Todd Bottom, organizer of the online 20/20 Gender Bias in the Media petition announced last month declared success today in an email sent out to supporters.
“As a result of your support for the recent petition regarding the programming of ABC’s 20/20, I was contacted by one of their Executive Producers and we spoke on the phone today. He informed me that the program’s producers were ‘upset’ about receiving the 1,400+ signatures and that they are interested in covering issues that other programs are not” said Bottom in an email sent out to supporters Wednesday afternoon.
The petition was started shortly after ABC’s failure to broadcast a much-anticipated edition of 20/20 featuring A Voice for Men (AVfM) founder Paul Elam on October 17th. The exact reason for ABC’s decision not to air the piece isn’t known but it is widely believed it was due to a rapid and overwhelming response to an article posted on ABC’s website a day before the show titled “Women Battle Online Anti-Woman Hate from the ‘Manosphere’”. In that article they attributed the following comment to the A Voice for Men website. Paul Elam also reports to us that Elizabeth Vargas referenced this comment as well, challenging him about its presence on the site.
“I really wouldn’t mind shooting a [expletive] dead in the face, they are evil, all of them.”
As the second most up-voted comment on the article observed:
“This comment does not actually appear anywhere in avoiceformen’s comments. Why? It was deleted. The only place it appears is in a November 28, 2010 article titled “Another Reminder on Comments” in which Paul Elam explicitly states that commentators advocating violence will be banned from his site.
It was preserved as an example of comments that will not be tolerated on the site. Go to a voice for men and do a search on “Another Reminder on Comments” dated November 28th 2010.
I would say I’m surprised that 20-20 lied through their teeth, but… meh… not really.”
In just one day the article became the second-most commented on post for the entire ABC website with over 1,500 people speaking their minds. Most were highly critical of what many called a severe lack of reporting standards and the gross inexperience of the writers. As of this writing there has been no public response to these criticisms from anyone at ABC 20/20.
Instead of the piece on AVfM, for which it is believed 20/20 spent a significant amount of time and resources on production, a story involving a murder mystery in which a middle-aged man is suspected of killing his twenty-something fiancée was aired the next day.
Angered by what he saw as a bias in 20/20’s reporting when it comes to gender, Todd Bottom, of Chicago, Illinois, decided to start a petition on Moveon.org.
The petition addressed to 20/20’s producers read:
“We are offended by 20/20’s repeatedly offensive reporting of men as violent, as aggressors, as ‘deadbeats’ and as the oppressors of women. We are boycotting the television show until they start to present the facts as they are. Men want to be with their children. We suffer most of domestic violence. There are nearly no systems to support us. We are underrepresented in research, in mental health services, in education, and in families.”
With the help of several websites and the use of social media, Bottom was successful in getting a positive response with 1424 signatures as of the writing of this article. A new goal has been set for 2000 signatures, although MoveOn.org seems at this writing to have stopped accepting signatures on the petition, making it impossible to know how many signatures it ultimately would have gotten.
“Whether this results in any changes in their programming is uncertain, but we certainly got them thinking” said the closing of Bottom’s in the email to supporters.
“They were almost certainly going to try to spin us as monsters without actually reading our site or listening to our shows or watching our videos with critical thinking skills, or have a serious conversation with any other serious-minded and well-informed people in the movement,” said AVfM Managing Editor Dean Esmay. “It remains to be seen if they’ll try to shelve the interview with Paul Elam and bring on some feminist sycophant, or actually do a real piece on the Men’s Human Rights Movement.”