[Update: Since publishing this post, I have spoken to Julia Allison who asked that I clarify she did not at any time speak to a Gawker journalist or editor. She spoke to a friend who is affiliated with the site and who passed on her claims to reporting staff without being authorized to do so. I am very happy to make that clarification.]
I have now written and rewritten this post a dozen times. At one point it spanned nearly 1500 words. But, actually, I barely need half that many.
Here’s the nut: A few days ago, Gawker posted its latest story about former TechCrunch editor (disclosure: and current NSFWCORP investor) Michael Arrington. Specifically, they published allegations that Michael assaulted an ex-girlfriend back in 2009. I won’t name the girlfriend here because she’s asked me not to; instead I’ll call her ‘Z’. (The original version of this post called her ‘A’ but that turned out to be too confusing. To be clear ‘Z’ is not Jenn Allen)
The allegations came in the form of text messages sent to Gawker by Julia Allison, a friend (or maybe now former friend) of ‘Z’. Most of us who know Julia have heard her make these allegations before, although the details frequently change: sometimes the incident happened in a house, other times a hotel room, other times a moving car. Unfortunately, this time, Julia decided to mention my name, implying that I was aware of the incident and so implicit in a cover-up.
I don’t want to speculate too much on Julia’s motives here. Maybe she thinks she’s doing right by an old friend. Maybe she thinks it’s a good idea to insert herself into this story at a time when the rest of us wish we could do the opposite. Maybe she isn’t thinking at all.
Whatever the case, now that my name has appeared on Gawker in connection with this whole sorry business, I want to say a few words on the record to clear up any misapprehension or misinformation.
I was trying very very hard not to get involved with the recent “Bonfire of the Arrington” saga, not least because, until this past Friday, I hadn’t spoken to Michael in a year, since he was fired from PandoDaily. To say that I was angry with Michael for how he behaved as an investor, board member and friend, is the mother of understatements. When I read Jason Calacanis’ Facebook post about Mike the Bully, I found myself nodding along through much of it. By contrast, when I read Heather Harde’s spirited defense of her former business partner, in which she described Michael as “an example for the field of gender studies”, I nearly shot Diet Coke out through my nose. And when I watched Loren Feldman’s video in which he says he believes Mike is capable of at least one of the crimes he’s accused of, I understood why Loren believes that: Mike has treated a lot of people, particularly former friends, very badly indeed. So badly that you could believe him capable of almost anything.
But just because Mike can be a bully doesn’t mean he’s guilty of assaulting women, or worse.
Here’s the truth: I do have some inside knowledge of the incident to which Julia is referring. I have this knowledge because, unlike Julia, I actually saw ’Z’ that day. And, unlike Julia, I’ve since spoken to both Michael and ‘Z’, and compared their stories with those of independent witnesses to ensure I actually have all the facts.
Earlier drafts of this post included a full and unseemly account of the events of that day. But, the more I think about it the more I realise that the details of a private relationship between two private people are… well.. private.
So, and with the full blessing of everyone involved, I’ll just say this. On the day in question — the day on which Michael and ’Z’ broke up — there was a heated argument. It wasn’t in a hotel room or a moving car and it wasn’t even on the last day/night of TC50 as Gawker claims (I think the only detail Julia/Gawker did get right was the year). The argument began at the TechCrunch office and it ended at Michael’s home. The TechCrunch portion of the argument was witnessed by several people; the home part by at least one.
After the argument, and the break-up, ’Z’ was extremely upset — to the point where she said things about Mike that she now says are not true and she wishes could take back. I have no doubt she said similar, if not worse, things to her (then) best friend Julia. But, and this is the important thing: had any of us present that day witnessed anything like the behavior that Mike is currently being accused of, or believed it to have taken place at any other time, we would have immediately called the police, and never spoken to Mike again. Again: Julia Allison was not there that day. I was.
Speaking to me on Monday, ‘Z’ is absolutely adamant — and she is happy for me to repeat this here — that no assault or physical abuse took place and that she is not a victim of anything. (I asked her for permission to quote her verbatim but she insists that she doesn’t want to speak on the record about her private life. That’s entirely her choice.)
So, while I’m sure the rest of this sorry mess will continue to drag on, maybe even into a courtroom, let’s at least put this one claim firmly to rest.
Michael may have acted badly towards a lot of people, and I’m certain a lot of those people are glad to see him taking a fall. Maybe in my darkest moments, I’m one of them. But, whatever your feelings towards Michael, it’s important not to say things that aren’t true.