A story published on Gawker late last night purporting to out a high-profile media executive has drawn heavy criticism from online commenters, journalists, and even other writers for the “Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news” site.
The article, using screencapped text messages and mailing labels, brought to light an aborted tryst between a gay porn star and the CFO of a rival mass media company. According to the story, the CFO contacted the gay porn star (referred to as ‘Ryan’ in the article) and offered to pay $2,500 cash to meet while visiting Chicago. The two continued to text each other until Ryan discovered who he was dealing with and attempted to have the CFO use his connections to help the porn star with an ongoing dispute with the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD). The CFO ended up backing out of the planned meet up and Ryan brought the story to Gawker writer Jordan Sargent, who published the illicit correspondence.
Sarget contacted the executive about the story and was provided the following statement:
I don’t know who this individual is. This is a shakedown. I have never had a text exchange with this individual. He clearly has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with me.
Negative reactions to the article quickly began piling up. Among those who voiced their discomfort (and/or disgust) with the story:
Been a long time since I've seen such universal media revulsion for a media company's editorial decision: @jordansarge
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) July 17, 2015
To be clear: Geithner not a public figure. Closeted gay. Didn't have affair – backed out. So blackmailer goes to Gawker. Gawker cooperates.
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) July 17, 2015
— Peter Suderman (@petersuderman) July 17, 2015
There's no excuse for the Gawker piece, which I won't link to. It's disgraceful, and it shouldn't be referred to as journalism.
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) July 17, 2015
what the goddamn hell, Gawker. Seriously. Dude tries a shake down of a closet case, then randomly outs him. https://t.co/FqNkxXKMNI
— Justin Ling (@Justin_Ling) July 17, 2015
Dont read Gawker much as it is. But that's the end of it for me.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) July 17, 2015
— Best Mom Eva (@mombot) July 17, 2015
Gawker senior writer Adam Weinstein also came out against the article:
Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read has defended the story, however, saying: “given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies f**cking around on their wives.”
A cached version of the original article can be found here. What do you make of all this?
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post used a photo of the CFO and provided his name. After considering feedback from readers and out of respect for the executive’s family we have removed the photo. The image above is of Nick Denton, the managing editor of Gawker.