The mystery of why an online publishing and newsletter platform like Substack would attract negative attention from progressive media groups continues to intrigue many who are observing this particular segment of the publishing and tech industries.
Is it because Substack is independent, or because it allows a plurality of voices, political or ideological, to publish there without fear of overreaching censorship that’s now almost unavoidable on similar corporate platforms?
Or is Substack truly doing something wrong?
The success it has enjoyed with writers, bloggers and freelancers would suggest otherwise; it’s a place where they are not only able to have their voices heard, but can also monetize their work through subscriptions, or even, as is the case with some well-known names, get paid by Substack to move their business there.
And it’s now an ideologically speaking colorful mixture of writers and commentators from the left and the right, like Jonah Goldberg and Erick Erickson on one, and Judd Legum and Luke O’Neil on the other side.
Then there are “refugees” from conformist progressive sites, who found it difficult to continue in their previous jobs, like Matt Yglesias, Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald.
But journalist Ryan Broderick, formerly of BuzzFeed, from which he was sacked due to accusations of plagiarism, came after Substack, depicting it as not an independent publishing platform but a place for an “emboldened online subculture” to group – something that will eventually have to be “community moderated.”
Broderick put people like Jesse Singal, Bari Weiss, and Scott Siskind in the same bag as this perceived emerging “subculture” that will have to be curbed with moderation, notwithstanding the fact that some of these writers clearly have and express “irreconcilable differences” amongst themselves, and simply happen to share a platform.
What this supposed group, that Broderick refers to as “Substackerati,” allegedly shares is rampant and harmful transphobia, causing “death and suffering.”
But upon closer inspection, the most controversial quote to back up these big words coming from Jude Ellison Sady Doyle, who rage-quit Substack for this reason, was Jesse Singal “portraying trans children as confused,” the Spectator writes, as it advises ignoring these attacks on Substack as meritless.