When ABC Met the Manosphere… and Me
Most everyone in the manosphere was surprised by ABC’s sudden hit piece on us the other day, paired with a 20/20 episode that will air tonight. You’ll notice that I haven’t been commenting on it like other folks. There’s a reason for this.
I was one of the interview subjects for the 20/20 story.
Now before you say anything else, I won’t be appearing on camera. The most I ever did with ABC was a half-hour “pre-interview” over the phone. I don’t know if 20/20 will use any of my comments there, but it’s a possibility. I’m glad I didn’t agree to a TV interview, considering that the way that ABC treated me shows that not only are they a morally bankrupt and unethical institution, they’re unfathomably stupid too. I don’t mean stupid as in “blue pill/feminist stupid,” I mean stupid as in “how in God’s name did you even graduate from college” stupid.
The kind of stupid that can only exist in an entity as sclerotic and degenerate as the mainstream media.
A bunch of other folks in the ‘sphere have done yeoman’s work in exposing the lies (not fabrications, not spin, but outright lies) in the initial ABC article. Davis Aurini and Judgy Bitch pointed out that Elizabeth Vargas was overtly hostile to Paul Elam and A Voice for Men’s women staffers, and Kid Strangelove has attacked ABC’s false claims that the manosphere was responsible for the gang-attacks on feminist fraud Anita Sarkeesian last year. (Those attacks were instigated by 4chan; not only do most in the manosphere condemn that kind of violent misogyny, we didn’t [and still don't] have the power to engage in that kind of thing even if we wanted to.) Aaron Clarey also did a hilarious video shredding the authors of the article; it’s a half-hour long but absolutely worth watching.
But I’m not here to rehash what others have said; I’m here to talk about my experiences.
A few months ago, I received this email:
Name: Sarah Figalora
Email: sarah.e.figalora [at] abc [dot] com
Comment: Hi Matt,
I hope that this is the most convenient way to contact you, I couldn’t find a number or email address so hopefully you’ll get this message. I’m from ABC News 20/20 and we’re doing a story on the “Manosphere” and I would love to talk with you further about maybe helping us out. If you could send me an email (sarah.e.figalora [at] abc [dot] com) with your number or a way to contact you directly that would be great, I unfortunately don’t have a permanent direct line (I tend to shift desks a lot) but my producer, Steve, is at (***) ***-**** if you’d rather just give him a call.
Thank you, and I really hope you consider working with us!
(Also, as a side note, please answer this privately)
Time: July 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm
IP Address: ***.***.**.*
Contact Form URL: http://mattforney.com/contact/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.
Note that while I would ordinarily not post an email like this, given the way Sarah and her producer treated me, the time is past for those kinds of courtesies. However, I have redacted/spam-proofed the rest of her personal information.
When I first read this, my mind exploded with excitement and fear.
Wow, a major news organization wants to talk to me about something!
You do know that they’re going to try and make you look like a monster, right?
Against my better judgment, I replied:
I’d be happy to help you out. My number is ***-***-****; I’ll be available Tues.-Fri. of next week from 3pm-9pm EST if you want to schedule an interview.
I knew on a certain level that the likelihood of getting a favorable or even balanced hearing with these guys was low at best, but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt. I had also been contacted by a reporter from The Atlantic the day before asking for an interview, though that one ended up falling through. The fame was getting to my head.
Sarah sent me this in response:
I just spoke to the producer, Steve, would you be able to talk to us quickly in around half an hour? It won’t be anything crazy, just a sort of pre-interview. If you’re not available today, maybe some time tomorrow at around 11am?
I agreed to talk to them the next day; I was on a business trip and gave them the number of the place I was staying at.
Fast-forward to next morning. I got the call at 11am as promised. When I picked up, I was talking to both Sarah and her producer Steve, whose effeminate voice made him sound like Steve Martin in the scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles where he gets yanked off the ground by his crotch. After a few pleasantries, we launched into the meat of the interview. I’m reconstructing the conversation from memory, so there are bound to be a few mistakes, but this is what I recall.
“Do you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the manosphere?” Steve asked.
“Well, I was getting sick of my life, tired of going nowhere and didn’t really feel I had a future in my career, so I decided to make a radical change in my life,” I replied. “I’d wanted to go hitchhiking across America all my life, so I started my blog to chronicle my trip and the steps I was taking to improve my life.”
“How old are you?”
“I just turned 25.”
“Oh yeah, you’re way too young to be stuck in a dead-end job,” he sympathized.
At this point, the gloves came off.
“Anyway, you’ve written some pretty controversial stuff, Matt,” Steve accused. “I mean, ‘No Tears for Dead Sluts?’ Taxing single mothers? ‘Why Fat Girls Don’t Deserve to Be Loved?'”
I was caught off-guard. “Well, I’m just saying what I think and what a lot of people are thinking but are afraid to say.”
“Saying that you have no sympathy for this girl is pretty harsh. I mean, she killed herself!”
“I’ll admit that the article was more extreme than I liked, but my point still stands: why was a 15-year old having group sex with anyone? That kind of thing is unusual even for adults. For a teenager to be doing it suggests she had severe psychological issues and bad parenting.”
“Do you think it’s possible that she might have been raped?”
“If she’d been raped by these guys, it would have come out by now.” I was back on my game. “Like I said, it’s a sad thing that she killed herself, but I don’t think the guys should be blamed for her underlying mental issues.”
“Anyways,” Steve moved on, “this article you wrote on placing a sin tax on single mothers…”
“You called single mothers ‘the moral equivalent of crack dealers or alcoholics,'” Sarah cut in. “Do you really believe that?”
“Well, I was being hyperbolic,” I responded, “but the point is that single motherhood is a net negative on society. We tax and regulate all sorts of activities that harm society, like drinking or smoking or gambling, so why shouldn’t we tax single mothers when it’s been proven, time and time again, that single motherhood hurts society? Single mothers are poorer on average than two-parent households, their children are more likely to become criminals and/or drug addicts, and those children are more likely to have kids out of wedlock themselves.”
“What about single mothers who are that way not of their own choice?” Steve parried.
“Well, there aren’t many who are like that. The numbers show that only like ten percent of single mothers are that way because they were widowed. Most single mothers either were never married to begin with or they got divorced, and given that women initiate about 70 percent of divorces in America, that would make what, twenty, thirty percent of single mothers who are victims of unfortunate circumstances?”
“Hmmm.” Steve was thinking. “Where did you go to college?”
“Uh… the University at Albany. Why do you ask?”
“It’s just that we thought you were gonna be angry, but you’re very articulate and well-spoken, and you back up your views with a lot of statistics.”
“We’re looking for angry and passionate guys and you kinda surprised us with how well you’ve thought your views out,” Sarah interjected.
It was then that it hit me: they wanted to interview me solely because they thought I would chimp out and make an ass of myself on national television.
I should have just hung up right there, but I kept my cool.
“Well, I’ve learned over the years that if you’re a good enough writer, people will form all kinds of views of you based on their own prejudices,” I lectured. “Anyone who thinks I’m ‘angry’ or ‘bitter’ is saying more about themselves than they are about me. I’m not angry at all; I’m very cool and copacetic in real life, because you get a lot further being polite and respectful than being a jerk. If I sound angry sometimes, it’s because there are issues worth getting mad about.”
“Just so you know, we know about your past blogging at In Mala Fide,” Sarah replied.
“Out of curiosity, how do your female friends and family members feel about your writing?”
“They’re fine with it. Personally—and I’ve said this before—I stopped writing that site because I had moved on mentally. I was tired of the anger and the hate and I wanted to be more positive in my writing. I think for most guys in the manosphere, the anger is a stage because when you find out you’ve been screwed over, that you’ve been lied to your whole life, anyone’s instinct is to be angry. There’s a point though where you have to let the anger go and move on.”
“Are you saying that a lot of what you write is not meant to be seriously?” Steve cut in.
“Well, I try to be entertaining with my writing, because at the end of the day, this is entertainment. But I do believe what I’m saying, I just say it in a funny or interesting way.”
“Do you think the manosphere is a haven for sexism and misogyny?”
“There is some of that, I’d say, and that’s part of life. The manosphere isn’t a political movement, it’s a culture, like punk rock or grunge. And when punk started becoming popular, it started attracting people who weren’t interested in its core message. Same thing with the manosphere; I’m friends in real life with a number of the other bloggers and we’ve all agreed that we’re sick of the bitterness and the anger and we all wanted to move back towards focusing on masculine self-improvement.”
“Would you say that that was a result of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report on you guys?”
“Not really. This happened months after the SPLC’s report, and most everyone on the Internet ridiculed them for denouncing us anyway, even people who don’t agree with us.”
“…Hmmm.” Steve paused. “Matt, how would you feel about appearing on TV for an interview?”
“Umm,” I stammered, “I think I’ll pass.”
“Oh come on man, you’re a pussy!” Steve tried to pressure me. “What are you afraid of?”
“I’m busy at the moment, on a business trip.”
“We can make time for you, do the interview where you are.” This guy was wearing me down. “You live in Pennsylvania? New York?”
“…Iowa.” I lied.
“Fuck, that’s far,” Steve complained.
Yep, I lied to get out of an interview in which I was going to be exploited like a circus freak. I’m not proud of it and I wish I had told the guy to go piss up a rope instead, but that’s life.
“Well, I don’t see why you want to talk to me,” I came back. “I’m not that important.”
“Part of the reason we came to you, Matt, is because you’re one of the few people we’ve actually been able to get in contact with,” Sarah butted in. “No one else is answering our emails or wants to get in front of the camera, so we’re having a hard time getting the story together.”
“Can you recommend some other manosphere writers we can talk to?” Steve shot out.
“Uh, well, I personally recommend you talk to Roosh, Jack Donovan and W.F. Price. Those guys are more important than me and can give you a more nuanced perspective.”
“Oh, we think you’re important, Matt,” Sarah tried to flatter me.
“Where can we find these guys?” Steve said.
“Oh, you can just Google Jack Donovan and Roosh,” I replied. “W.F. Price blogs at The Spearhead.”
“Mmmm hmmm, okay,” Steve said. “Thanks for your time Matt, and if you want to reconsider, you can…”
“You can just email me, you have my address,” Sarah interjects.
“Okay,” I was starting to feel rattled. “Uh, thanks. I’ve got to go, so…”
“Okay, bye!” Sarah chirped.
I hung up and slammed the phone back onto the cradle. I got this email from Sarah a few minutes later, though I didn’t see it for hours (the place where I was staying didn’t have Internet or 3G access):
Thank you so much for talking with us, I really appreciate it. Have a great time on your road trip and definitely rethink sitting down with us at some point in a couple of weeks! I’m going to try and reach out to the names you gave us, ideally we could maybe sit down with all of you and discuss the Manosphere, perhaps having some serious conversations and laughs along the way. You’re definitely an ideal candidate for the story, so keep us in mind!
Thanks again, and stay safe as you journey to your destination!
Gee, you really know how to make a girl feel welcome.
By the time the interview was over, I was covered in sweat, and Sarah’s sickeningly obsequious email was the icing on the cake. I felt duped. Some of you in the peanut gallery are going to be like, “Hurr durr Matt it’s the mainstream media, what did you expect?”, but it was the brazenness of it all that floored me. I don’t know whether Sarah and her producer were so conceited as to think I’d still agree to an interview after they told me that they were planning on exploiting me or they were just too stupid to conceal their motives. Hell, it might be both. I later talked to Jack Donovan after his interview and he told me that they said the exact same thing to him.
Fortunately, by all indications, the 20/20 piece looks like it’s going to blow up in ABC’s face.
Look at the comments on the original article. Almost all of them are supporting the manosphere and attacking the authors for their mendacity and lies. The piece has been published for less than forty-eight hours and there are already multiple essays from the ‘sphere tearing it apart. When the show finally airs, there will no doubt be even more folks ripping it to shreds.
The only people who will side with ABC are feminists and manboobs (who will hate us no matter what), and maybe a couple senile old biddies in the 55 to death demographic that watches network news.
The leftists, the forces of evil, they’re losing. They know they’re losing, which is why they’re resorting to blatant lie-fests like the 20/20 special. It’s why mainstream media outlets are moving to close comments on their articles; every MSM article spouting leftist hokum is inevitably filled up with commenters calling them on their bullshit. It’s why the prestige media is attacking self-published authors, who can’t have their lives ruined by being fired from their jobs due to Twitter outrage. They can’t win on the facts, so they need to lie and shut down opposing points of view. Anything to maintain control of the narrative.
The mere fact that they’re acknowledging us is proof that they’re afraid of us, view us as a threat.
Anyone with a brain and an objective point of view can look around my blog and see for themselves what I’m about. Whether I’m the frothing, insane misogynistic monster that my enemies make me out to be. They can also see the hundreds of feminists who’ve called for my death or castration for daring to speak my mind (and the people who defended them), and they can see who’s crazy and who’s sane.
You can’t stop the truth. The ‘sphere is winning because the truth is on our side. To the silent majority, welcome aboard. -Matt Forney (October 13, 2013)
(You can read all of his posts here. http://mattforney.com/)