After Reportedly Killing A Major Sexual Harassment Story, Billboard CEO Steps Down

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John Amato, the former CEO of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group, has stepped down from his position, both The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard reported on Wednesday. During his short tenure in the position (he was appointed CEO in 2017, though he had served as the group's co-president since 2014), Amato oversaw The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Vibe, Spin, and Stereogum.
Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk, co-CEOs of the group's parent company Valence Media, released a statement (obtained and shared by The Daily Beast media reporter Max Tani) announcing Amato's sudden resignation, though they did not specify why.
"The search process for THR/Billboard's next CEO has already started, and we and our executive team will share the interim leadership plan with you in the near future," the brief statement read.
Prior to stepping down, Amato had been accused of burying and killing stories about sexual harassment allegations levied against Republic Records president (and Amato's close personal friend) Charlie Walk at his media group's outlets. According to exclusive reporting from The Daily Beast, Amato "worked to derail at least three stories" written about his pal. In some instances, he allegedly required reporters to send him their stories before publishing; in others, stories were quietly removed from the online archives.
At the time, a spokesperson would not disclose details to The Daily Beast. "As a media publisher, we do not comment on the details of editorial decisions," the unnamed representative said in a statement. "We covered this story thoroughly, publishing 23 reports in less than two months across Billboard, Spin, and Hollywood Reporter."
Still, Valence Media announced to its staff that it had taken the allegations seriously, writing in an email that it had "commenced the process of appointing an independent third party to lead a comprehensive review of the situation." As of now, the company hadn't released the results of its investigation.
Walk, who was for a long time a prominent and respected name in the industry, resigned from his position in March after at least six women accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct spanning his career at Columbia, Epic, and Republic Records. In an emotional letter posted to her blog, Tristan Blake Coopersmith, one of the first women to come forward with allegations against Walk, accused him of hounding her with overtly sexual remarks. Once, she wrote, Walk physically pushed her onto his bed. Others told Rolling Stone they had similar experiences. (Walk "categorically denied" all of the allegations described in the article to Rolling Stone.)
Months later, Coopersmith penned an essay for Refinery29 discussing her role in the #MeToo movement and how sharing her story impacted her life. In it, she directly called out everyone who was complicit in Walk's behavior.
"Every single person that I worked with at Columbia Records was a bystander," she wrote. "Every one of them, men and women, saw how Charlie behaved, and to my knowledge no one did anything, no one said anything."
Refinery29 has reached out to Valence Media for comment.
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