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Insider September 9, 2022 — An old-fashioned flip-flop

Podcast Movement has gone from apologizing for Ben Shapiro to apologizing to Ben Shapiro

I feel like we don’t hear the term “flip-flopper” enough anymore, or maybe I am just nostalgic for the 14-year-old me who stayed up to watch The Daily Show every night and thought that The Day After Tomorrow would get people to care about climate change.

Anyway, we have a real flip-flop from Podcast Movement on the whole Ben Shapiro debacle. Plus, we’ll soon have audiobooks on Spotify.

Podcast Movement makes peace with The Daily Wire and a whole bunch of new enemies

That is quite the turnaround. Podcast Movement has apologized to Ben Shapiro for deeming his presence at the conference “unacceptable,” in turn alienating a whole bunch of other people in the podcast community who agreed with the original sentiment. In trying to make everyone happy, I am not sure that the organization has made anybody happy.

“As we stated, we’re continuing to evaluate our policies guiding social media & events with inclusivity, diversity & respect for all,” the organization tweeted Thursday. “We have to start by sincerely apologizing to Mr. Shapiro for our reaction when he visited a booth we sold his company. That wasn’t right.”

Linking the DEI issue with an apology to Shapiro strikes an odd note, but it reflects the fact that PM is trying to appease two camps with irreconcilable notions of what “inclusion” means. In its now-deleted original apology in which PM took “full responsibility for the harm done by [Shapiro’s] presence,” it was responding to critics who were shocked the organization would give space to and take money from Ben Shapiro and TDW, which has been accused of giving a platform to transphobia and racism. Right-wing media had a field day, egged on by Shapiro, accusing the conference of intolerance of conservatives. As a result, radio giant Cumulus, which handles ad sales for many of The Daily Wire’s podcasts and has deals with a slew of other conservative shows, said it was cutting ties with Podcast Movement.

PM president Dan Franks spoke privately with TDW co-founder and co-CEO Jeremy Boreing yesterday before the new apology was issued. Boreing seems relatively satisfied, but it is unclear whether TDW will have a presence at the conference moving forward and what the ramifications of a sustained relationship between PM and TDW would be.

“The subject of Daily Wire participating in future events with Podcast Movement didn’t come up on our call, but we expect to continue to participate in the podcast community commensurate with our size and influence in the industry,” TDW spokesperson Alyssa Cordova told Hot Pod.

Whether or not next year’s conference will feature a booth from TDW or Cumulus, the apology did not go over super well on Twitter. Lore creator Aaron Mahnke called PM “a bunch of spineless mealymouthed fuckwaggles.” Nightlight creator Tonia Ransom, who spoke at this year’s conference, vowed to not return. Stuff You Missed in History Class co-host Holly Frey tweeted: “Podcast Movement out here really making sure I never attend again.”

Franks, meanwhile, says the organization is still working out what “inclusion” will look like moving forward. “We are taking the necessary time to evaluate, develop, and implement new policies and procedures for future events,” he told Hot Pod. “We hope they will show our commitment to those efforts through our actions as we begin to roll them out.”

I’ll be curious to see what those policies look like and who will (and will not) be in attendance next year.

Audiobooks are coming to Spotify “soon,” says CFO Paul Vogel

Speaking at an Evercore conference on Wednesday, Spotify CFO Paul Vogel said the streamer is close to starting testing of its audiobook vertical. “It’s going to come out reasonably soon, but I would say don’t expect that to be the last change or improvement we make on the audiobooks offering,” he said, according to TechCrunch.

Spotify will use Findaway, the audiobook creation and distribution company it acquired this year, as the base for the new product. The first iteration may not look radically different from other audiobook platforms, but Spotify could develop it in interesting and potentially disruptive ways. In June, executives at the company’s Investor Day event said that it would comply with the “freemium” model Spotify is known for and potentially be monetized with ads. That would be a huge change for the publishing industry, which is used to the credit model used by Audible and audiobooks.com or just outright selling audiobooks.

Well, it’s been a week! Have a great weekend. I’ll see you Tuesday.