Since I joined the HFPA in 2010, I have been an outspoken critic of mismanagement, corrupt practices, self-dealing, lack of transparency, nepotism, and cronyism in the association. The HFPA leadership, in turn, resorted to threats, racial prejudices, malicious lies and pernicious rumors and suspending my membership in order to silence me. Following the industry’s demand for the HFPA to reform itself in 2020, I hoped it would improve, but sadly it has become far worse. Instead of reforming, the HFPA’s leadership has spent millions of dollars of the association’s money on experts and lawyers to crush dissent and cover up corruption. Here is how they dealt with me:
Jan 31, 2022: The Wrap reaches out to me for a response to sexual misconduct allegations made by 3 women. I call the HFPA’s crisis manager, James Lee, for advice but he doesn’t take the call claiming to be busy. I inform my employer, the BBC, of the impending report and provide a rebuttal. The BBC is satisfied with the rebuttal and advises me to ignore the report and move on
Feb 1, 2022: The Wrap article comes out. The allegations are so absurd that they are ignored by the press and social media, but the HFPA, for the first time in its history, instantly announces an investigation without even contacting or informing me. The BBC decides to launch its own investigation.
Feb 7, 2022: The HFPA announces to the press that I have been put on probation, and its crisis manager exaggerates the allegations in an LA Times article claiming that I have been accused of sexual assault. The BBC cancels its investigation and suspends my show pending the HFPA’s investigation outcome.
Feb 8, 2022: The Wrap editor, Sharon Waxman, accuses me of antisemitism in a twitter post. Instead of receiving support, she is excoriated.
Feb 8, 2022: Finally, James Lee calls me, not to check on me but to express his concern for Waxman’s wellbeing after the attack on her on Twitter. He says that she’s stressed out and asks me to remove my tweet about her. I oblige and remove the tweet.
Feb 20, 2022: I receive a list of questions from the Jewish Chronicle, the World’s oldest and most influential Jewish newspaper, for a story about the antisemitic allegations against me. Upon receiving my answers, they drop the story.
Mar 1, 2022: Instead of concluding the investigation, The HFPA expands it to include my reaction to the allegations at Al Quds Al Arabi, accusing me of antisemitism. Unlike Jewish Chronicle, The HFPA’s investigators were not satisfied with my answers. BTW none of them is Jewish.
Mar 7, 2022: The HFPA DEI director, Neil Philips, calls to tell me to keep the matter confidential. When I tell him that according to the HFPA bylaws he should be in charge of this case, he says that he hadn’t seen the bylaws! I send him a copy, but I never hear back from him.
Mar 16, 2022: The investigators deny that I was accused of sexual assault and that I was being investigated for an alleged “unwanted kiss.” My lawyer follows with a letter to the HFPA’s board demanding recantation of their quote in the LA Times and compensation for damages. The HFPA’s board doesn’t respond.
Mar 25, 2022: I ask the investigators to provide the time of occurrence of the “unwanted kiss.” They don’t reply.
May 11, 2022: Having not heard back from HFPA and the investigators, I file a lawsuit against the HFPA at California’s Superior Court
May 18, 2022: My Lawyer sends another letter to the investigation asking for the date and the time of the occurrence of the alleged kiss. The investigators don’t respond.
Jun 15, 2022: The investigators deliver their report to the HFPA’s board. Despite their blatant bias against me, the investigators couldn’t find evidence of sexual misconduct, but they charged me with antisemitism based on an erroneous translation of my Al Quds Al Arabi article. The HFPA insists on keeping the report confidential and offers me a hearing behind closed doors on July 6th in order to sanction (expelling or suspending) me for the charges and for filing a lawsuit against the HFPA
Jul 5, 2022; I send a letter to the HFPA membership requesting a public hearing and attach two letters of support from my Jewish friends. Letter 1 and Letter 2
Jul 6, 2022: Instead of attending the closed-door hearing, My lawyer sends a letter to the HFPA board explaining the reason behind my absence