NYT, Tippi Hedren and 'Sleeping Her Way to the Top' Question Sparks Twitter War

Jennifer Weiner Headshot - P 2012
Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

Jennifer Weiner Headshot - P 2012

Andrew Goldman's Q&A with the actress set off a firestorm of tweets between Jennifer Weiner and two other high-profile women working in media.

A freelancer for New York Times Magazine set off a firestorm on Twitter as a result of a Q&A with Tippi Hedren in which he asked the legendary actress if she had considered sleeping with a director to boost her career.

Specifically, Andrew Goldman asked the 82-year-old whether she had considered sleeping with Alfred Hitchcock, who made unwanted sexual advances toward the actress, star of his movies The Birds and Marnie.

Goldman's exact question was: "The worst abuse happened after you rebuffed his advances. Actors have been known to sleep with less powerful directors for advancement in show business. Did you ever consider it?"

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The question didn't sit well with best-selling author Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes), who tweeted: "Saturday am. Iced coffee. NYT mag. See which actress Andrew Goldman has accused of sleeping her way to the top. #traditionsicoulddowithout"

In response, Goldman tweeted: "@jenniferweiner sensing pattern. Little Freud in me thinks you would have liked at least to have had opportunity to sleep way to top"

That drew the attention of New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum and author Mary Beth Williams (Gimme Shelter), among others.

Williams asked: "@andrewrgoldman Really think @jenniferweiner wishes she had 'more opportunities to sleep way to the top' & is 'obsessive' about you? SAD."

Goldman attempted to defend himself, saying his original comment was meant to be "as absurd as the charge. Apologies if you missed that."

He also invoked the name of a controversial comedian, saying he was attempting to "embody the Andrew Dice Clay I was being accused of being." (Read the entire Twitter conversation, which has been put together on Storify by blogger Jason Boog, here.)

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Goldman has since deleted the account from which he sent the tweets and apologized.

The New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan asked Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren about the incident afterward. Lindgren defended Goldman, saying that the questions were not sexist in the context of the complete interview.

"Hitchcock sexually harassed [Hedren]," he told Sullivan. "It was an unsavory decision she was actually faced with, so he asked her about it: He made no assertions about what she should or shouldn’t have done. Andrew’s questions acknowledge and refer to sexism in the world, but they are not, in and of themselves, sexist."

Still, he said Goldman was "needlessly rude and insulting" to Weiner but noted that the author had accepted his apology.

Sullivan, however, argued that Goldman got off too easily, noting on Twitter that he merely got "a slap on the wrist."

She added in her piece: "Given his misbehavior on Twitter and his status as a highly replaceable freelancer, I think his editors are extraordinarily generous to give" Goldman another chance.

For her part, Weiner told Sullivan that she finds Goldman to be "talented and funny" but wants him to "do his job better."

“I don’t see myself as a humorless, schoolmarm-y scold approaching the Magazine with a highlighter in hand," she said. "But Andrew Goldman is sometimes on the wrong side of the really offensive line.”

For the record, Hedren's response to Goldman's original question was: "I have a strong Lutheran background, and my parents instilled in me strong morals. This was something I could never have done. I was not interested in him that way at all. I was fortunate enough to work with him, and as far as I was concerned, he ruined everything."

Hedren's relationship with Hitchcock is the subject of a new HBO movie, The Girl, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock. It premieres Oct. 20.