If you’re an editor of a publication, the most important job you have is protecting and advocating for your people. That’s the alpha and omega, the most important thing, the cherished principle of the guild.
Which brings me to the case of People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director, Jess Cagle.
That’s him sympathetically nodding as he interviews former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff about the time Donald Trump allegedly groped her while his pregnant wife Melania was in the other room.
Stoynoff, recall, published a piece in People about the experience:
When we took a break for the then-very-pregnant Melania to go upstairs and change wardrobe for more photos, Donald wanted to show me around the mansion. There was one “tremendous” room in particular, he said, that I just had to see… We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat. Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
Cagel wrote a statement to accompany the story, saying the magazine was “grateful” she’d come forward.
Ms. Stoynoff is a remarkable, ethical, honest and patriotic woman, and she has shared her story of being physically attacked by Donald Trump in 2005 because she felt it was her duty to make the public aware. To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again. We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened. It is heartbreaking that her fear of retaliation by Trump kept her from reporting the incident when it happened. She has carried this secret for more than a decade, and we hope that by coming forward now she is relieved of that burden.
The story, most certainly, was People‘s biggest of the election. Cagle was honored later in the month with a “Visionary Award” by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in which he gave a speech about his experience growing up gay in Texas and the “painful reminders” of bigotry he encountered. No doubt he was given many a shoulder clap at the reception about his bravery in running Stoynoff’s story and standing up for the magazine’s reporter to Donald Trump.
And here is the new cover of People magazine.
Inside, you’d find a bunch of ass-kissing and “pandering,” if you were to pick this magazine up off the newsstand, which I sincerely hope you won’t.
This is venal. Venal! Shameful. Unconscionable.
How could you sit across from Stoynoff, feeling her pain, and then put her alleged abuser on the cover of your magazine?
Sure, I know it’s People. It’s not the voice of the opposition. And these are hard jobs and most people don’t understand the stresses that come with them. But you took the Stoynoff traffic. You posed from the moral high grounds. You accepted the congratulations on your bravery.
And then you sold out the magazine’s reporter—and the rest of the staff, too.
There are lines you cannot cross. If the powers that be want you to run something like this, Jess Cagle: fight or resign. That’s it.
In your first moral test of the new administration, you got an F.