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.

 

Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Published Sep 26, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 12:39 pm CDT

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. 

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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.” 

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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.

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Champion is now suspended from Twitter.

oh god please if anyone knows any lawyers, anything.i can’t do this. my life is very hard. i am very poor & work very hard.i can’t take this

— Porochista Khakpour (@PKhakpour) September 26, 2014

via Blockbot

Joined the long list of people harassed, insulted, fucked w/ by EdChampion. No idea what to do. Defended, befriended, etc him.And now this.

— Porochista Khakpour (@PKhakpour) September 26, 2014

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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.

At that point, Champion reportedly tweeted, then deleted, the name of the photographer who had taken nude photos of Khakpour.

I don’t need femins because it is 2014 and twitter is a place where you can see men like @drmabuse blackmail women in real time

— WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) September 26, 2014

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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.

He is angry because he wrote a nasty comment about Dan Kois on my Facebook page & I deleted it. He proceeded to insult & harass me all week.

— Porochista Khakpour (@PKhakpour) September 26, 2014

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.

During his episode w/ @EmilyGould & others,was horrified by his essay & words but when he said he was suicidal I begged for folks to go easy

— Porochista Khakpour (@PKhakpour) September 26, 2014

I apologize to @EmilyGould and @readandbreathe and @RachelFersh and anyone else who felt betrayed by my silence & sympathy that day.

— Porochista Khakpour (@PKhakpour) September 26, 2014

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As for Champion’s longtime partner, Weinman, she tweeted what many saw as a cryptic and minimizing response to the incident:

I loathe Internet drama so much. I really do.

— Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) September 26, 2014

.@djolder Ed Champion is harrassing female authors on the internet again, and his gf who works for Pub Lunch is brushing it off as ‘drama’.

— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) September 26, 2014

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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

It is my firm belief that a major reason people have been afraid to speak out is because of where she works. @mallelis @sarahw

— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) September 26, 2014

@elongreen we tried this after the Emily Gould bs. People were terrified to talk on the record. Publications did not want to get involved

— Jessa Crispin (@thebookslut) 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.

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(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

I have to say I seriously question anyone who associates w/Ed Champion after his horrific, violent ‘essay’ on @EmilyGould in June.

— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) September 26, 2014

But now he is blackmailing a woman in real-time on Twitter, right in front of everybody, so at this point idk what your excuse could be.

— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) September 26, 2014

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Like honestly publishing is such a small world that I get people are afraid to make waves but this guy is legitimately scary.

— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) September 26, 2014

.@merritttierce I love your novel dearly and know you don’t want to be associated with violent misogynist scum like @drmabuse

— Vincent Scarpa (@vincentscarpa) September 26, 2014

Publishers: please don’t book authors on his show. Authors: please don’t agree to be interviewed by him.

— Michele Filgate (@readandbreathe) September 26, 2014

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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:

Screenshot of one-line Ello post from Champion, reading: "Repeat to self: Take the high road. Take the high road."

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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

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*First Published: Sep 26, 2014, 1:57 pm CDT