I think some of us have mixed feelings for Gawker Media (though, I know others have you are not mixed about your revulsion). They generally have great writers who can turn a helluva blog-post phrase, and have churned out some of the generation’s best online journalists. But good God, they will do anything for a scoop, whether it means paying $10,000 to buy unretouched photos of Lena Dunham from a photoshoot, posting video of Eric Dane and his wife in an apparent threesome, posting about the products Amy Pascal buys for her vagina, or gleefully ruining a woman’s life (many of Gawker’s most controversial stories often have the same ending: The Gawker writer leaves and concedes that their actions made them feel like dirty, lousy human beings).
I do, however, find their feuds with Buzzfeed, Vice, and Reddit both enlightening and amusing, if only for what it reveals about the modern state of “journalism.”
What Gawker did yesterday, however, could hardly be considered “journalism.” What they did was to out a married man with three children after an alleged shakedown by a male escort. David Geithner — the brother of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — allegedly solicited sex from a gay porn star.
Not only is the story possibly a hoax, or a shakedown by the gay porn star, but there’s literally no merit to publishing it other than clicks. How nasty was this story? So nasty that Perez Hilton — who used to be a self-hating gay man who outed gay personalities on the regular — shamed Gawker for their actions in a series of tweets, which also identified the real name of the blackmailing escort (I will withhold that name here, because I don’t know if Hilton’s reporting is accurate, either).
The tweets, however, read: [UNNAMMED] is the douchebag rentboy whose identity you protected lousily. And the porn star’s legal name is [UNNAMMED]. And THIS is the kind of person you enabled in a blackmail attempt!
This blackmailing rentboy is clearly unwell, with a long history of pathological lying! Shameful of you!
Gawker, naturally, defended the story. According to USA Today, Jezebel’s senior reporter Natasha Vargas-Cooper responded by saying that “Stories don’t need an upside. Not everyone has to feel good about the truth. If it’s true, you publish.” Meanwhile, Gawker’s EIC said that “given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies f**cking around on their wives.”
In the meantime, Gawker was trending on Twitter last night, so clearly their strategy to earn more clicks worked. Personally, I think we’ll stick with using lustful GIFs as clickbait. We never feel the need to apologize afterwards.