SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A group of 29 local journalists, all women, called out a Bay Area media blogger for being a misogynist in an open letter published Friday on Medium.
The letter, titled “We Are Better Than This,” calls out 415 Media Blog’s Rich Lieberman, who’s been commenting on media figures in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007. In the letter, the journalists say that they’ve been told to look the other way as Lieberman wrote “ disturbing and sexist things about us and our colleagues” for nearly two decades.
“Lieberman uses his blog to degrade women who have worked hard to earn their positions — and creates imaginary and stereotypical cat fights between us, repugnantly pitting one female news personality against another,” the letter says.
A recently-retracted Mercury News story that used Lieberman as its sole source inspired the letter, according to its authors. The story claimed that Kimberly Guilfoyle, an advisor to President Donald Trump, had abruptly backed out of a scheduled appearance at local Fox affiliate KTVU over complaints from employees. The newspaper retracted the story after Guilfoyle and KTVU news director Amber Eikel denied it.
The authors of the open letter say the newspaper shouldn’t even consider Lieberman a credible source.
“While The Mercury News has issued a correction for their inaccurate report, for a reputable paper to ever legitimize Lieberman in that way by using him as a source, is to dismiss the fact that what he writes about is often misogynistic, dramatized, and, frankly, perverted,” the letter states.
Friday afternoon, San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted her support of the journalists, saying “I know, trust, and respect many of the women who signed this letter. It takes a lot of courage to speak your truth.”
I know, trust, and respect many of the women who signed this letter. It takes a lot of courage to speak your truth.https://t.co/42vZKZ6jbs
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) September 5, 2020
Lieberman provides some news in his daily blogs, like his annual breakdown of the top paid media figures in the Bay Area, but he often uses his blog to harshly criticize local television and radio news personalities. For example, in a recent post titled “Bam Bam Bam,” Lieberman refers to KGO Radio host John Batchelor as “an educated Trump butt boy.”
Yet when it comes to women in Bay Area media, Lieberman frequently sexualizes them. In one post he discusses the “boob power” of KRON’s Darya Folsom, and in another he spends an entire blog commenting on the legs of KTVU anchor Heather Holmes under the headline “Boner of the Day.” (Lieberman denies writing the headline.)
The letter also points out that Lieberman’s readers contribute to the sexualization, commenting things like “I have seen nicer legs on a table” and “HORSE FACE.”
“To those who say we chose to be on television and put ourselves out in the public eye, that is true. We can handle criticism relating to our work. However, we cannot, and will not, allow predatory comments to be normalized or magnified,” the letter stated.
Lieberman, who also hosts a radio show on KSCO, denies that he is misogynistic in his posts. He posted in a blog titled “I’m not a Misogynist” a link to a recent interview with SFGate where Lieberman denies the charges in the letter.
“I think I’ve been very definitive and forthright about women in TV news. It’s a visual medium. We react to it. It’s not just women. Women watch men on TV,” Lieberman told SFGate.
Still, the authors of the letter about Lieberman say they’re not taking his criticism quietly anymore.
“We have been subjects of Lieberman’s harmful rumors and trolling for far too long,” the letter states. “Even those of us who haven’t been directly targeted, see Lieberman for who he is: A self styled media blogger who attempts to make a living off of demeaning female journalists. It’s time that all Bay Area journalists and readers know it as well.”
Read the full letter here.