With a Twitter post that read “we have decided to part ways with Mike Boudet and Sword and Scale, Wondery Media over the weekend distanced itself from one of the show producers after he posted an offensive comment toward women on International Women’s Day. Boudet wrote in a now-deleted post on Instagram on Friday, “I don’t understand dumb c---s. Maybe I should take one apart to see how it works.” Boudet, who has faced controversy in the past over comments that were found offensive, again faced a social media backlash. But this time, Wondery had enough and announced it was pulling the plug.
Wondery’s split from Boudet led to his announcement over the weekend that Sword and Scale would cease production as a free, ad-supported podcast. “This is the end—anything that is ad-supported is over now,” Boudet said in an audio clip posted on Soundcloud. He said other parts of the show will move behind a paywall on Patreon—although Boudet says he’s looking for a new show host since he expects Patreon will face pressure similar to what Wondery experienced. “Censorship actually works,” Boudet said, calling Wondery’s reaction part of a larger culture war that’s wiping away free speech liberties. “The mob can censor you through intimidation, boycotts and other tactics just because they don’t like what you say,” he said.
Wondery’s move reflects the quickly evolving nature of podcasting, especially among the large companies that are reliant on advertising revenue. Marketers have increasingly grown skittish over online content, pressuring YouTube among others to develop systems to ensure their advertisements aren’t adjacent to anything some consumers may find offensive.