Conservative Columnist Resigns From Business Insider After It Removed Her Column Defending Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson / Getty Images
July 12, 2018

The conservative writer of a column Business Insider deleted over what it called a failure to meet its "editorial standards" has resigned, saying the publication capitulated to the "mob."

Daniella Greenbaum tweeted out the text of her letter to Business Insider editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson, who removed her article defending actress Scarlett Johansson against attacks about being cast in an upcoming film as a transgender man. The critics complained such a part should be played by a transgender person - not just someone playing the part. Greenbaum argued Johnasson was the latest target of the "social-justice mob" and "Johansson's identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen."

Business Insider posted the column on July 6 and removed it later that day. The Daily Beast reported several staff members internally complained about its content; the full article can be read here.

"Can an actor act? That is the question I wanted to weigh in on when I saw the brouhaha about Scarlett Johansson's role in the upcoming movie 'Rub and Tug,'" Greenbaum wrote to Carlson. "My judgment: Yes. A woman can play a man or a trans man ... I criticized those who suggested that she was doing anything nefarious by taking this job."

"Apparently, that radical view—that actors should be free to act—is beyond the pale of acceptable opinion, as just a few hours after it went up, the piece was erased from the site following a campaign against me."

Greenbaum went on to tell Carlson some of her other "controversial" views, such as calling Hamas the worst enemy the Palestinians have and saying people should be admitted to universities on merit, not the color of their skin.

"I wish I could say I am surprised," she wrote. "Unfortunately, what happened with my piece—the tarring of a commonsensical view as somehow bigoted or not thought out; the capitulation on the part of those who are supposed to be the adults to the mob—is a pattern happening all over the country within institutions that pride themselves on open-mindedness and liberalism."

"Please accept this letter as a formal notification that I am resigning from my position as columnist effective immediately."

Carlson sent an email to staff on Monday after deleting the column outlining new guidelines for opinion pieces on "culturally sensitive topics, such as marginalized communities, race, or LGTBQ+ issues." He said pieces would need to be reviewed by the writer's editor and either one of the site's executive editors or editors-in-chief, CNN reported.

"Ultimately, it is the first editor's responsibility to flag culturally sensitive stories," Carlson said in the email. "It may be hard to tell which are and which are not. The policy is to err on the safe side, even if it slows us down. We should be as careful about culturally sensitive pieces as we are legally sensitive pieces, and this policy reflects that."

Carlson admonished the use of "name-calling" like "social justice warrior" and "redneck," but he cautioned he wasn't telling editors they had to agree with the column's content.

"Editors are not responsible for preventing a loud and upset response to the piece from within or without the newsroom. They are responsible for making sure that if a piece causes an uproar, we are comfortable saying it's a well-argued and thoughtful opinion," he wrote.

Published under: Media , Media Bias