Last Thursday, former Microsoft spokesman and well-known blogger Robert Scoble became the latest of the many, many men in the technology industry who have been publicly accused of sexual harassment this year. Scoble’s story came to light in the aftermath of the damning allegations against powerful film producer Harvey Weinstein, and he joins the ranks of other men in tech who have recently been accused by women of groping, making unwanted advances, and leveraging their high profiles to silence victims.
Scoble resigned from his company Transformation Group LLC on Sunday, and while you might think now would be a good time for him to keep a low profile, he instead has apparently decided he’s not sitting this fight out. On Wednesday, Scoble shared a new blog post, apparently against the advice of his lawyers, that he hopes “in the spirit of healing” will help to “set the record straight.”
In the almost interminable blog post, unapologetically titled “No, of that I’m innocent,” Scoble writes that he is actually the victim here, not the women he allegedly assaulted or harassed. Among those women is journalist Quinn Norton, who first posted an article on Medium last Thursday detailing a time at a hacker conference when, she alleged, Scoble assaulted her. “And then, without any more warning, Scoble was on me. I felt one hand on my breast and his arm reaching around and grabbing my butt,” Norton wrote.
After that, many more women came forward, with story after story, of Scoble either groping them or making inappropriate advances—in some cases after he had apparently claimed to have gone sober in 2015. (In an interview in USA Today, Scoble apologized for his actions, which he said happened when he was struggling with a drinking problem.) Using his trusted sword—that is, his personal blog—Scoble is now attempting to cut through what he claims are false allegations. Only it didn’t take long for Scoble to stab himself in the process.
“If I were guilty of all the things said about me I would still not be in a position to have sexually harassed anyone,” the intrepid blogger wrote. “I don’t have employees, I don’t cut checks for investment. None of the women who came forward were ever in a position where I could make or break their careers. Sexual Harassment requires that I have such power.”
There are a few errors here, the most blatant of which is the idea that men need anything other than the ability to speak to, gesture at, or touch a woman to sexually harass her. Most of the men who yell at me about my body or my lack of a smile or what they’d like to do to me when I walk down the sidewalk probably aren’t dispensing venture capital. Yet still they manage to harass me. Scoble’s alleged groping of multiple women didn’t require any more power than the power an entitled man gives himself when he decides it’s OK to assault someone.
Scoble continues, sharing details of what he describes as a nonphysical affair (or what’s sometimes called an emotional affair) he had with a woman who is one of his accusers: “Sarah Seitz and I had an online affair. I am a married man. She knew this, and didn’t care.” Seitz, who works as an analyst at NASA, commented on Norton’s post that Scoble had approached her to have an affair a year and a half ago and that she had turned him down. In Scoble’s version, she eventually told his wife about their sexual conversations. But here’s the rub: Scoble is the one who broke the promise of physical and emotional fidelity he apparently had with his wife, not Seitz. Seitz wasn’t married to Scoble’s wife. All too often women are chastised for the affairs of men, and for Scoble to suggest that Seitz is at all at fault for his infidelity is as childish as it is a textbook case of a man deflecting responsibility for his sexual impropriety onto a woman who caught his eye.
Another woman who came forward with a story about Scoble allegedly assaulting her—this time verbally—was Sarah Kunst, founder and CEO of Proday, a fitness app. According to Scoble, Kunst misconstrued a comment he made as a racist remark. “I appreciate that being an African-American female entrepreneur is hard,” Scoble writes. “I also understand that many in the industry are skeptical or dismissive when they interact with someone who breaks two stereotypes of entrepreneurs [not being white or male].” But apparently Scoble doesn’t understand that because he allows himself two paragraphs to explain that the way Kunst felt was wrong and that he was actually the one who was slighted. If he really appreciated the difficulty of Kunst’s position, he’d humbly accept her criticism—and he certainly wouldn’t suggest that he was somehow the victim.
Scoble goes on to call what Norton seems to describe as self-defense after being sexually assaulted as an act of assault on him. (Norton’s version: “Scoble is considerably bigger than I am, and I realized quickly I wasn’t going to be able to push him away…. I got a hand free and used a palm strike to the base of his chin to knock him back.”) He then chastises her, a journalist, for not reporting her own sexual assault—as if coming forward about a well-known character anywhere near your beat isn’t career-threatening, as if she had any guarantee anyone would believe her, as if she were even emotionally ready to deal with the potential pushback of putting yourself on the line as a single victim of a moderately famous man. Often, the last thing a woman wants is to call even more attention to her sexuality. And it’s very likely that she felt empowered after the ongoing news coverage of Weinstein’s multiple, brave accusers; maybe she hoped that people would believe her, too. Who knows why Norton waited years—that was her decision. The timing of when she decides to share her story doesn’t strip it of its power.
The post is long. And Scoble’s abhorrent self-defense isn’t worth dissecting in full. But if there’s one immediate takeaway, it’s that for all the “I’m sorry” Scoble litters throughout his screed, he really doesn’t appear to be that sorry at all.