- A former Gimlet Media employee accused “Reply All” podcast hosts of creating a “toxic” environment.
- The allegation came in response to a “Reply All” miniseries about the work environment at Bon Appétit.
- “Reply All” co-host PJ Vogt says he is stepping away from the podcast.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Reply All,” one of Spotify’s top podcasts that covers internet culture and technology, was celebrated for its new miniseries investigating allegations of a toxic environment at Bon Appétit.
Then came a viral Twitter thread alleging that there was “a near identical toxic dynamic” at Gimlet Media, which produces “Reply All.”
Eric Eddings, a former Gimlet podcast host who now hosts “The Nod” on Quibi, said in his Tuesday thread that staffers of color at the company “felt they had no pathway to promotion.” He said he personally experienced anti-union bullying as employees at the company were organizing, naming “Reply All” co-host PJ Vogt and reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, who hosts “The Test Kitchen,” the miniseries about Bon Appétit.
In the wake of the allegations, Vogt has announced he’s stepping away from co-hosting the podcast, and Pinnamaneni issued an apology.
A former Gimplet employee says a unionization effort sparked conflicts involving Vogt and Pinnamaneni
In his thread, Eddings accused Vogt, Pinnamaneni, and “Reply All” co-host Alex Goldman of running an anti-union campaign in which Vogt would “denigrate” members of the organizing committee leading the charge to unionize Gimlet. Eddings said that Vogt once told him Pinnamaneni wanted him to know she thought he was a “piece of s—.”
Staffers of color at the podcasting company “felt that it was their last chance at creating an environment within Gimlet where they could succeed,” Eddings said.
—Eric Eddings (@eeddings) February 16, 2021
Eddings said that when he told Vogt, who is white, about the experiences of people of color at the company “who felt they had been discriminated against,” the host “wasn’t moved.”
Brittany Luse, a former Gimlet staffer who co-hosts “The Nod” with Eddings, said it was “impossible to explain just how dark that time was” in a tweet Tuesday. “Their pushback thickened the air,” she said.
Vogt and Pinnamaneni did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
“The BA staffers’ stories deserve to be told, but to me it’s damaging to have that reporting and storytelling come from two people who have actively and AGGRESSIVELY worked against multiple efforts to diversify Gimlet’s staff & content,” Eddings said. Eddings did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Insider.
In the end, the organizers’ efforts were successful, and the company unionized before Spotify’s acquisition in February 2019, Vulture reported.
Vogt and Pinnamaneni issued apologies after the accusations surfaced
Vogt apologized in a statement shared on Twitter Wednesday and said he was stepping away from the podcast. “I deeply failed as an ally during the unionization era at Gimlet. I did not intend to stop the unionization effort, and I am very glad it succeeded,” the statement said. “But at the time, I was a baby and a jerk about it in myriad ways. Reflecting on my behavior, I find it humiliating.”
—PJ Vogt (@PJVogt) February 18, 2021
The statement continued, “I should have reflected on what it meant to not be on the same side of a movement largely led by young producers of color at my company. I did not. Those mistakes belong to me.”
Pinnamaneni also apologized in a tweet Wednesday. “My conduct around the diversity and union organization efforts at Gilmet was ill-informed, ignorant, and hurtful. I did not pay enough attention to the people of color with less power at Gimlet and I should have used my power to support and elevate them further,” she said. “For this I feel great regret. I apologize to everyone I have let down.”
—Sruthi Pinnamaneni (@sruthiri) February 18, 2021
An internal email from Gimlet managing editor Lydia Polgreen sent to staff Wednesday, obtained and reprinted by Vulture, also announced that Pinnamaneni would step down from her role hosting “The Test Kitchen” immediately.
Gimlet and Spotify did not immediately respond to inquiries from Insider.
The news comes as other media companies, including The New York Times, have faced similar controversies in the months after the killing of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and reckonings around issues pertaining to race in corporate America.
In one episode of “The Test Kitchen,” a four-part miniseries focused on the food magazine’s reckoning, Pinnamaneni even referenced how ubiquitous racial disparities in the media are. “The reason I find Bon Appétit worth talking about is not because it’s unusual, but because I think so much of what went wrong there is fairly typical,” she said.
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