Critics Hit With ‘Woman Card’ After USA Today Argues Against Crowdfunding for Capitol Riot Defendants
Instead of judging the criticisms of the USA Today piece on their merits, other female journalists trotted out the ‘woman card.’
Reporters at USA Today landed themselves in hot water earlier this week after writing a piece that seemed to argue against crowdfunding sites allowing Capitol riot defendants to raise money to pay for their defense attorneys.
The ensuing uproar over the piece, which pitted independent writers like Glenn Greenwald against bitter former CNN anchors like Soledad O’Brien, turned into a case study on how journalists are more frequently playing the victim card to insulate themselves from legitimate criticism.
USA Today‘s Brenna Smith, Jessica Guynn, Will Carless let readers know right out of the gate where their story was headed in the opening paragraphs of their Sunday feature piece:
Defendants accused in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 crowdfund their legal fees online, using popular payment processors and an expanding network of fundraising platforms, despite a crackdown by tech companies.
The Capitol riot extremists and others are engaging these companies in a game of cat-and-mouse as they spring from one fundraising tool to another, utilizing new sites, usernames and accounts.
The authors bragged later in the piece on how they were able to get the fundraising accounts of at least two alleged Capitol rioters suspended:
Another website hosting crowdfunding for defendants in the Capitol riot, Our Freedom Funding, featured two fundraisers for members of the Proud Boys, Joe Biggs and Dominic Pezzola. Both face federal charges in relation to the attack Jan. 6.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Biggs fundraiser was listed as having received $52,201. Pezzola had received $730. Biggs’ campaign disappeared from the site shortly after USA TODAY inquired about it.
Friday, a USA TODAY reporter donated to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Stripe. Stripe told USA TODAY it does not comment on individual users.
A USA TODAY reporter was able to make a $1 donation to Pezzola’s fundraiser using Venmo, a payment app owned by PayPal. After being alerted by USA TODAY, Venmo removed the account.
Soon a PayPal account took its place. PayPal caught that and removed it, too.
Brenna Smith was proud of the work she and her colleagues had done to make it harder for defendants to pay for their lawyers and wrote about it on Twitter:
My *first* story with USA Today: Defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot continue to crowdfund their legal fees online using popular payment processors despite a growing crackdown from tech companies. https://t.co/KpegKiOmzL
— Brenna T. Smith (@brenna__smith) March 28, 2021
The piece incensed Greenwald, an outspoken critic of Big Tech censorship and journalistic bullying, because it argued that people accused of crimes should not be allowed an online platform to receive donations to help pay for their legal expenses. He took to the Twitter machine and called out Smith, who was listed as the first author on the article page – which is kind of a big deal for journalists:
Congratulations on using your new journalistic platform to try to pressure tech companies to terminate the ability of impoverished criminal defendants to raise money for their legal defense from online donations. You're well on your way upward in this industry for sure: https://t.co/pvpmX3DaaW
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 28, 2021
Greenwald’s criticism brought more eyes to the story, and along with it, more criticism of the reporters involved in the story. Predictably, Smith’s coworkers at USA Today rushed to her defense, boiling her contributions down to being that of a lowly intern who didn’t deserve the pushback:
Our intern just published her first story with us and this is the vitriol she’s been met with. Just insane. Here’s the piece — it’s great and so is Brenna https://t.co/wTvnLxlrWi pic.twitter.com/tW28WcatJp
— Brett Murphy (@BrettMmurphy) March 28, 2021
And then, sadly, instead of judging Greenwald’s criticisms on their merits and arguing for or against them, other female journalists trotted out the tiresome ‘woman card.’ That’s supposed to be what passes for substantive debate in the world of journalism these days (I should note that Smith’s timeline is filled with RTs of the numerous media figures who played the woman card in her defense):
Shout out to Glenn for his attack on the female intern publishing her first story. Ignore him, Brenna. The rest of us have realized that he is a nasty misogynistic troll and undeserving of a moment of your time. Congrats on your first story. https://t.co/7S4gNNKusP
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) March 29, 2021
gl*nn gr**nwald and j*ck posobi*c are directing insane harassment to a literal INTERN (!!!) at USA Today
what kind of grown adult speaks this way to random young women doing their job.. it’s sickening. love this cute industry where harassment is supposedly par for the course. pic.twitter.com/aVsPosKmJ3
— Rachel E. Greenspan (@rach_greenspan) March 29, 2021
So sick of this.
— Jane Lytvynenko (@JaneLytv) March 29, 2021
Yes, Ms. Lytvynenko, many people are really “sick” – sick of female journalists playing the victim card as a way to bypass legitimate criticisms of the articles they write:
So what if she's an intern and a woman? Does that mean she is above criticism? Is she some kind of infant or is it that you choose to infantilize her b/c you're a woke lefty? https://t.co/DD7iDHk5fh
— Sweet Karolina (@SweetRuakh) March 29, 2021
Are women just as capable as men or do they need special treatment? https://t.co/euqdqqS2HS
— Rev. Dr. John Hawkwood DMD (@JohnHawkwood62) March 29, 2021
Treat a woman like a grown adult & feminists will call you a misogynist. Modern feminism is simply the perpetual infantalization of women. Always handle them w/ kiddy gloves. Pretend that every minuscule accomplishment is some world changing triumph for the perpetual victim. https://t.co/euoMb8sHvD
— PeterPumpkinTweeter (@sigmunddreud) March 30, 2021
@brenna__smith is not a toddler. She can handle criticism and the constitutional/democratic implications & consequences of the story. If not, she can leave the profession. She's FIRST on the byline. This isn't macaroni art in kindergarten. https://t.co/N6B49LwvCV
— Doctor Sarcastic Cupcake (@SarcasticCupcak) March 29, 2021
Smith’s Twitter bio notes that she’s an intern at USA Today but will soon be writing for the New York Times. She should fit right in with other Times female tech reporters like Taylor Lorenz. They are also infamous for hiding behind the woman card when criticized, as we learned just recently after Tucker Carlson had the nerve to do so on his program a few weeks ago.
Let’s also get this out of the way, too. Can you imagine the reactions from these same people if Fox News wrote a piece arguing against alleged Black Lives Matter rioters, using GoFundMe and other websites to help them get the money together to pay for their legal defense? The racism card would be played for days on end. We’d get endless lectures on how the accused have rights, too.
But the accused in the Capitol riots cases are allegedly Trump supporters. Therefore we get a cheerleading section full of so-called “journalists” who applaud a piece that essentially argues it’s wrong for the defendants to be able to afford an attorney.
While that was the most disturbing aspect of the USA Today story, not far behind it was the woman-card playing.
Here’s the bottom line: Women in journalism are either strong and capable with the ability to tough it out and achieve success in a so-called “man’s world,” or they are fragile dolls in need of constant coddling and reassuring. It’s time to pick one and stick with it.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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