A Message From Brian Brushwood

Hi. I’m Brian Brushwood, founder of The Modern Rogue. This weekend, I found out that I have a lot to learn about running a website.

Three years ago, I launched a YouTube channel with my friend Jason Murphy called The Modern Rogue. Our quest was to become the ultimate “gentleman, warrior, and scoundrel,” but the show quickly became about our shared desire to improve ourselves and learn more about the world.

Out of that came this web site, celebrating history’s greatest rogues and doing our best to arm you with the stories that could make you the most interesting person in the room.

On Friday, I found out that our editor-in-chief John Cheese had a problematic history, including harassing some of his fellow writers at Cracked. You can read Talia Jane’s detailing of events here. It’s her story, so I think it’s important you read it in her own words.

Because I’m a magician and not a publisher, I naturally did the least-responsible thing and instantly engaged in a debate about moral responsibility in the abstract on Twitter. That wasn’t smart of me and I responded to a delicate situation in haste, which led to some poorly-worded responses. In effect, I was making the world’s worst PR response for TMR—to the abject horror of the rest of our team. That was 100% dumb on my end and I’m 100% sorry.

Instead, we should have digested the full story and thought through how incompatible what we were reading was with our goals for The Modern Rogue. We’re about trying to become a better person and we’re a platform that prides itself on being inclusive as we welcome new writers and readers.

As anyone who has watched our show probably already knows, we’re pretty far from perfect.

Today we were able to have an emergency meeting and talk through our core values. The Modern Rogue has always been about becoming better and it seemed pretty clear that we have some bettering to do.

Effective immediately, John Cheese is out and Dwayne Hoover is taking over all duties as editor-in-chief. John will have no connection with the site going forward. We are also unpublishing anything he’s written for the site.

We’re still a small operation, but if we’re going to amount to anything, we’ve got to plan for what things look like if we become successful. That means writing a statement of purpose and establishing a code of conduct that we can all point to as we hold each other accountable. Look for that soon.

When you’re a small team of independent creators, it’s tempting to shrug off all that “corporate HR stuff,” but this was a real wake-up call for me. It matters that we put our values into writing, it matters that we make sure people feel safe writing for us, and it matters that we put structures in place today to make sure that we’re proud of what we grow into.

And most importantly, it matters that we clearly put into words just what we’re aiming for, so all of us can easily see who’s sticking to the plan.

I had to do a fair bit of growing up over the weekend, and I know it wasn’t as fast as many of you would have liked. For those who were kind enough to wait: Thank you. Please don’t mistake my prudence for disregard. This is something I want to make sure we get right.

—Brian