An Open Letter
UPDATE Sept. 22, 10:09pm. A previous update stated John Cheese has resigned — this is not yet known. Update clarifies the language used by Cheese and Brushwood, from “resigned” to “stepped down.”
As of this writing, Cracked has removed John Cheese’s byline from all of his pieces and he has stepped down as Editor-in-Chief at Modern Rogue. It’s not yet clear if he has resigned entirely. Also not clear if Cracked plans to remove his pieces entirely (which I am in favor of) or just his name. I am profoundly grateful to everyone at Cracked and beyond who supported the women who came forward and helped bring this to light. The fight continues.
UPDATE Sept. 24, 6:50pm. Brian Brushwood of Modern Rogue confirmed that John Cheese is no longer with Modern Rogue in any capacity. Additionally, Jason Pargin of Cracked has initiated the process of removing all of John Cheese’s pieces in their entirety from the site, but some still appear because the server is processing the cache. I’ve included a full rundown of events (including this letter) here and will be providing updates to that piece, not this one, as they unfold.
Yesterday, I went public about how John Cheese (Mack) from Cracked and now Modern Rogue sexually harassed me in 2014.
He responded with an “apology” that omitted my name, details about what prompted his apology, and that I wasn’t the only one. His fans were quick to praise him for coming forward — until I set the record straight for them.
Prior to his half-assed apology, I felt relief for finally having said what’s been hanging over me for almost 5 years. When I read his “apology,” which was really just damage control, that quickly turned to rage. When other women — 5 with claims similar to or worse than mine, one verifying that he’s just generally a creep online — came forward, that rage turned to a sense of obligation.
And when Brian Brushwood, the co-creator of Modern Rogue, started responding to people who reached out asking him to do something, when he responded with things like:
“What will I tell his family?”
“He doesn’t supervise women here”
“What am I supposed to do about it?”
I became apoplectic.
The “play dumb until it all blows over” technique isn’t going to work anymore.
It quickly became clear that Brushwood has no interest in removing Mack from a position of authority — a position he can use to prey on young women who admire his success, who hope him noticing them could be their big break, the same as Mack’s done since before his days with Cracked.
See, it’s not just about being the boss or supervising women. It’s about the fact that Editor in Chief, even if for a magician’s clickbait website, carries with it some weight. And even as just a columnist/editor at Cracked or writer at PWOT, John Cheese was more than happy to throw what little weight he had around to intimidate women, some of whom who were afraid of professional repercussions if they shot him down. This is the behavior of a predator who also has a history of:
- Grooming and emotionally manipulating a teen
- Preying on 18–19 year old “fans” for “at least a decade”
- Being emotionally abusive to past partners
- Toting his column/portfolio as proof of his professional dominance to young writers
- Unprompted, sexually explicit, emotionally abusive messages to both random women as well as multiple women he worked with.
And it’s not something that just stops.
So, here we are. We’ve got Brushwood’s clear message that he’s not going to do anything because there’s no monetary risked involved in supporting an abuser. And we’ve got John Cheese who, despite these truths coming to light, will continue being able to put his time at Cracked on his resume, wielding authority and exerting it to prey on women.
I’m calling on Cracked and Demand Media/Scripps to remove John Cheese’s column and bylines from the site. His entire presence should be scrubbed from the site. The views and clicks he garnered, he did so while preying on women. Those two things are inextricably linked. Multiple women went to HR to report John Cheese for sexual harassment. Their response? Move him from columnist/managing editor to… just managing editor. Zero repercussions for the abuser, a damning message to those he abused.
Until Cracked removes John Cheese/Mack from the site and the forum and any Cracked-affiliated platforms, I am calling for a writer’s boycott: Do not contribute to a site that shielded and enabled a predator until that site can make amends by removing his presence from it entirely.
Since Modern Rogue has no interest (as of yet) in cutting ties with a serial predator and abuser, I’m calling on John Cheese to actually experience the repercussions of his actions and resign from The Modern Rogue as well as any/all of its affiliated channels, sites, and social media, effective immediately. Remove yourself from public life. Get a job where you have power over no one.
Lastly, I’m calling on those reading this to amplify these requests.
Let it be made clear: A man who abuses power is a man who loses power.
Oh, and just in case anyone wants to attack me and smear my character for this, go right ahead. I’ve long been the world’s absolute worst messenger and I have no qualms about you telling everyone what we all already know. Any voice — even an imperfect one — is better than silence.