Gawker ethics 101: Blame the source
|Nick Denton is saving Democracy, one pubic hair at a time.|
Hot on the heels of its success with the Brett Favre penis sexts, Gawker went to the well one too many times and dredged up a not-very-lurid tale about Christine O'Donnell sleeping in bed with (but not having sex with) a younger dude. The website paid "low four figures" for the story, which is perhaps the sleaziest detail of all.
After a backlash from all the internets, including its sister site Jezebel, Gawker has published a mea culpa, though its more of a mea did nothing wrong.
In a lengthy, over-serious post--the likes of which Gawker would more typically mock if it appeared in other media--
Perhaps the most duplicitous part of this meandering, mendacious screed is where Gawker throws their "anonymous" source under the bus:
A good deal of the reaction to the piece was governed by revulsion at the voice of Anonymous, who certainly comes off as a dick. So yes, we will grant you that the 25-year-old guy Christine O'Donnell drunkenly pursued, and bedded, on Halloween night three years ago is not a gentleman. We wish she had better taste in guys. But our publication of his account wasn't intended as a celebration of his character.Gawker conveniently elides the inconvenient truth that Nick Denton himself has already bragged about how a Gawker staff member ghost wrote the post (we're guessing the ghost goosed the pubes description):
This is the exact same playbook used during the fallout from the Favre saga. If you'll recall, I asked Nick Denton why he burned a source to publish pictures of Favre's penis. Then, as now, he claimed the moral high ground.
From: Nick Denton
Date: October 28, 2010 3:52:52 PM EDT
Subject: Getting out of the way of the story
This Gawker scoop is an example of brilliant packaging. The composite image that shows up on the front is good; the pull quotes; etc.
But, best of all: the story was written in the first person. The journalist is a ghost-writer. The account is much more compelling as a result. As is the headline.
@panopticon13 Our ethics policy? To publish the real story, the one that so-called sports journalists have spent their careers avoiding.
The only difference is at least then he had the cajones to put his name on it.