A gentle reminder that network executives, just like the rest of us, experience the impact of online criticism. What sets them apart, though, is their ability to assemble a sort of “covert army” to counter their online detractors. (Maybe they should consider extending this support to entry-level digital media employees!) This is precisely the case with Casey Bloys, the current CEO of HBO. He reportedly found himself perturbed by negative feedback and reviews, leading him to craft clever responses, which were then posted through anonymous accounts. It’s a fascinating world we live in!
Bloys’ “secret force” is the focus of a recent exposé in Rolling Stone. The report unveils how Bloys and Kathleen McCaffrey, HBO’s senior vice president of drama programming, coordinated responses to critics such as Kathryn VanArendonk, Alan Sepinwall, James Poniewozik, and more on Twitter.
Their collaborative efforts were entrusted to an HBO executive assistant named Sully Temori, who has since taken legal action against HBO. This is how we have come to know about a collection of rather embarrassing text messages exchanged between Bloys and McCaffrey. “We just need someone random to make a point and make her feel bad,” Bloys messaged McCaffrey in response to a tweet from VanArendonk.
Reportedly, McCaffrey informed Temori that Bloys is “obsessed with Twitter.” She said, “He always texts me asking me to find friends to reply… is there a way to create a dummy account that can’t be traced to us to do his bidding?” She also asked, “His Highness needs another one.
We need our friend to call out Alan for Mare” on another occasion. Furthermore, after a somewhat lukewarm review of “The Nevers” (of all the shows!), she mentioned, “Casey is looking for a tweeter… he’s mad at Alan Sepinwall. Can our secret operative please tweet at Alan’s review: ‘Alan is always predictably safe and scared in his opinions.’ And then we have to delete this chain, right? Omg, I just got scared, lol.”
To make matters even more interesting, Bloys didn’t just target established critics. He apparently waded into the comments section of Deadline articles, taking offense to anonymous comments about “Bloys-era cynicism of HBO development.” “How dare someone write that!!” Bloys reportedly texted McCaffrey. “I want to say something along the lines of ‘lol ok they are just counting their Emmys’ or something like that!?”
If Casey Bloys were to seek advice from a woman who writes about entertainment on the internet, it might be this: steer clear of the comments section, my friend! What happens there is none of your concern. One would think that television executives would develop a thicker skin as they climb the corporate ladder, or that the abundance of wealth would be consolation enough to keep them away from online battles. Most of us have to endure online negativity without the luxury of such wealth. Best of luck on your journey to healing, Mr. Bloys, and feel free to anonymously join our comments section anytime.