Mets GM Jared Porter sent reporter unsolicited texts, explicit photos
Porter was with the Cubs in 2016 when he sent a foreign reporter over 60 messages, many of which went unanswered, per an ESPN report.
Just over a month after being hired as the Mets’ new general manager, Jared Porter is in hot water after ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan reported that he sent numerous unsolicited text messages and images to a foreign female reporter in 2016. It’s a story all too common for women and non-binary people, especially those that work in male-dominated fields like sports.
As Kimes and Passan note, the victim asked ESPN not to publicize the matter for fear of reprisal in her home country. As a result, ESPN sat on the story for years. The woman eventually left the industry and the U.S., after which she gave ESPN permission to print the story while granting her anonymity.
Per the report, Porter sent the woman more than 60 text messages, many of them unanswered, along with increasingly lewd photos. When asked to comment by ESPN, Porter called the more explicit photos “kinda like joke-stock images.”
After repeatedly texting the reporter without a response, Porter reached for a common trope among men, writing, “I’m a nice guy you know,” along with a sad face emoji. The “nice guy” is such a common trope that it has become part of the social parlance. Typically, a “nice guy” hides his sexual desire behind compliments and kind gestures, expecting that they will result in sexual favors.
Mets president Sandy Alderson said to ESPN on Monday night:
I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse and has previously apologized for his actions. The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story. We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue.
An error in judgment is forgetting to fill up the tea kettle before putting it on the burner. It’s forgetting to put your phone on silent in a movie theater. What is not an error in judgment is sending upwards of 60 unsolicited text and photo messages to a woman who has stopped responding. Porter’s offending behavior took place over the span of multiple days. The words he used showed some level of understanding that his behavior was wrong, as he asked, “Is it too much for you?” as well as, “Am I annoying you?” He even asked, “Was it the pictures that made you mad?” before sending another unsolicited picture.
After conferring with a player from her home country and an interpreter, the woman sent a text message that said to Porter, “This is extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line. Could you please stop sending offensive photos or msg.” Porter apologized and said, “Please let me know if you ever need anything work wise.”
Among the myriad inappropriate messages Porter sent, it is that last one that illustrates the overarching issue, which is a power imbalance that still greatly favors men in many industries. Porter was cognizant of the power imbalance between himself – then the director of professional scouting with the Cubs – and the reporter, someone who was from another country and not fluent in English. He hoped to wash away his offending behavior by using his power to help her advance in the industry.
That itself has even become a well-worn trope in American culture. Disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein told The Spectator in 2018, “Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone.” Similar situations have long been part of the plot lines of TV shows and movies.
The Marlins were celebrated in November when they hired Kim Ng as their new GM. Ng became both the first female and first Asian-American GM in MLB history. In 2021, more than 150 years after the founding of Major League Baseball, two glass ceilings had finally been broken. But MLB front offices remain overwhelmingly white and male. The Porter situation shows the importance of diversity not just in the most public-facing rules, but throughout all departments and hierarchies. Porter was not a GM when he sent his offending text messages; he was a director of professional scouting.
MLB teams have many arms executive management to baseball operations, human resources, legal, marketing, business affairs, etc. many of which have directors and managers. Furthermore, many mastheads – both print and online – are also overwhelmingly white and male. They are all capable of abusing their power the way Porter did.
Porter’s victim said, “Being alone in a different country made it tougher. I didn’t know who to trust and rely on.” Perhaps if she saw people who looked like her among MLB hires and in newsrooms, she might have felt safe enough to speak freely about her experiences, rather than going out of her way to avoid Porter and ultimately leaving the industry and the country altogether.
Alderson said the Mets will “review the facts,” but Porter already admitted to the offending behavior. He sent over 60 text messages that didn’t result in a response. Take a hint. He sent an unsolicited picture of genitals to the reporter. Whether they were his or a “Joke-stock image” is beside the point, as the picture was unwanted regardless. At minimum, Porter should be fired as the Mets’ GM on Tuesday.
But this isn’t just a Mets issue. You’ll recall that former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman was fired after targeting female reporters to celebrate domestic abuser Roberto Osuna getting the win over the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS. The Cubs willingly traded for domestic abuser Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and willingly kept domestic abuser Addison Russell around in 2017 after his ex-wife publicized her experiences. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer harrassed a female fan for days because she wasn’t his biggest fan. Mets owner Steve Cohen was the subject of a gender discrimination lawsuit at his old hedge fund Point72.
This isn’t even strictly a Major League Baseball issue. This behavior is exhibited by men in power across all industries. Film, television, gaming, business, etc. This is a societal and structural issue and it’s not one easily solved. Enacting more diverse hiring practices would be a great start but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.