advice. I would have to stop feeling like a victim, and in turn cast aside all of the humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences I had collected as a woman.

Of course “belly-laughs at rape jokes” were hardly the norm for anyone there, and all evil elements of human nature were not pinned wholesale on women; women were just held to be as culpable as men by most of the presenters. And men must not experience humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences as men just because they couldn’t immediately rattle them off for her when prompted.

As an example of the distorted lens Roy sees things through, when Dr. Tara Palmatier showed a slide in a presentation on clinical narcissism, rather than trying to understand or to expand on what Dr. Palmatier was saying about it, Roy decided instead to try to disprove the assertions of Dr. Palmatier without discussion, by claiming it was about how attire causes rape. This is the work not of a journalist but of an ideologue trying to promote their own view of the world. Give them an alternative viewpoint and they go bonkers.

The question does arise: Why would Time magazine send a reporter who was so biased and closed-minded to cover this conference? Maybe like sending an “earth is the center of the universe” proponent to cover a Copernicus news conference. What would you expect from that? Then again, maybe Time doesn’t hire unbiased reporters anymore?

Time magazine is not the only culprit here. The Washington Post also sent a reporter who had strong biases and training that focused more on women’s issues and had left out men and boys. The article she wrote is not unlike Roy’s. It’s biased. Both were obviously steeped in the wrong-headed, half-truth feminist dogma that has been the default of the media for many years. If only either could have listened carefully to the presentations they might have seen the damage their thinking and writing has been doing. Compare either of these articles with this USA Today story on the conference. Note the contrast and that it lacks the bitter hatefulness seen in the other two.

My wife, who attended the conference and is sympathetic to the views expressed at the conference but who could not be described as an “activist,” read the Time magazine article and said, “It’s hard to believe that she related in the article the way she did. It is just bizarre … her perceptions of the situation, it’s way off base.”

I must wholeheartedly agree, having been there myself.

Now it’s your turn. All of the presentations at the conference are now online and linked below and free for viewing. Have a look and decide for yourself whether you agree with my wife or with Jessica Roy. I am betting strongly on my wife.

DAY ONE

DAY TWO

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