If you run a site for 13 years, you’ll make some mistakes along the way. Sometimes, you write something and regret it the second after it goes up. Sometimes, you realize after the first or second comment that your entire thesis has been misinterpreted. Sometimes, breaking news arrives 20 minutes after a post goes up that transforms an innocent post into something it wasn’t designed to be.
There are other times when a writer posts something that’s plain bad or sure to generate a massive hellscape of emails and negative comments. Sometimes a post sneaks through while I’m away on a weekend or not around at night. Sometimes, I let something through that I shouldn’t.
I need not go into specifics, but these mistakes are made from time to time. It’s mostly a rarity these days because we’re more in tune with what is appropriate and what isn’t.
When you’re a publisher, however, what you don’t do is throw your writer under the bus. Delete the post? Sure. Apologize. Absolutely! Clarify, if possible. Remove the post before anyone notices and then answer emails from the 5 people who saw it before it went down? Definitely!
But don’t publicly shit on the writer. That’s just tacky. And shitty. And shut up, it’s your site, so barring a hack, anything that goes up is ultimately your responsibility.
To wit: Chris Spraggs of Barstool Sports, which I understand was already a worthless, shitty bro site, posted this:
That is a bad take. A seriously bad take. Like, the worst bad take.
But we’ve occasionally written an inflammatory headline designed to enrage our readers only to calm them with the actual content. Nothing on that level, mind you, but we do love a good troll post.
But the text to that article? NOT BETTER.
With all the fat acceptance and “love me as I am” crowd, there’s definitely a world where I could see chicks see Rihanna make some strong “I don’t give a fuck I just love pizza” quote that goes viral and bam we’re in a world where all the hottest girls look like the humans in Wall-E. And just in time for summer too. A world of ladies shaped like the Hindenburg loaded into one-piece bathing suits may be on the horizon now that Rihanna is traipsing around out there looking like she’s in a sumo suit. It’s a dangerous precedent and you may want to start adjusting your porn browsing to primarily BBW porn to condition yourself to this dystopian future we now face.
Oh, man. How does anyone who has written for the Internet or read the Internet, ever, think that is an acceptable post to write on any site?
As an editor or a publisher, how do you deal with something that egregiously awful? I hope I never have to find out, but I think I’d probably delete the post immediately, remove all Tweets and FB posts, issue an apology if more than 6 people saw it, and pray to God that it blows over. Meanwhile, I’d have a conversation with the writer of that post and, if necessary, let the writer go and never speak of it again.
What you don’t do, however, is wait for the bus to come speeding by and toss the writer immediately under the wheels, as the founder of Barstrool Sports, Dave Portnoy, did in a blog post.
And truthfully the facts are there is a double standard at this company. If Big Cat or PFT or KFC or I write this blog I’ll defend it to the death. They have earned that trust and loyalty from me. I hired them because I think they are all legitimacy hilarious people. However as I’ve said many times Spags wasn’t originally hired to be a personality at Barstool. He should not be writing blogs that we as a company end up having to defend. And I’ve been doing this long enough to know that somewhere down the line this blog will be dug up again and used as an example of our extreme sexism. Frankly that’s not a hill I’m willing to die on. I’ll choose a different guy and a different blog to go to war for. Just like how the risk wasn’t worth the reward in writing this, the risk isn’t worth the reward defending it either. That’s called being a leader. I make the decisions nobody else has the stomach to make.
That’s not called “being a leader,” Dave. That’s called being an asshole. You’re pulling a Trump, and blaming everyone else but yourself. It’s your fucking website, dude. And if “Big Cat or PFT or KFC” had written that post, you shouldn’t be defending them, either, because it’s a shitty post and a shitty take no matter who the author is. But then Dave Portnoy — who has written that “a sleeping woman groped on a Delta flight was ‘begging’ for it and co-opted a quotation from the Holocaust memorial to argue that skinny jeans are ruining women’s asses” might not really understand the nature of “extreme sexism” in the first place.