Issue 262,  published June 16, 2020

Meanwhile, in Chicago…

I don’t have a firm grip on what’s going on here, but keep an eye on this development: there appears to be a growing wave of troubling accusations against Cards Against Humanity, the Chicago media company, primarily facilitated over social media under the #CAHisOver hashtag. The wave seems to stem from this June 6 Twitter thread by a former employee, Theresa Stewart, who accused the company — and in particular, one of its co-founders, Max Temkin — of creating a toxic workplace culture that has especially affected people of color in the past. The Twitter thread was followed up two days later by a Medium post from the feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who regarded Stewart’s narrative as consistent with stories from a whisper network that supported the view of Cards Against Humanity as a toxic workplace. Sarkeesian ended the post by calling for business partners and collaborators to break ties with the company. Posts under the #CAHisOver hashtag went on to swell over the past week or so, but curiously enough, there hasn’t appeared to be any media coverage of this development since the hashtag flared up. Neither Temkin nor the company have responded publicly to the accusations.

I’m flagging this story because Cards Against Humanity is somewhat relevant to podcasting. Aside from being a unique media company — among other things, its recent activities involve acquiring Clickhole from Gizmodo Media Group — it also operates the Chicago Podcast Cooperative, the city-specific collective whose most famous alumnus is Hello From the Magic Tavern. The company’s offices additionally serves as a physical hub of sorts for the city’s podcast community.

Here’s how one Chicago-based podcaster described the relationship between CAH and the city’s podcast community to me: “I would not describe the Chicago podcast scene as terribly cohesive, but when it comes to comedy and pop culture shows in particular, many roads lead back to Max Temkin and Cards Against Humanity… CAH has its own well-established shows; they’ve opened their recording studio for independent shows to use; and of course there’s the Chicago Podcast Cooperative.” The source cited another example of Cards Against Humanity’s influence in Chicago podcasting: the fact that Transistor, the hosting company, was co-founded by a CAH alumnus.

Again, a troubling development. We’ll continue to track this story.