A group of young French media executives was condemned Monday for running a macho “boys’ club” that harassed female colleagues online.
Their closed Facebook group “League of LOL” — made up mostly of men in their thirties — ridiculed women journalists for years, sometimes using pornographic memes to attack them.
Women seen as feminist were the group’s favourite targets.
The founder of the group, journalist Vincent Glad, was suspended Monday by left-wing daily Liberation after an investigation by the newspaper’s own fact-checking unit exposed its existence.
The revelations also led to the suspension of the newspaper’s online editor Alexandre Hervaud and his opposite number at France’s trendiest music and culture magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, David Doucet.
The affair is being dubbed the “French media’s #MeToo”, with Liberation referring to the group as a “boys’ club” which bullied women online and cracked off-colour jokes about rape culture.
Victims of the group recounted how the attacks and pranks had pushed one woman to quit journalism and left another suicidal.
League of LOL targeted science presenter Florence Porcel, seeking to humiliate her by getting group members to pose as the producers of a prestigious television programme offering her a job, then posted the recording of the fake interview online.
Other women had their heads grafted onto pornographic images.
Set up in 2009, the League of LOL also had members in public relations, graphic design, and media education. It had been much less active in recent years.
The head of a porn culture website, Stephen des Aulnois, stepped down Monday and suspended his Le Tag Parfait (The Perfect Tag) blog, apologising for his part in the activities of the group that gets its name from the acronym for “laugh out loud”.
In a separate development, Le Monde newspaper said Monday that three journalists from the French edition of the Huffington Post news site, in which Le Monde has a stake, had been fired for making “unacceptable remarks in a work context”.
Le Monde’s editor-in-chief Jerome Fenoglio and publisher Louis Dreyfus said the three were fired over their posts on a closed Facebook page, without revealing the nature of the remarks or whether they were linked to the League of LOL.
– ‘I am ashamed’ –
Des Aulnois admitted the League of LOL was guilty of “repeated online harassment. I apologise to all those I hurt and harassed… I am also guilty of silence and inaction during all those years when I knew.”
Group founder Glad, who is on a freelance contract at Liberation, at first denied it was a macho crusade.
“There was never an anti-feminist obsession inside the group. We make fun of everything and everybody,” he insisted.
But in a lengthy apology on Twitter, Glad said he was “horrified to now see my tweets from 2013 when I joked about rape culture. I am ashamed.”
Glad said he “had not realised until today how macho our stance was. I didn’t see how our jokes were shutting down the first wave of feminists speaking out on social media.
“I had the stupid reaction of many men at the time — why are they annoying us with all this?” he added.
Christophe Carron, editor of the French edition of online magazine Slate, also admitted having been a member of the group.
Journalist Melanie Wanga, who said she quit Twitter for several years because of abuse, tweeted that the harassers were finally getting their comeuppance.
“Imagine being a young, black woman journalist talking about blackface and apartheid and getting this stuff (racial and sexist harassment) multiplied by 20 from your ‘colleagues’,” she said.
“You can see these harassers erasing all their dodgy tweets and talking about equality and regurgitating the work of all the feminists they attacked to buy themselves a new virginity,” she added
France’s minister for digital affairs, Mounir Mahjoubi, described the men behind League of LOL as “losers”.
“It is a group of guys high on their power at being able to make fun of other people. Except that their mockery had an effect in real life,” he said.
Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa underscored that online harassment was outlawed, and said she was considering extending the six-year cut-off for prosecuting alleged crimes.
Under the law as it stands, only law-breaking posts after 2013 could be prosecuted.
Trump fears his base will turn on him if he flips and calls for nationwide mask guidelines: CNN
On CNN Saturday, analyst Ron Brownstein outlined the key reason President Donald Trump is struggling to adapt his message to proper public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.
"Ron, there is a retail trade group that has asked President Trump to institute federal, nationwide mask guidelines at stores across the country as the country continues to re-open," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "Experts are saying that masks could save thousands of lives in the coming months. Do you see a scenario in which — any chance in which he would issue that?"
"I think the short answer is no, and for a revealing reason," said Brownstein. "He is in a trap of his own construction. On coronavirus, we talk all the time about how President Trump's base is bonded to him, immovably. He's also bonded to the base in the other direction, that he is very reluctant to get out crosswise with a base that includes the kind of people that showed up at the Michigan capital to protest lockdown without wearing masks and waving Confederate flags and carrying automatic weapons."
Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead
There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.
This article first appeared in Salon.
What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.
As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode
This article first appeared in Salon.
There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)