The Jason Sanford and Baen Books Saga Continues


Screenshot from twitter

I know after writing about THIS and THIS, I said I was washing my hands of it all HERE, but people still keep bringing it up, especially on this commentary.

Stuff produced by folks such as Matthew Hopkins and questions asked by retired journalist Richard Paolinelli HERE and HERE led me to see if Sanford’s twitter account might be back up (I didn’t expect it to be), but indeed it is.

In fact, he’s tweeting to a group of people, including me, as I write this (patience Jason, I can only keyboard so fast).

Cutting to the chase, Sanford says he has added links to his screenshots of the Baen forum of the offending remarks he quoted. You can get to the report at Patreon. I haven’t yet clicked on all the links, but I did say I’d make this available to anyone who wants to look.

Oh, also Sanford says, for the record, that he has never submitted anything to Baen. There have been allegations that he submitted a book to Baen, it was rejected, and that the rejection was his motivation for allegedly using the Baen forums content against the publisher.

In the end, this probably won’t satisfy anyone, but I’d love to have all of the questions answered impartially (not like that’s ever going to happen), because I don’t know what to think. Of course, everyone is going to say they are right and the people/groups they oppose are wrong, so (sorry to say this) I can’t take anyone at face value, especially people I don’t know.

screenshotOn the other hand, reputations are on the line, with Baen editor Toni Weisskopf’s and Baen’s on the one side and Jason Sanford’s on the other. I feel like I’m one of the few people who isn’t screaming either for Weisskopf’s blood or Sanford’s.

With Discon III “uninviting” Toni Weisskopf to WorldCon 2021 as Guest of Honor, this may well be sending ripples much further than misconduct and poor to non-existent moderating on Baen’s forums.

Having done a little digging, my understanding of WorldCon is that it’s a somewhat closed community, with members gaining status through length of service. Since Weisskopf is perceived to have status, it’s likely that many of the older members just want her to more closely moderate her forums.

That said, newer insiders and those not on the inside but who fancy themselves as activists, aren’t necessarily pleased that Weisskopf is “politics agnostic” in who she publishes at Baen, and many are saying that this is the sin for which she’s being punished.

Add to that the population of marginalized voices who are “uncomfortable” with “far-right language” existing at WorldCon, and you can see a rationale for Weisskopf and Baen to be pushed out of the WorldCon limelight, with the Baen forum fiasco being used as the catalyst.

Given the past several years of denouncements, including a number of name changes of various prestigious awards (Jeannette Ng and her statement of condemnation of the Campbell award as she was receiving it the other year comes to mind) and you can see why at least authors and creators somewhere on right side of moderate might get a little nervous.

Some are way beyond nervous and, feeling attacked, are responding in kind.

I say all this (again) to express that, on the one hand, we should not tolerate hate speech and certainly nothing that could foment actual violence, especially on a city-wide scale. And on the other hand, we have seen, on many occasions, that anyone even slightly to the right of center (such as folks like me) are perceived as if we are all far-right extremists and thus anyone with the label of “conservative” is treated as a single, homogeneous unit (can you imagine anyone saying that liberals, African-Americans, or gays are “all alike?”) to be shunned, deplatformed, and “uninvited.”

Like I said, I don’t expect my latest blog post to do much good, but now that I’ve involved myself in the conversation, I thought I should say something about it.

I suspect the “he said, she said” allegations are going to continue. Then again, this is just one expression of a discontent that’s been going on in SF/F for years (the Sad Puppies of 5 or 6 years ago are no doubt being invoked by some as an example).

I guess that means this isn’t the last time we’ll have this dialogue.

I’ve provided screenshots for reference above. To the best of my ability to capture them, the twitter threads are:

I’m posting all this in an attempt to provide at least some data so people can examine it and come to their own conclusions. Right now, I’m still waiting for a few of my own.

9 thoughts on “The Jason Sanford and Baen Books Saga Continues

  1. I’ll just toss this end and then call it quits:

    Why did the Ohio News Media Association website go down an hour after I e-mailed them my questions regarding Sanford’s journalism experience and when it came back up his bio had been changed – deleting that he was a science fiction author and replacing it with he was a newspaper journalist and editor before joining the ONMA?

    Why was this dead in the dead of night, in the very early hours of Sunday morning when no one should have been at work?

    Why did he block me when I asked him if he had submitted anything to Baen instead of simply issuing his denial then?

    Why did he wait nearly a full day before denying he’d subbed to Baen?

    His denial is vague/ He says he never submitted a book to Baen. Has he submitted a short story or other article to Baen? Has he subbed anything to Baen under a pen name and not his own name? Has he ever applied for a job at Baen?

    If he does in fact have work experience at a newspaper, why didn’t he know to contact Baen and ask for some type of comment on the allegations he was about to levy at Baen? This is Journalism 101. You always contact the subject of a story and give them a chance to either respond or refuse comment.

    What led him, if he isn’t the Baen type to begin with, to investigate the politics area of the forum in the first place?

    Was he tipped off? Was he looking for some damaging information to use, as he did, against Baen and Weiskopf in order to (a) get her removed as the Editor GoH at DisCon III; (b) get Baen’s forum permanently taken down; (c) get Baen’s website taken down, as was done to Parler, and cripple, if not permanently damage the company; or (d) all of the above?

    Did he work with anyone on gathering the posts?

    Does he know the identity of the newly signed up user on the forum that posted some of the objectionable material shortly before he used it in his story?

    If his motivations are a pure as the wind driven snow, will he refuse any Hugo nominations this year and next, including for Best Related Work in connection to this article of his?

    Given he is a relatively unknown writer, how does he explain how rapidly his article was used to attack Weiskopf and Baen with the con runners at DisCon III AND the web providers of Baen’s website?


  2. [NOTE: I sent an earlier version of this post, still in moderation, where I got IPSO’s name wrong. If it’s not too much trouble, could you delete that one, please? Thanks.]

    I notice that one of the accusations directed at Jason Sanford is that, by failing to contact the people mentioned in his post, he made a grave violatoon of journalistic ethics.
    Here’s the thing, though. I’ve never before heard that a journalist is morally obliged to contact every single person they write about. I did some research and found this post by the Complaints Officer of the Independent Press Standards Organisation:

    “If the article is reporting on factual information that is already in the public domain, such as a recent court case or comments made publicly on social media, not contacting someone before the article is published is highly unlikely to be a breach of our rules.”

    Now, granted, IPSO is a British organisation and Mr. Sanford is Americsn; perhaps standards are different between countries. But if so, I’d like to see proof that American journalists are held to this rule — even when writing on their personal blogs, as Sanford did with his Baen piece.


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