#MeToo comes to visit the Nerd kingdom

As the Me Too moment has unfolded, I imagine most of us saw a few people named as sexual abusers who weren’t exactly a surprise. But there were others who honestly shocked us. Surely not him! The latter was my precise reaction when comedian, podcaster, Nerdist founder and game show host Chris Hardwick was called out by his ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra has having been sexually abusive. She made the revelation (without specifically naming Hardwick) in an essay published at Medium last week. The allegations are in no way proven yet and Hardwick is flatly denying it, but his many shows on the AMC cable network are being put on hold, as are some of his Comicon appearances. (CNN)

TV host Chris Hardwick is facing career fallout amid allegations by his ex-girlfriend, actress Chloe Dykstra, that he sexually and emotionally abused her.

AMC said Saturday it has suspended his show, “Talking with Chris Hardwick,” while it assesses the accusations against him. The cable network also said Hardwick will step aside from moderating AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month.

“We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years,” the network said. “We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously. While we assess the situation, ‘Talking With Chris Hardwick’ will not air on AMC.”
Hardwick has denied the allegations.

While nothing is apparently impossible these days, I just wanted to say up front that I’ll reserve judgment on this one until we can learn more, assuming we ever do. I have no idea what Chris Hardwick is like in private, but he opens up so much on his podcasts, as well as in his standup routines, that fans probably feel like they know him as well as a member of their own family. I’ve been listening to the Nerdist Podcast for at least five years now (not every one of them, but a good percentage) and heard Chris discuss the challenges he’s faced in life, his admitted shortcomings, his achievements and his thoughts on many subjects.

He’s a funny comedian who doesn’t work blue and rarely touches on politics, giving him a broad base of appeal. And the guy is seriously hilarious. He’s definitely a liberal, far off on the end of the bell curve when it comes to social justice issues, etc. but he doesn’t shove it in your face in his work. The stories Dykstra is telling just don’t sound like the Hardwick most of at least think we know. Also, this isn’t a case of a famous person who suddenly has dozens or hundreds of women showing up and telling the same tale. If his ex-girlfriend is the only accuser that should make us more cautious. Further, their relationship didn’t end well. She began cheating on him, though she describes it by saying, “she left him for another man.” Under those circumstances, a bitter ex-partner will sometimes say some odd things.

I’m not ruling it out, as I said, but I also don’t fall into the Believe the Women In All Cases camp either. Hardwick has not only had his AMC shows put on hold, but he’s the host of a primetime game show on NBC and they’re waiting to see if he’ll be back this fall based on these reports. Of course, he’ll still always have his podcast. And even if this all goes south for Hardwick, he’ll probably be okay in the end. After all, he’s married to a model from a famous family so rich that they literally own their own castle. (Yes, his mother-in-law is that Patty Hearst.)