Television host and "geek" media entrepreneur Chris Hardwick's name was wiped from the pop culture web site he founded, Nerdist.com, on 15 June 2018 amid speculation that he was the person exposed for abusive behavior in an online post by actress Chloe Dykstra.
In addition, the AMC cable network announced on 16 June 2018 that it was pulling one of Hardwick's shows on the network, Talking with Chris Hardwick. Hardwick will also be removed as the moderator for San Diego Comic-Con panels concerning AMC and BBC America programming.
Dykstra did not identify Hardwick by name in the 14 June 2018 post on the web site Medium.com, but certain details — including her description of an abusive former boyfriend as almost twenty years her senior — led to the presumption that her story was about Hardwick, who also founded Nerdist in 2014. Dykstra is 29 years old; Hardwick is 46. They reportedly dated between 2012 and 2014. Hardwick married publishing heiress Lydia Hearst in August 2016.
"I watched and supported him as he grew from a mildly successful podcaster to a powerhouse CEO of his own company," she said of the former partner:
He was obsessed with celebrity, being famous, famous people. He did not spend any time with people he considered "friends", and only really made time for industry people who he considered "worth it".
Hardwick issued a statement of his own in response hours later, saying:
These are very serious allegations and not to be taken lightly which is why I’ve taken the day to consider how to respond. I was heartbroken to read Chloe's post. Our three year relationship was not perfect — we were ultimately not a good match and argued — even shouted at each other — but I loved her, and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her.
Jill Pantozzi, managing editor of another pop-culture news site, io9.com, posted a side-by-side comparison of the site's "About" section following Dyksta's essay:
::thumbs up emoji, nerdist:: pic.twitter.com/yRmGLF6PXh
— Jill Pantozzi ♿ (@JillPantozzi) June 15, 2018
Legendary Entertainment, which acquired Nerdist in 2012, said in a statement:
Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017. He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation.
Dykstra wrote in her essay that the abusive partner required her to "reserve" her weekends for him while also barring her from having close friendships with men who did not work with her. She was also forbidden from drinking alcohol because of his own sobriety — Hardwick has been sober since 2003 — and not allowed to speak in public. Because she was also "terrified to piss him off," Dykstra said, she also let the partner sexually assault her:
Every night, I laid there for him, occasionally in tears. He called it "starfishing". He thought the whole idea was funny. To be fair, I did go along with it out of fear of losing him. I’m still recovering from being sexually used (not in a super fun way) for three years.
Hardwick said in his statement that he was "devastated" by Dysktra's allegations:
I was blindsided by her post and always wanted the best for her. As a husband, a son, and future father, I do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women.
According to Dykstra, the abuse also affected her physical health, including a bout with anorexia. She also developed an ectopic pregnancy requiring surgery:
I'll never forget the night this man slept in a cot at the foot of my hospital bed after my surgery. It made me believe that deep down inside of him maybe there was a man who loved me.
Then, after my recovery, he and my mother were greeted by the doctor.
"The surgery went well, she'll be fine," said my doctor.
"Thank god," said my mother.
"That's great. When do you think I can have sex with her again?" said my ex.
It was his first question. My mother never forgot.
Dykstra wrote that she escaped the relationship after meeting and falling for another man, only to be "blacklisted" from the television industry because of the efforts of the former partner and an unidentified woman. She published the essay, she said, out of a need for closure.
Dykstra also said that upon hearing that she kissed another man, the partner "begged" her not to leave him and said that he planned to ask her to marry him. Hardwick said in his statement:
When we were living together, I found out that Chloe cheated on me, and I ended the relationship. For several weeks after we broke up, she asked me to get back together with me and even told me she wanted to have kids with me, "build a life' with me and told me that I was 'the one,' but I did not want to be with someone who was unfaithful.
As Dykstra's post circulated online, she issued a short statement on Twitter:
I quietly posted an article today, unlisted on Medium. It clearly made the rounds. I'm overwhelmed and I want to thank all of you for your support and kind words- they mean so much to me. I may take some time off the internet, please know your support means everything to me.
Nerdist published its own statement, which listed the phone numbers for both the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) as well as the link to the online hotline for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The statement also read:
We were shocked to read the news this morning. Nerdist prides itself on being an inclusive company made up of a positive, diverse community of people who come together to share, celebrate, and discuss the things we love. That type of behavior is contrary to everything we stand for and believe in, and we absolutely don’t tolerate discrimination, harassment, and other forms of abuse.
The essay was published a day after BBC America announced that Hardwick would host a panel at San Diego Comic-Con devoted to one of its flagship shows, Doctor Who. Hardwick has hosted several panels at the convention, which draws around 100,000 fans a year.
Hardwick has also hosted several programs for AMC; tTalking With Chris Hardwick is slated to begin on 17 June 2018. AMC said in a statement:
We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years. We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously.
We contacted BBC America and AMC seeking comment.