Pic related: we aren't making this up.
"There has been considerable controversy surrounding events at the 2014 Bay Area Brony Spectacular Convention (BABSCon) concerning the revocation of Michael Bernstein’s (“Final Draft” of Everfree Network) press pass. While Mr. Bernstein took to Twitter to establish his own narrative, the executive staff of BABSCon decided to avoid pursuing a heated argument on social media. Despite his claims that he was unfairly targeted and his pass revoked for no reason, we believe that great latitude was given to Mr. Bernstein before his unseemly behavior made it clear that he was unwilling to abide by the Convention policies he agreed to follow.
This document serves as a more measured record of the events leading up to Mr. Bernstein’s press pass being revoked, and his being asked to leave the convention space.
Issues with Everfree Network (EFN) began prior to the start of the convention. BABSCon media policy limited each media organization to five badges unless a pre-con, signed agreement had been reached between a media outlet and BABSCon. EFN initially complied with this policy, submitting applications for Final Draft, Kiniro, Larscis, Caycifish, and 10th Doctor Hooves. However, Kryptonlogic later filed a separate badge request for “Everfree News,” despite it being an integral part of EFN. In fact, one staff member of Everfree News was included in the original EFN badge application. The second application included badges for Kryptonlogic, Reldan, and “Princess.”
The Head of PR for BABSCon, WeAreBorg, spoke with Final Draft via Skype and informed him that EFN would have to comply with the five-badge limit, just as other media organizations were being asked to. It should be noted that some of these others provided considerably more assistance to the con than did EFN.) Final Draft did not agree with WeAreBorg’s decision and appealed to the Con Chair, Sonya Hipper, and the Vice Chair, Olivia Daniels, for an exemption. Both refused to consider making an exception for EFN, and EFN chose to request badges for Final Draft, Kiniro, Caycifish, Kryptonlogic, and Reldan.
Registration for BABSCon opened on Thursday night, and EFN was one of the first groups to claim their badges. WeAreBorg came to Registration to greet the press groups and deal with any issues. Upon arriving, he noticed that the Registration personnel were not using his Press document to account for the badges being issued. Final Draft assured him that they were keeping track themselves. However, on inspection of the printed badges WeAreBorg found that EFN had convinced the Registration personnel to print six, rather than the agreed-upon five, badges.
This was a clear violation of BABSCon policy, as listed on the Convention’s press page (www.BABSCon.com/press): Each media group was to be granted five press badges in return for assisting in promotion of the Convention and adhering to the policies and procedures of the Convention. It was also a violation of the agreement made between the Con Chair, Vice Chair, and Final Draft before the con, namely that EFN would receive press badges for Final Draft, Kiniro, Caycifish, Kryptonlogic, and Reldan. The extra badge had been printed for CowboyDave.
When confronted on the violation, Final Draft’s explanation was that CowboyDave was to be a member of a panel being run by Final Draft and therefore needed a panelist badge, and that he had gotten permission for the additional badge from the Con Chair.
WeAreBorg later sought to confirm Final Draft’s claim with Sonya Hipper. She stated that she did not recall approving a sixth badge for EFN and that his claim was not true. This badge, then, was obtained under a falsehood and is considered a theft of a badge by the BABSCon Staff.
A more serious issue cropped up during the VIP Meet-and-Greet, an event staged for attendees who had purchased a Premium membership which entitled them to attend a get-together with the Guests. This was not a press event, nor were press invited to attend (unless, of course, they had purchased a Premium membership on their own). Final Draft entered the room using only a complimentary (i.e., provided free of charge) press badge. A member of the VIP Liaison staff noticed him and brought him to WeAreBorg’s attention.
After a brief discussion with Karen Padilla, Head of VIP Relations, WeAreBorg sent Karen to approached Final Draft and informed him that he needed to leave the Meet-and-Greet, since his complimentary press badge did not entitle him to attend. Instead of complying, Final Draft moved to the other side of the room. WeAreBorg then spoke with the Vice Chair, Olivia Daniels, who then escorted Final Draft from the room.
However, the most troubling incidents involving Mr. Bernstein concerned his interactions with some of our Guests of Honor. Below is an excerpt from the BABSCon press interview request form, which set forth clear guidelines. Con policy, which all members of the press agreed to follow in return for their complimentary press badges, laid out the procedures and limitations for conducting Guest interviews at BABSCon:
“The GoH has the final say when it comes to interviews. If at any time they wish to cancel an interview you must honor that request. If a GOH wishes you to edit something out you must comply.
Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the immediate removal of your badge and press privileges. Anyone caught asking for interviews directly will all also result in the immediate removal of your badge and press privileges.“ (Emphasis added.)
WeAreBorg scheduled several interviews with Guests and emailed members of the press group for phone contact information. From EFN, he received the following email.
“Thanks but we've already taken care of the interviews ourself.
This was a direct and admitted violation of the policy concerning direct arrangement of interviews, as clearly stated in the policy. Furthermore, throughout the day WeAreBorg received reports from several VIP Liaisons that the guests they were escorting had been approached by Final Draft for interviews, including a report that Final Draft had managed to enter the Autograph room before it was open to attendees (including press), and proceeded to work his way around the tables and press each guest for an interview.
In particular, his constant (and increasingly demanding) requests made one Guest (who wishes not to be identified by name) very uncomfortable.
At this point, Final Draft’s flagrant disregard for con policy could not be ignored. The Vice Chair and WeAreBorg, accompanied by two members of the FLARE Safety Team, confronted Final Draft with their concerns. Instead of discussing the issues and coming to a mutually-agreed solution, Final Draft became belligerent. SInce no satisfactory resolution could be found, WeAreBorg requested that Final Draft surrender his press badge. Final Draft continued to argue loudly, and in the end was escorted out of the convention space by the Safety Team members.
This was not the resolution the staff of BABSCon sought, but it became the only one available to us. We are sorry that it was necessary, but are firm in our belief that it could have been avoided if Mr. Bernstein had followed the policies laid out by the Convention ahead of time– policies that Mr. Bernstein agreed to comply with in return for receiving a free pass and extra access to our Guests. Prior to the revocation of his Press pass, Final Draft violated Convention policies on multiple occasions. Though he claims he was arbitrarily removed for personal reasons, we believe he was given ample opportunity to continue attending despite his refusal to follow the clear policies of the Convention.
Overall, BABSCon was an incredible event to be involved with. We wish to thank all of our volunteers, for giving freely of their time and energy to put on a great event, the vendors for bringing an astonishing array of well-made and pony-tastic goods, our attendees for coming and creating a positive and exciting energy throughout the entire event, our Musical Guests who put on an amazing show that kept people going all night long, and everyone who helped spread the word, make preparations, and assisted in putting on a truly Spectacular convention, the first Ponycon in the Bay Area!
And most of all, we wish to thank our Guests for coming and spending time with us, and for working so hard to create the amazing show that brought us together.
Final Draft has taken to Twitter vowing to give his version of the story.
Update: Bronytime has released this podcast dealing with BABScon and the Draft situation. The Draft talk begins around the 16 minute mark.