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‘Business Insider’ Deletes Article Defending Scarlett Johansson’s Trans Casting

We’ve all had that moment where we say something and wish we could take it back — and now, so has Business Insider.

As pointed out by the Daily Beast, the site removed a post defending Scarlett Johansson, who was recently cast in the upcoming film Rub & Tug, where she’ll play transmasculine massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill. According to Beast, Insider claims the column, written by conservative columnist Danielle Greenbaum, did not meet the publication’s editorial standards.

In the piece, Greenbaum defended Johansson from the immense internet backlash she faced after the film and its casting decisions were announced.

“The job of an actor is to represent someone else,” Greenbaum wrote in the now-deleted column, which is available in an archived version. “Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That’s what she’s paid for. And if she does her job, she’ll make everyone forget about the controversy in the first place.”

Several Business Insider staff members claimed they were “offended” by the column, the Beast reported.  People who go to read the original piece will now see an editor’s note instead.

Conservative New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss criticized the decision on Twitter, saying, “Let me get this straight. @DGreenbaum says ScarJo should be able to play a trans man. @businessinsider pulls her piece because some staffers complain about her entirely anodyne view. What happens when a columnist writes something controversial?”

In the wake of pulling the column, Business Insider indicated it would revise its editorial standards for “culturally sensitive columns, analysis and opinion pieces,” which they said would be reviewed by the company’s executive editors before publication.

“Editors should make sure we are not publishing shallow, ‘hot takes,’ but instead, fully thought-out arguments that reflect and respect the opposing view,” editor-in-chief Nich Carlson said in an email to staff obtained by the Beast. “There should be no partisan name-calling, e.g. ‘social justice warriors,’ ‘libtards,’ or ‘rednecks.’ Opinion and arguments should feel reported and researched, and not like quick reactions.”

Carlson added, “This does not mean our argument-writers should not take big swings, or that they must have opinions shared by everyone in our newsroom.”


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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