Mike Boudet, the creator and former host of the award-winning true crime podcast Sword and Scale, has announced that he’ll be returning to host the show once again from July 4. Boudet stopped hosting the show earlier this year after a brigading online mob pressured the podcast network Wondery to drop Sword and Scale and left the show’s future uncertain.
However, having his own platform and multiple sources of funding for the podcast has allowed Boudet to withstand the pressure from this online outrage mob, keep Sword and Scale going while it was under attack, and ultimately return to doing what he loves.
Boudet started hosting Sword and Scale in January 2014 and continued as host until February 2019. Then in March 2019, the show was targeted by a brigading online mob after some people took offense to a joke Boudet had reposted on Sword and Scale’s Instagram account. This led to Sword and Scale being dropped by Wondery and initially seemed to have resulted in the free version of the show being canceled, with Boudet saying on March 9, 2019 that Sword and Scale PLUS, a premium version of the podcast that is exclusively for people who support the show through the fan-funding platform Patreon, would remain but the free version of the show would be going away.
Boudet also said that other shows from Sword and Scale’s parent company Incongruity, including Sword and Scale Rewind, This is War, and Monstruo, would be ending.
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However, on March 18, 2019, Sword and Scale announced that the free version of the show, along with Sword and Scale Rewind, This is War, and Monstruo, would all be continuing with their current schedules. The announcement also said that Boudet had decided to take a break from the hosting the free version of the show and that Tricia Griffith, a veteran broadcaster and owner of the true crime forum Websleuths, would be the new host of Sword and Scale while Boudet focused on the content for paid supporters on Patreon.
On March 23, 2019, the first Griffith-hosted episode of Sword and Scale was released and she started the episode by suggesting that the support of people on Patreon was what allowed the free version of the show to continue in the wake of it being targeted by an online outrage mob. In the intro to this episode, she said:
“And thank you to all of you who have supported the show with your continuing donations. If it weren’t for you, an entire staff would have lost their jobs and an incredible show would have ended completely. As of yet, however, that has not happened and you will continue to get Sword and Scale ad-supported and hosted by me, right here on your free feed. You know guys, sometimes a joke is just a joke. There’s no need to destroy a man’s business. You can just scroll on by and mind your own business sometimes. In any case, the entire Incongruity staff appreciates you and is immensely thankful for your continued support.”
The show continued to be released on a regular bi-weekly schedule with Griffith as host. Then after Griffith had hosted six episodes, Incronguity put out a press release saying that many fans had been getting in touch expressing their desire for Boudet to return as host of Sword and Scale and that he would be doing just that on July 4, 2019. This means Griffith will presumably host her final episode on June 23, 2019 and then pass the reigns over to Boudet.
When Boudet returns to the show, Sword and Scale will also be re-releasing versions of the seven episodes hosted by Griffith with Boudet narrating.
Boudet announced his return by saying:
“I’m excited to be back on Sword and Scale. It’s what I love to do, and what I know how to do best. Although, I don’t think I’ll be back on social media anytime soon.”
Boudet’s return and his ability to keep the free version of Sword and Scale going while it was being targeted is a testament to the importance of creators owning their content, having their own platform, and using multiple sources of funding in an era where online outrage mobs are becoming more powerful than ever.
This year, we’ve already seen:
- Republican software engineer Mike Wacker get fired after speaking out about outrage mobs
- Comedian Steven Crowder have his entire YouTube channel demonetized after being targeted by an online outrage mob, even though he didn’t break any of YouTube’s rules
- An online outrage mob calling for PewDiePie to be banned
- Google shut down its AI ethics council after an online outrage mob called for certain members to be removed from the board
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey being targeted by an online outrage mob for appearing on the Ben Greenfield podcast
Some of these incidents involving online outrage mobs have far-reaching impacts that go way beyond the person being targeted and their audience. For example, YouTube introduced new “hate speech” rules after Crowder was targeted and these new rules have resulted in mass demonetization across YouTube.
Because of this far-reaching collateral damage, creators that rely on third-party platforms for hosting and monetizing their content are often wiped out almost instantly when an online outrage mob targets them or the third-party service they rely on.
Unlike most creators, Boudet was able to withstand the pressure and stand up to the brigading mob that targeted him. By creating podcasts, which are built on open, decentralized standards, and having his own website, Boudet was able to maintain full ownership of his content, keep his audience after being dropped by his podcast network, and directly communicate with his listeners while he was under attack from an online outrage mob. Monetizing through a mixture of podcast sponsors and donations also ensured that Boudet could keep Sword and Scale funded, even after a brigading mob successfully convinced some advertisers to stop supporting the show.
Ultimately, Boudet’s story serves as an inspiration to all creators and provides a model of how to successfully create content and build a platform that’s sustainable and resilient to these increasingly prevalent online outrage mobs.