Entertainment

Host of ‘Reply All’ Podcast Steps Down After Accusations of Poisonous Tradition

P.J. Vogt, a number of the favored podcast “Reply All,” took a depart of absence on Wednesday after complaints from former colleagues that he and a senior reporter contributed to a poisonous work atmosphere and rallied in opposition to union efforts to diversify employees.

Mr. Vogt and the senior reporter, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, every apologized on Wednesday in statements on Twitter. Ms. Pinnamaneni additionally stepped again from her work on the podcast, in accordance with an e mail late Wednesday to the employees of Gimlet Media, which produces “Reply All,” from the corporate’s managing director.

The accusations got here after the podcast launched its second episode in a sequence about accounts of discrimination on the meals journal Bon Appétit’s fashionable video sequence. Since George Floyd’s killing by the hands of Minneapolis cops final yr, newsrooms and media organizations round the USA, together with The New York Occasions, have confronted renewed criticism about addressing inequalities inside their ranks.

Eric Eddings, a former Gimlet worker who co-hosted the podcast “The Nod,” tweeted on Tuesday that “Reply All,” and particularly Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni, had contributed “to a close to an identical poisonous dynamic at Gimlet” because the one they described of their sequence about Bon Appétit.

“To me, it felt disingenuous to border this story in that means, as if that they had not participated in one thing related,” Mr. Eddings mentioned in an interview on Thursday.

Mr. Vogt, 35, said on Twitter that he had “deeply failed as an ally” when workers unionized and that he apologized to everybody whom he had dissatisfied. “I ought to have mirrored on what it meant to not be on the identical aspect of a motion largely led by younger producers of shade at my firm,” he mentioned. “I used to be a child and a jerk about it in myriad methods.”

He mentioned he had requested permission to step away from the present and was taking time “to suppose and to pay attention.”

In her apology, Ms. Pinnamaneni mentioned her conduct around diversity and union organization efforts was “ill-informed, ignorant and hurtful.” She mentioned on Twitter, “I didn’t pay sufficient consideration to the folks of shade at Gimlet and I ought to have used my energy to assist and elevate them additional.”

Mr. Vogt and one other host, Alex Goldman, began the podcast in 2014, adapting it from their earlier WNYC radio present, “TLDR” (too lengthy; didn’t learn). In recent times, “Reply All” episodes have taken listeners inside cellphone rip-off rings in India, to a maximum-security jail in Illinois, and on a journey to trace down a guitar tune {that a} director listened to on the radio as a young person.

A spokesman for Spotify, which acquired Gimlet Media in February 2019, mentioned “Reply All” would proceed to launch episodes. Gimlet Media, Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Through the workers’ marketing campaign to unionize in late 2018 and early 2019, Mr. Eddings mentioned, Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni labored “aggressively” in opposition to efforts to diversify Gimlet’s employees. He mentioned that when Mr. Vogt realized in regards to the efforts to unionize — which many individuals of shade on the firm noticed as a technique to create an atmosphere the place they might succeed — Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni tried to rally assist in opposition to them.

Mr. Vogt despatched disparaging textual content messages to a member on the organizing committee, “ripping them to shreds,” Mr. Eddings mentioned, to the purpose that the particular person was crying.

At one level, Mr. Eddings mentioned he met with Mr. Vogt and requested him to cease denigrating him and others. Mr. Vogt was not receptive to complaints that workers of shade felt they didn’t have alternatives to advance, Mr. Eddings mentioned.

In one other occasion, he mentioned, when he tried to deliver up issues about inequality about Gimlet, a member of the senior administration workforce advised Mr. Eddings that she was reluctant to debate the problems with him as a result of he at all times appeared “so offended.”

Mr. Eddings remembers considering, “I’m upset as a result of this place could possibly be higher.”

A number of former colleagues spoke out on Twitter in assist of Mr. Eddings, workers of shade and different minority teams on the firm.

Brittany Luse, a former Gimlet worker who co-hosted “The Nod” with Mr. Eddings, mentioned she understood others’ questions in regards to the union, and what it could imply for them, however that Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni’s staunch opposition was stunning and painful.

“There have been so many days the place I simply awoke crying,” mentioned Ms. Luse, who left Gimlet early final yr. “I used to be simply seeing what so lots of my colleagues had been going by way of in trying to speak one thing that I felt was so easy — to individuals who outwardly like to appear in favor of a extra equitable office, however privately had been simply behaving in a totally completely different means. It was exhausting.”

The scenario grew to become more and more poisonous as negotiations continued and Mr. Vogt and Ms. Pinnamaneni pressured workers to not be a part of, mentioned Ms. Luse, who was the primary Black worker of Gimlet when she joined the corporate in 2015. She mentioned it felt as if they needed to protect the corporate’s established order — which workers of shade had been saying, for years, had lacked variety and truthful pay. The union was acknowledged by administration in April 2019.

Lydia Polgreen, the managing director of Gimlet, advised employees in an e mail on Wednesday that Mr. Vogt can be stepping down.

“From the second I arrived at Gimlet, it was clear that our tradition wanted work, and that there have been massive issues that wanted to vary to make this a greater, extra equitable place,” Ms. Polgreen mentioned, including that the collective bargaining course of had been “by its nature confrontational.”

“At Gimlet, we make artistic work in collaborative groups,” she mentioned. “That work is actually rewarding and likewise exhausting. It includes trustworthy and generally troublesome conversations. However these conversations should occur with respect.”

Reggie Ugwu contributed reporting.

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