Business Insider Pulls Conservative Column About Scarlett Johansson Playing Trans Man
The piece about trans representation in Hollywood ‘did not meet’ the company’s editorial standards.
Business Insider removed a post about portrayals of trans individuals in Hollywood after staff complained internally about the column, saying the article did not meet the publication’s standards.
On Friday, conservative columnist Daniella Greenbaum published a piece titled: “Scarlett Johansson is being unfairly criticized for doing her job after being cast as a transgender man.”
In the piece, she criticized the backlash to the decision to cast Johansson as a trans man in the upcoming movie, Rub and Tug.
“The job of an actor is to represent someone else,” Greenbaum wrote. “Johansson's identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That's what she's paid for. And if she does her job, she'll make everyone forget about the controversy in the first place.”
Several Business Insider staff told The Daily Beast that some employees were offended by the column.
The publication took down the piece on Friday, and appended an editor’s note to the page on Tuesday saying that “Business Insider removed the column because, upon further review, we decided it did not meet our editorial standards.”
The decision also prompted the publication to alter its own internal editorial policies.
In an email to editors on Monday obtained by The Daily Beast, global editor-in-chief Nich Carlson announced that BI would create an internally available list of employees who had “volunteered to talk about culture and identity issues” to other staff. Further, Carlson also announced that “culturally sensitive columns, analysis, and opinion pieces” would now be reviewed by the company’s executive editors before publication.
“Editors should make sure we are not publishing shallow, ‘hot takes,’ but instead, fully thought-out arguments that reflect and respect the opposing view,” Carlson said. “There should be no partisan name-calling, e.g. ‘social justice warriors,’ ‘libtards,’ or ‘rednecks.’ Opinion and arguments should feel reported and researched, and not like quick reactions.”
“This does not mean our argument-writers should not take big swings, or that they must have opinions shared by everyone in our newsroom.”
Since Business Insider hired her earlier this year, Greenbaum has published a series of right-leaning opinions on the site that have occasionally sparked controversy. A recent column suggesting that Democrats embrace former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political views was widely criticized on Twitter by many on the left.
Through a Business Insider’s spokesperson on Tuesday, Greenbaum said she disagrees with the decision to take down Friday’s post, saying she stands by her original piece.
Disclosure: Maxwell Tani was previously a reporter at Business Insider.