Word Gets Around


Alyssa Rosenberg over at Slate.

New York Magazine.

This cool North Mississippi blog.

The website of Smirnoff’s they mention is a total mess. The salient details, as far as I see them, are that Smirnoff is incredibly mean to his girlfriend under the guise of defending her, he threatens to name the intern and bad-mouth her to her school unless he’s granted access to her in order to try to discredit her claims against him, and he “outs” a woman he’s come to dislike. It’s not clear if she’s actually gay or bisexual. The purpose of “outting” her (and I put the word in quotes just because it’s clearly not about what her actual sexuality is, but about making her life difficult) is, I think, to show us that she’s of bad moral character. I suppose any negative repercussions that might come about from people thinking she’s gay or bi are just icing on his bullshit cake.

In other words, he continues his approach of saying things that make him look like he absolutely does the things people accuse him of and then acting like that vindicates him.



10 thoughts on “Word Gets Around

  1. B, I don’t think Smirnoff is outing anyone. As I reconstruct what he’s saying, it’s that (1) he caught a male staff member and female intern being intimately touchy, (2) he told off the staffer, who blamed it on being drunk and who (3) then attempted to mislead Smirnoff about what had been going on by telling Fitzgerald (Smirnoff’s girlfriend and the staffer’s friend) that he thought the intern was gay, but (4) weeks or months later, it was revealed that the staffer and the intern had in fact been carrying on an affair the whole time. This is all presented as proof of the staffer’s dishonesty, and why he shouldn’t be believed when he accuses Fitzgerald of sexual harassment. What it proves to me, of course, is that what with one thing and another the OA must have been an absolutely toxic place to work.

  2. How gross is it that they have a “donate” button up? And are requesting computers and housing and jobs?

    and his e-mail address is godisinthedetails@… What a nutjob.

  3. Nm, I think it’s a little more fucked up than that. As I read it, Fitzgerald said she caught the staffer and the intern being touchy, and when she confronted the staffer about it, he supposedly told her the intern was gay. Fitzgerald reported all this back to Smirnoff who then confronted the staffer, who then blamed what Fitzgerald saw on being drunk. Later, the staffer and the intern stopped bothering to deny having an affair, which I don’t believe is the same thing as confirming that they were having an affair. The whole situation in that office seems so deeply fucked that it’s easy for me to believe that their ceasing to deny it just meant that they were tired of talking about it.

    So–as I read it–Smirnoff was reprimanding people based not on behavior he witnessed but on reports from the woman he acknowledges was also romantically interested in the staffer. OH, do you think this could be the grounds for the sexual harassment claim? “When she believed I was interested in someone else, she had her boyfriend reprimand me at work.” That seems a lot more clear cut than the New Orleans incident–though of course the New Orleans incident proves that Fitzgerald had romantic feelings for the staffer. (In which case, the staffer’s claim that the intern was gay could be read as the staffer attempting to protect the intern from retaliation. “Even if I, full time staffer, messed up, you don’t need to punish her. She’s not even interested in me.”)

    All that aside, I still think it was shitty of Smirnoff to say anything more than that the staffer denied the affair. Why the affair was not plausible isn’t really important, I don’t think, unless you’re explicitly trying to connect the intern’s name to “gay.” After all, in real life, gay women have affairs with straight men. It’s not incredibly common, but it happens. So her being gay as a matter of fact up for proving or disproving doesn’t really say anything about whether she’d have an affair with the staffer.

    To me, that just read as a way to dig at her.

    Professor, just so ooky.

  4. oh, one more thing:

    I imagine I wasn’t the only one reading this passage

    “If you know of any small, interesting place that would welcome and encourage Marc, Carol Ann, and a few other creative individuals for a literary venture, please let us know.”

    while chanting “please not Nashville! please not Nashville!”

  5. Oh, Beth, I should have been. I was too busy wondering if he’s chained up “a few other creative individuals” in his home that he was brainwashing to take his side.

  6. nm, I think Smirnoff understood that there are places where the mere insinuation that you might be gay can be dangerous, and he brought that person’s sexuality into it on purpose. What relevance did that specific detail otherwise have, except to take the opportunity to be an asshole to someone else, and to get the supposed bonus that if she were to speak out to defend anyone Smirnoff’s criticizing, that she may be impugned as possibly gay (in many places and families and friend groups where that would be a real problem and possibly unsafe), and at least a slut. Smirnoff could have easily chosen to leave her unnamed, or to convey that the male staffer seemed to have lied about the encounter without explaining those details.

  7. Rachel, fair point – plus I’d imagine that MS’s “gay” remark was probably more in the posturing of “she didn’t want me so she must be gay!!”

  8. Well, I don’t think Smirnoff understands that other people even really exist, so it feels odd to be defending him. But I think that in the context of his rant* he’s presenting the suggestion that the intern may be gay as one of the staffer’s blatant lies. And it’s hard for me to view that as an outing, or even as an “outing.” And the relevance was to construct a narrative in which the staffer was a persistent liar, especially with reference to his relationship with the intern (the staffer also, allegedly, while still hiding the relationship, recommended her so highly that she was hired as a permanent staff member), and to suggest that any sexual improprieties/harassment/ickiness in the office were the doing of the staffer and had nothing to do with Smirnoff. I agree that in transmission, the information “A said that B lied and told A that C was gay” could turn into “A says that C is gay.” And he should have thought about that, I suppose.

    And, BTW, this guy has been a brilliant editor. He should have been ashamed to put out a piece so confusing and badly reasoned.

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