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Chrissy Teigen Embroiled In Bullying Controversy

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Chrissy Teigen, cookbook author and wife of John Legend, was once known as the Queen of Twitter, but no more. Several people have come forward saying that Teigen sent them bullying, abusive messages showing a pattern of behavior that appears to be at odds with the public image Teigen has crafted for herself over the past decade.

Taylor Ferber, entertainment reporter and host of the "Cancel Me, Baby!" podcast, was also on the receiving end of Teigen's bullying. And she joins me now to talk about it. Hello, and welcome.

TAYLOR FERBER: Hi, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You called out Chrissy Teigen's bullying five years ago. Can you briefly explain your encounter with her then?

FERBER: So I was a writer at VH1. And I saw Chrissy trying to combat bullying by being a bully. So I called it out in a piece. And I said - it was called "Chrissy Teigen Is Twitter's Biggest Hypocrite." And she ended up going after VH1 on Twitter and then after me personally. Despite the fact that my editor agreed with the piece, they ended up suspending me, taking down the piece.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow.

FERBER: And yes. So it nearly, you know, jeopardized my job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, let's just remind people why we're talking about this. Courtney Stodden was at the front of many jokes for being a, quote, unquote, "child bride" after they married a 50-year-old acting coach when they were 16 years old. Courtney identifies as nonbinary. This all happened in 2011. And Teigen was one of those people sort of bullying Stodden at that age. Tell us how she has responded.

FERBER: You know, back in March, Chrissy Teigen had quit Twitter saying, I can't handle the negativity. Now, at the time, Courtney had come out and said, wow, how rich. You know, this is somebody who publicly came after me, does an interview with The Daily Beast really recounting what went on privately. That then blew up - the DMs Courtney revealed - that Chrissy told them to basically kill themselves. So Chrissy did a public apology on Twitter. What's funny is that Courtney's like, I didn't even see that because I'm still blocked by her on Twitter. Cut to now. We haven't heard from Chrissy. She's been silent. She writes this lengthy post on Medium. And it's really sort of owning her behavior.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm going to read a little bit of that post. She said...

FERBER: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...(Reading) Life has made me more empathetic. I'm more understanding of what motivates trolling, the instant gratification that you get from lashing out and clapping back, throwing rocks at someone you think is invincible because they're famous. Also, I know now how it feels to be on the receiving end of incredible vitriol. Believe me, the irony of this is not lost on me.

And she's had some repercussions, right? Macy's has pulled the Cravings line. They're no longer doing Netflix shows. I mean, as someone who was kind of cancelled themselves, what do you think of how she is being, in a sense, punished for her behavior?

FERBER: I mean, this is not one politically incorrect joke or stand-up from, you know, 1985. This is repetitive behavior. Anyone else, I feel like, would just be crucified. I feel like she's getting a pass. On the other end of it, I don't believe in canceling period. It's the same idea as ostracizing men, from #MeToo, women's issues. What are they going to learn by being shut out and put in a corner and put in timeout and punished, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you're saying, cnaceling people isn't really the best way forward. But if there are no consequences, if, actually, bad behavior isn't somehow checked, then what message does that send?

FERBER: Well, here's our problem - is that now we've become so extreme that I think it's causing the opposite effect of what we want, right? We want inclusion. We want diversity. We want these dialogues. But with people walking on eggshells, I think it makes people more resentful. It makes people scared. It makes people afraid to slip up in any way. So they're like, I'm just going to be over here and be quiet and not even say anything. And I think that that is just so harmful.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, she is someone who's incredibly prominent. Does that maybe say something about the role that celebrities play in our culture, how hugely powerful they are and how much we elevate them?

FERBER: Absolutely. I think that this last year really showed people how celebrities are kind of on their own planet - right? - of privilege and their sort of charmed lives. And I think it's opening people's eyes, to your point and to your question, going, wait a minute. Why are these people impacting us so much when they're sort of really living on their own worlds? And I think that's a conversation that's absolutely going to be going on moving forward.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Taylor Ferber, host of the podcast "Cancel Me, Baby!" Thank you very much.

FERBER: Thank you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: After we taped this conversation, Chrissy Teigen posted another statement, this one on Instagram, saying that she, quote, "contritely apologized for insensitive public tweets made around a decade ago" but that she, quote, "did not acknowledge or apologize for sending private messages directing or encouraging self-harm." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.