HBO and Max Chairman Casey Bloys apologized for using fake Twitter accounts to tweak TV critics who gave unfavorable reviews to the network’s programming.
Bloys addressed the matter Thursday at the start of at a New York press event for upcoming HBO and Max program slate.
The existence of the tweets was revealed in wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former HBO employee and detailed in Rolling Stone.
Bloys, generally respected by the TV press since he ascended to programming chief at HBO in 2016, apologized to the journalists named in the story. He was also seen making amends with Rolling Stone TV critic Alan Sepinwall before his press conference began.
While not excusing his bizarre actions, Bloys cited his “passion” for HBO’s programming and too much time on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s very important to me what you all think of the shows,” Bloys said. “When you think about that, and then think of 2020 and 2021, I’m working from home and doing an unhealthy amount of scrolling through Twitter. And I come up with a very, very dumb idea to vent my frustration.”
Bloys, who was named to his current post heading HBO and Max in October 2022, said he now engages with critics he disagrees with through direct messages.
“When I take issue with something, I DM you,” he said. “Many of you are gracious enough to engage in a back-and-forth with me.”
Rolling Stone cited text messages between Bloys and Kathleen McCaffrey, senior vice president of drama programming, about responding to critics who were not fond of their series. They used fake accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter, to counter negative reviews.
The text messages regarding the plan were provided to Rolling Stone by Sully Temori, a former executive assistant at HBO who filed the wrongful termination suit against his former employer. HBO did not deny the existence of the text messages.
In his suit, Temori said he was instructed to create a Twitter account to combat negative reviews by critics for Rolling Stone and the New York Times. Temori said he sent the tweets under a fake account that used the name Kelly Shepard, described in a Twitter profile as a “vegan Texan mom.”
Temori’s lawsuit, filed in July, alleges that he was harassed and discriminated against while working at HBO. It also alleges retaliation and wrongful termination.
“HBO intends to vigorously defend against Mr. Temori’s allegations,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to a full and fair resolution of this dispute. In the meantime, we wish Mr. Temori, a former HBO employee, well in his future endeavors.”
This story originally appeared on LATimes