Writer invites Tinder CEO to settle issues including female journalists and freedom of speech

On 18 November, Tinder CEO Sean Rad did an interview with the Evening Standard, in which it was revealed that Rad was “obsessed with journalists – too many are not seeking truth but fame – and baffled by critics because they can’t deny Tinder is what the world wants”. 

His own “truth” is that Tinder is “wonderful”, the Evening Standard wrote. He allegedly said: “We’ve solved the biggest problem in humanity: that you’re put on this planet to meet people.”

What drew headlines, however, was that he accused Vanity Fair writer Nancy Sales of heralding the “dawn of the dating apocalypse” in an article that interviewed “twentysomethings” in New York who used it solely for casual sex.

Rad suggested he was “defensive” and still “upset” about the article, and claimed to have done his own “background research” on Sales, “and there’s some stuff about her as an individual that will make you think differently.” 

Of course, Sales responded in an open letter, which we include for your viewing pleasure:

“Being such a big celebrity and all, it’s not surprising that you don’t have time to find out the meaning of certain vocabulary words. ‘Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff,’ you said in the Evening Standard. ‘You know, just talking. What’s the word?… I want to say ‘sodomy’?’

“But wait another second. As I kept reading this incredible interview, I saw my name, and I was like . . . huh? It said: ‘Rad is ‘defensive’ and still ‘upset’ about the article’ –in Vanity Fair it was called ‘Tinder Is the Night’ – ‘muttering mysteriously that he has done his own ‘background research’ on the writer Nancy Jo Sales, ‘and there’s some stuff about her as an individual that will make you think differently.’ He won’t elaborate on the matter.’

“Rad, don’t be mysterious, please elaborate. Were you talking about my career as a journalist over the past 20 years, 15 of them at Vanity Fair, one of the top publications in the world? I don’t think you were. On CNBC’s Squawk Box yesterday, host Rebecca Quick pressed Match Group chairman Greg Blatt on your apparent suggestion that you ‘had some inside information that would not reflect kindly on that author,’ meaning me. Backpedalling from your strange claim of having done ‘background research’ on me, Blatt said that what you actually meant was that you ‘had Googled actual articles that the person,’ meaning I, ‘had written before, and he thought there were some interesting things in those articles.’ Well, thanks so much. I’m glad that you find my work interesting.

“But, Rad, you and I both know that when you spoke of me as ‘an individual,’ you were talking about me personally. And you seemed to speak from a place of emotion, admitting that you were ‘upset’ about my piece in Vanity Fair – which wasn’t actually just about Tinder per se, but changes in the world of dating, with the introduction of dating apps overall. This was something I tried to point out in my response to an avalanche of tweets directed at me, one night in August, when someone at Tinder decided that he or she would try to besmirch my reputation as a journalist as well. Your Twitter account admonished me: ‘Next time reach out to us first… that’s what journalists typically do.

“I don’t need to point out that these kinds of personal attacks seem to happen to female journalists more than male ones. Some people in the media and on social media have even suggested you were ‘threatening’ me with what you said. Were you doing that, Rad? ‘There is a pattern with male tech execs in how they react when female journalists criticise them,’ tweeted Elizabeth Ford, a software engineer. 

“I don’t know if such a pattern exists in tech alone; I do know that after Sarah Lacy, the editor of Pando, reported on what she called ‘the outrageous sexism woven deeply into the culture’ of the car-service company Uber, BuzzFeed writer Ben Smith then wrote about a dinner at which Uber senior vice president Emil Michael spoke of his plans to discredit her. Michael ‘outlined the notion of spending ‘a million dollars’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists,’ Smith wrote. ‘That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press – they’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine.

“I’d be happy for you to join me in a public forum to talk about the important issues surrounding this little kerfuffle between you and me – freedom of the press; female journalists and freedom of the press. I invite the head of Match Group to come along, and anyone else at your company who has something relevant to say. I think people are concerned about the pressure that companies seem to feel they can put on journalists as a way of managing their bottom lines. I know that we could sit down and, together, really hash this out.”

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