Publisher Of Sports Illustrated Fires CEO After Fake Authors Scandal

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The owner of the venerated sports magazine “Sports Illustrated” fired its CEO following a scandal which revealed the magazine had allegedly been publishing articles written by artificially generated writers, according to a press release from parent company The Arena Group.

The company’s board announced Monday afternoon they had “terminated the employment of CEO Ross Levinsohn, and named Manoj Bhargava as interim Chief Executive Officer, both effective today.”

Levinsohn’s departure follows the company’s previous dismissals of COO Andrew Kraft, media president Rob Barrett and corporate counsel Julie Fenster, per the statement.

Sports Illustrated has been under fire since the bombshell November report from Futurism that alleges the company created fake author pages to pump out artificial intelligence-generated content. (RELATED: The Senate Is Considering An AI Bill That Could Radically Alter The Future Of The Internet)

One of the site’s authors, Drew Ortiz, had a profile picture that appeared to be taken from a website that generates artificial photos, per Futurism. This was reportedly not the only profile with a picture which appeared to be from the website. When Ortiz’ page was taken down this summer, it linked to a certain Sora Tanaka, which was in turn replaced by another profile page, the outlet reported. When Futurism reached out to Sports Illustrated, the magazine apparently deleted all of the other allegedly AI-generated pages from their site.

One article, apparently written by Ortiz, describes volleyball as a sport that “can be a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with,” according to Futurism.

The Arena Group has since admitted the content came from a third party, AdVon Commerce, according to the New York Post.

Newly minted CEO Manoj Bhargava’s representative Vince Bodiford claimed the C-suite shakeup was unrelated to the AI incident, and instead partially a move by the board of directors of  The Arena Group “to improve the operational efficiency and the revenue of the company,” the outlet reported.