Moe Tkacik Leaves City Paper After Publishing the Names of Assange’s Accusers

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Photo: Annie Hosfeld

After starting at the Washington City Paper in August, Intel contributor Moe Tkacik is leaving the publication. The paper's managing editor, Mike Madden, says the decision is unrelated to tensions over Tkacik's decision to publish the names of Julian Assange's accusers in a recent blog post and that the plan for her to change roles to a contributing writer had been in the works for a while. Tkacik says she published the names of the accusers in order to "keep their stories straight," telling the Cutline, "It just seemed like the most accurate and nontortured way of conveying their stories. Since I had been seeing [their names and faces] on Twitter feeds and all over the Internet, I didn't have a second thought about publishing them." News publications typically don't print the names of alleged sexual-assault victims. Both the New York Times and the Guardian used "Ms. A" and "Ms. W" in their stories about the police report against Assange, but both Gawker and the Sydney Morning Herald disclosed the women's names and faces. Feminists on Twitter, including Tiger Beatdown's Sady Doyle — who launched the #MooreandMe Twitter meme criticizing Michael Moore for dismissing the rape charges against Assange as "hooey" and contributing $20,000 to his bail — vociferously criticized Tkacik's decision.

In one of 37 tweets to Tkacik about her post, Doyle, who says she has received death threats (Assange's accusers have as well), tweeted, "@MoeTkacik 'OH GOD.' You're so funny & ironic & over it! Oh, except for the fact that two women MIGHT GET MURDERED. Whoops? #MooreandMe."

Madden initially took the self-published post down "for review," but it's back up now with the names redacted and a note from the editors: "City Paper does not have a formal, blanket policy on whether to name victims of alleged sexual assaults, but in this case, it was inappropriate, and editors should have been consulted before the post was published. An update responding to critics of publishing the names has also been deleted." One sentence that particularly troubled #MooreandMe was, "Here, the alleged victims would probably just satisfy themselves by starting an embarrassing Facebook group dedicated to testimonials about Assange's tiny uncircumcised penis, and maybe see if that went viral."

Yesterday, Tkacik tweeted, "Oh jesus christ. Hey, @mikemadden let's be transparent, if you or any other @wcp superiors want to delete names and/or fire me, feel free!" Madden told the Cutline that as a contributing writer, "we hope to publish more of her work soon."

Should names of Julian Assange accusers be published? [Cutline/Yahoo]
Julian Assange, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo And The Swedish Approach To Sex Crimes [Washington City Paper]