It is generally agreed in the court of public opinion that Gawker, the trolling narcissistic media outlet, is toxic. Inwardly to their employees, as well as outwardly. They are toxic to brands like Coke. They are toxic to brands whose opinions they don't share, like Chick-fil-a. They write noxious opinion pieces in support of pedophilia. They are even poison to brands like Adobe, and Mercedes-Benz, brands who, just by showing up in the same sentence as Gawker got shit for it, even though they may not have ever been advertising partners. I won't even get into GamerGate as that's Dabitch's beat.
If all that weren't enough to make your stomach churn, let us not forget Gawker's penchant for destroying personal lives in the name of "freedom of speech." First there was a piece entitled "Condé Nast's CFO Tried To Pay 2500 for a night with a gay porn star," that was so unbelievably base and met which such widespread criticism that the site was forced to take it down, but not before the damage was done. And here's an obvious Protip: once it's on the internet it lives forever.
In case you somehow slept through last summer and missed this story, New York Magazine sums it up thusly: " Gawker published a story about a Condé Nast executive (who's married to a woman) allegedly arranging to meet up with a gay escort while on a trip to Chicago. When the escort found out who his client was, he attempted to blackmail him into helping with a housing-discrimination lawsuit he was embroiled in. The Gawker story, complete with text-message screenshots, provided anonymity to the escort but named the executive. In the end, the executive never even met up with the escort, nor did he agree to help with the discrimination lawsuit."
The criticism was that the person in question wasn't a public figure and also that it wasn't a story but an excuse to try and out someone for clicks. Of course, the damage was already done by the time they removed the story but hey, what's one person's rep when you have ad space to sell?
The question is how much longer will brands like Progressive and Red Bull (seen above) will want to swim in this cesspool?
We might soon find out. While the Condé Nast CFO in question wasn't a public figure, Hulk Hogan sure is. And now that the Hogan's 100 million dollar invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker over publishing and commenting on a sex tape without his consent is finally under way, we are learning a lot more about Gawker's sociopathic behavior. For instance, the examination of former editor Albert J Daulerio by lawyer Douglas E. Mirell. See this back and forth, as reported by The New York Times.
The former editor, Albert J. Daulerio, a defendant in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by the retired wrestler Hulk Hogan, was asked by the plaintiff’s lawyer where he drew the line when it came to posting videos of people having sex.
“Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” asked the lawyer, Douglas E. Mirell.
“If they were a child,” Mr. Daulerio replied.
“Under what age?” the lawyer pressed.
Gawker later said Daulerio was joking when he said "four," because that's what you do when you're on trial and want to impress a jury. You joke around.
Gawker and their lawyers are trying hard to frame this as a First Amendment Rights issue, whereas Hulk Hogan is viewing this as an invasion of privacy. Such is 2016 when the big issues are being represented by a man who wears a bandana and calls himself Hulk Hogan, and a media outlet who never bothered to reach out to him to ask questions before publishing. In other words, journalism. Instead, they go for clicks because there is ad space to sell and eyeballs matter more than lives, or a pursuit of the real story. When Hogan reached out to Gawker to remove the sext tape footage and story, they said "nah." The story racked up 8 million views, after all. According to testimony, the writers and editors even received a 20% bonus for it.
Ruin someone's reputation and get a reward for it. How nice. Before anyone takes Gawker's argument that Hulk Hogan is a public figure, let me direct you to today's testimony, also in regard to then editor Daulerio.
In an article that is ironically in today's New York Post, "the gossip site decided to run a story about a very drunk young woman who engaged in sex in a bar bathroom stall — despite frantic pleas by the anonymous college student who may have been raped — because it was “newsworthy” and “the truth, which can be hurtful.”
Note that the woman in question isn't named, but it is safe to assume she isn't a public figure. The Post goes on to report how the woman contacted Gawker asking to have it removed. Daulerio's initial emailed response? "Blah blah blah." He then went on to tell her not to worry about the whole thing, and then got a lawyer involved.
To reiterate. Gawker initially posted a sex tape involving a college student, not a public figure, who may have been raped. And then kept it up, long enough to get views, just like the Hulk Hogan tape before taking it down.
Hulk Hogan's lawyer Sean Vogt questioned Daulerio about the tape and his willingness if at all to do some journalistic digging and reporting.
“Before posting this video, did you try to determine whether the sex was consensual?”
“As far as I knew, it was consensual,” Daulerio answered.
“Did you contact the subject of the video?” the attorney pressed.
“Um, no, I did not,” Daulerio admitted
Gawker who when it's not seeing itself as a champion of the first amendment is defending porno tapes as being "newsworthy," because those at Gawker are Very Serious Journalists. And yet, none of them ever pick up the phone and ask questions, the way real journalists do. I should know: My father was a journalist for more than forty years. I can still see a phone tucked between his chin and shoulder as he furiously scribbled down answered to questions in shorthand notes before writing up a story. The idea no one would think to do this is either an outright lie, or shows just how far "journalism," has fallen. I suspect it's a bit of both. We're living in times where articles by so-called journalists are nothing more than a series of Twitter reactions at best. No one can bothered to check a source or verify it, or ask questions. Instead, they are the textbook definition of laziness in combing through social media for anything that sounds like a story, even if it isn't true. And this is true of NME, The Daily Mail and scores of others who got the Star Wars Body Shaming story just plain wrong. But the damage is done, too late to change it whether the story is removed or a flimsy non-apology gets issued on a Friday afternoon when no one is looking.
While those regular news outlets are reporting hoaxes and half truths, they still are less toxic than Gawker, because they aren't inserting themselves in the news to create a story. Only a few weeks ago, Gawker created a Mussolini bot on Twitter with quotes from the dictator, attributed to Donald Trump in the hopes that Trump would retweet one, thereby proving something.
Let that sink in. Instead of reporting on news, or interviewing people, or writing an actual story, Gawker decided to write a story about Gawker setting up a parody account. On Twitter. And how they tweeted at a Presidential candidate. Every day. Multiple times a day. For three months. Until finally. Three months later. Donald Trump retweeted them. GOTCHA.
Brands. Media buyers. We've already reported on how digital paid media is a fraud, that doesn't do that much for your brand. But if you still want to prop up the house of cards, at least be choosy about where you place your ads. Gawker is the Zika of news outlets. How much longer are you going to spend your money advertising there?