We don’t yet know the full details of why Hearst Corp. asked Scott Sassa, its president of entertainment and syndication, to resign.
The New York Post reported this morning that Sassa had browsed Kingzzz.com, a web site for hookers, and had sent explicit texts to a stripper. The stripper tried to blackmail Sassa, The Post reported yesterday, and when he balked the woman and her boyfriend sent his private communications to Hearst’s conservative top brass.
Hearst has declined comment.
Sassa was a big deal in the TV biz — he oversaw Hearst’s investments in ESPN, History Channel and Lifetime Television. And while the allegations will make some juicy headlines, Hearst could be making a lousy move in haste.
First, it should be pointed out that Sassa is single. As blogger Elizabeth Spiers noted on Twitter, “If sexting a stripper on one’s own time was normally a fire-able offense half of wall street would be pounding the pavement.”
The idea that no other exec at Hearst has ever sent a raunchy text to a paramour is completely ridiculous. And it’s none of our – or Hearst’s — business.
Sure, the Kingzzz.com aspect of the story looks unsavory. But this is Sassa’s personal life, not yours. Every single allegation we’ve heard so far involves consenting adults acting in private. There is no indication that his relationships were affecting his business decisions.
And then there’s the fact that Joe Francis, king of the Girls Gone Wild empire, is egging Hearst on. He called Sassa a “scumbag” on Twitter recently.
Is it really a good idea for Hearst to take Francis’ advice?
Lastly, every scumbag in America now knows that when you try to blackmail a Hearst executive, it totally works. Hearst will respond in exactly the way these sleazes want. That’s just about the most vulnerable thing a corporation can do to itself. Every single Hearst employee who is dating someone less than perfect — we’ve all been there, let’s face it — is now at risk.
I sincerely hope Hearst had better reasons for acting than Sassa’s private sexts. If it doesn’t, it will merely underline the fact that employers have no business policing their staff’s private lives, and that to do so invites more mess than it cures.
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