Last week Gawker helped an escort blackmail an executive at a rival media company when it published a story about his attempts to hook up with the escort, who had threatened to rat his client out to the media unless he helped him with a housing dispute. When the executive refused, the escort went running to Gawker, which happily published the story and then faced a torrent of outrage from readers and fellow journalists in response. And now the story has gotten even crazier.
After Gawker yanked the story because it did not meet its own standards for being newsworthy, the two editors who were responsible for the story being posted have resigned. And they didn’t just resign by walking out the door — they wrote long, self-righteous rants about how they were horrified that the higher ups would blatantly interfere with the website’s editorial decision making.
“That this post was deleted at all is an absolute surrender of Gawker’s claim to ‘radical transparency’; that non-editorial business executives were given a vote in the decision to remove it is an unacceptable and unprecedented breach of the editorial firewall, and turns Gawker’s claim to be the world’s largest independent media company into, essentially, a joke,” thundered ex-Gawker editor Max Read in his Prisoner-esque resignation scene.
And I’m sorry but cry me a river.
Gawker has rightly earned a reputation for stepping way, way over the line — if you want evidence, look no further than its disgusting series of posts filled with completely baseless speculation about James Franco being a “gay rapist” over the years. Gawker has routinely showed that it has very little regard for the people it’s hurting and the fact that both the resigning editors still think Gawker should have run the piece that it pulled last week is appalling.
Not once in their whiny resignation letters did either Read or fellow editor Tommy Craggs express any kind of remorse for how they just completely wrecked someone’s family over a story that wasn’t newsworthy. There is not even a hint of reflection for how their actions have hurt others.
Instead all they did was talk about how unfair it was that everyone was piling on and that Gawker should feel free to publish whatever crap its writers want without any judgments from grown-ups in the room.
Part of being a good editor is having good judgement about what to publish and what to leave alone. When Gawker decided to publish a story outing a non-public figure at the behest of a blackmailer, it showed a nihilistic disregard for any sort of decency. Let’s hope that both Read and Craggs don’t just resign from Gawker but resign from journalism as a whole. The industry, frankly, is much better without them.