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On That Pesky Washingtonienne Blogger Book Panelgate

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Our assessment of Jessica Cutler‘s blow-off of an upcoming mediabistro.com panel has stirred up a wee bit of controversy — dare we say, panelgate? — along the blogger-author-panel circuit. Today’s Page Six framed the point-counterpoint nicely:

BLOGGER-turned-author Jessica Cutler pulled out of next Monday’s Mediabistro panel on how bloggers can land book deals. Her “blowoff” prompted Mediabistro to remind readers that Cutler is “someone known for exchanging sex for money.” Cutler — who earned minor fame when her sex-focused blog The Washingtonienne was adopted into a book of the same title — told Page Six she dropped out of the panel because she’s being sued, and doesn’t want to be videotaped. Mediabistro editor Dylan Stableford told us he “was looking forward to her explaining how a blogger manages to sell more than 15 copies of a book.”

Rachel Kramer Bussel, the panel’s moderator, thought we were being “overly harsh”:

I can’t say I agree at all with FishbowlNY blogger Dylan Stableford’s take on Jessica Cutler dropping out of the panel (which just made Page Six). And I don’t say that only because Jessica is my friend. I would say the same even if I didn’t know her. She is being sued by Robert Steinbuch, which I’ve probably blogged about more than anyone cares to read but it just infuriates me so much — and believe me, not all of the most ludicrous details have been made public yet. He is claiming all sorts of damages, from not being able to find a job to not being able to get laid as easily, and trying to pin that on Jessica. Part of the consequences of that suit affect her ability to support herself and have impacted her life. I’m not saying let’s all feel sorry for Jessica Cutler — she’d be the last person to want that — but to not assume that she is just being flaky and flighty when she did give ample notice about the panel. I think, firstly, that you often have to take what Jessica writes on her blog at least a little bit tongue in cheek (her donate button says “I need money for slutty clothes and drugs!” and her one-line bio reads “I am a published author who jumps out of cakes for money.”) That’s one of the things I love about her. But the fact is, she didn’t know it was being videotaped and that was an issue for her regarding the lawsuit … I think this is a case of Dylan joining many other people in being overly harsh toward Jessica because of some kind of prejudice that I’ve yet to fully understand. Taking sex for money, in whatever form that occurs, seems to set off people’s ire in a way few other sex acts do.

Well, we’d respectfully disagree with our “Lusty Lady” moderator. This has nothing to do with any kind of prejudice toward sex-for-money. Her blog-to-book could’ve been about labrador retrievers — our take would’ve been the same. Ms. Washingtonienne made it about money. We just wrote about it.

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