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Controversial book blogger Ed Champion suspended from Twitter after threatening female author
Ed Champion’s 11,000-word rant against Emily Gould—the Great Literary Subtweet War of 2014—was just the beginning.
Ed Champion is a writer and host of the author-interview podcast Bat Segundo, where he interviews influential literary authors and critics such as Terry Teachout and Jesmyn Ward. He’s also the longtime partner of Sarah Weinman, Publishers Marketplace news editor and book-industry insider.
But outside New York’s literary circles, Champion is perhaps better known for a manifesto he wrote in June: an 11,000-word rant against current publishing culture—and one author in particular, Emily Gould. Champion’s opus was unabashedly critical of Gould, Tumblr employee Rachel Fershleiser, and other female authors, whom he dubbed “Middling Millennials.” He described this group as bland white 20-somethings who congregate on Tumblr, where according to Champion they “confuse the act of literary engagement with coquettish pom-pom flogging.”
The article was excoriated on Twitter for its sexism and shortsightedness. Many women shared similar stories of intimidation and harassment at Champion’s hands. Champion was mocked for having the gall to criticize published authors when he, in fact, had published nothing. Champion then threatened to take his own life, writing, “No money, no job, no gigs, no agent (a MS out with three). Not good enough. So I’m going to throw myself off a bridge now. No joke. Goodbye.”
Many of Champion’s critics took a step back after this, offering assistance and guidance. (The Awl’s Choire Sicha attempted to talk him down in person.) One such supporter was Porochista Khakpour, a critically acclaimed author whom Champion had previously interviewed twice on his podcast.
Somewhere along the line, however, Champion evidently changed his mind about supporting Khakpour. Thursday night, Champion unleashed a string of invective and harassment against her, followed by a threat to reveal the name of the man who had allegedly taken nude photos of Khakpour.
Champion is now suspended from Twitter.
The “apology” Champion felt he was owed, in this case, was for what he felt were various unspecified lies he claimed Khakpour had told about him. Champion went on what seemed to be an unprovoked tirade about Khakpour in a series of escalating tweets:
Let’s talk about how I went out of my way to give @pkhakpour a reason to live. Phone calls, emails. Now she smears me with lies.
I busted my ass and went out of my way to put THE LAST ILLUSION in the hands of many. And now she smears me with fabricated conjecture.
I urged her to live. I cracked jokes. I told her she had talent. And now she fucks me over with prevariations. I feel so used, betrayed
Let’s be public about the way that Porochista Khakpoour is an awful narcissist who squeezes everything she can from you and then dumps you.
I will never support @pkhakpour in any way again. She is a venal solipsist who hopes to drown any surrounding party into her insipid drama.
She fucked over Alexander Chee, Tayari Jones. She sponges and sponges and makes you think that you are the perpetrator.
Fuck Porochista Khakpour. I busted my ass to push her books, and she invents conspiracy theories in lieu of seeking therapy.
If @pkhakpour does not apologize to me before 11:00 PM, I will reveal the name of the man who photographed her. The choices is hers.
Five minutes. Who is the man who photographed @pkhakpour in the nude? I’m not afraid, and I won’t be intimidated.
The publishing industry has done nothing for me. Give me one good goddam reason not to divulge the details.
The publishing industry had done ZERO for me. Fuck you. Fuck all of you. Here it is.
According to Khakpour, Champion’s outburst happened because she had deleted a comment Champion made on Facebook in which he allegedly insulted another male author.
Khakpour noted that she had previously defended Champion, who claimed to be suicidal when he made the rant directed at Gould and other writers earlier in the year.
As for Champion’s longtime partner, Weinman, she tweeted what many saw as a cryptic and minimizing response to the incident:
Weinman is a lead editor for Publishers Marketplace, one of the most influential trade publications in the industry—and many people feel her influence allowed Champion to evade severe consequences for his previous behavior towards women.
just as information I’ve heard from several women who are horrified by Ed but afraid to say anything publicly because of @sarahw
— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) September 26, 2014
But the tide appears to have turned. Horrified readers on Twitter have been urging members of the literary establishment to repudiate Champion once and for all.
(but publishing is dying anyway so let’s call sexist, horrible shit sexist, horrible shit when we see it, team)
— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) September 26, 2014
While Weinman hasn’t directly commented publicly on the incident, a late-night Facebook update from Champion suggests the couple may have recently separated, possibly as a result of the incident. Champion blamed his suspension on Khakpour and Gould, accusing them of “going well out of their way to ruin my life.”
Photo via BrandyZadrozny/Twitter
Though his Twitter account has been suspended, Champion’s brand-new Ello account lives on, including this advice to himself from last night, shortly before he undertook his extortion attempt:
Screengrab via Ello
Foresight is 20-20.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Weinman works for Publishers Weekly. She works for Publishers Marketplace.
Photo via @edwardchampion/Twitter
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.