Penning the final piece on Gawker.com, owner Nick Denton takes time to reflect on the 13 year history of the tabloid website, which is closing up after losing a lawsuit to Hulk Hogan and being bought out by Univision. The piece is titled “How Things Work”, and it’s a follow-up to Max Read’s damage control piece that places blame on any and everyone but the one thing that destroyed Gawker: Gawker.
With the self-awareness of a Charley Chimp toy, Denton brazenly tries to position Gawker as an underdog punching up at some oppressively bloated strawman all throughout the piece. One quote in particular sums up the facade of Denton’s chivalry, where he writes about one of the tools of the trade that Gawker has used throughout the years to serve their own brand of internet justice to everyone, writing…
“Mockery, of course, is the cheapest and most available tool that the powerless have against the powerful; it has historically been the one thing that they can’t silence.”
But it’s in discussing how Gawker operated – the philosophy behind the tabloid taint – that belied Denton’s supposed “good intentioned” direction for the site. He lets slip that Gawker was about creating targets, not formulating useful public information posts, writing…
“The celebrities, the politicians, the capitalists, the publicists, the journalists—Gawker viewed them all as subjects, and cultivated none as allies.”
And that’s exactly how we ended up with misreports on former Nintendo rep Alison Rapp, on a sextape going public of Hulk Hogan, and the outing of a billionaire for no one’s gain but Gawker’s.
Despite being defeated by a number of their own mishaps, Denton still tries to displace blame elsewhere, creating a fictional tag-team of Thiel and Hogan as some sort of storyline villain out of the crude machinations of Vince McMahon’s own WWE sent as henchmen to body-slam Gawker out of existence, writing…
“Hogan was the most popular celebrity in Tampa. While a federal judge and a Florida appeals court panel found the story was solidly newsworthy because it touched a matter of public concern, it was always going to be a challenge to go up against Hogan against a home-town jury. When Judge Pamela Campbell allowed Hogan to pursue a privacy case in her circuit court, Thiel’s combination was ready.”
The story wasn’t newsworthy because there was no public concern to be had. Public concern for what?
It’s a lot more simple than that. Revenge porn in the state of Florida is illegal.
Gawker simply got caught breaking the law and any jury with a half-way working moral compass could have seen that a mile away.
Denton continues to try to run the angle that Gawker was a vigilante of the press; a hero without recognition doing due diligence for the masses, even going as far as to reiterate Max Read’s comments about the press not coming to Gawker’s aid, writing…
“[…] even Gawker’s natural allies had no enthusiasm for a free press defense of a story about a sex tape. Journalists were aware of the public’s growing sensitivity to anything that could be characterized as revenge porn or cyber bullying.”
“Could be” works on the premise that it “was not”, at which point any time someone has sexual relations made public without their consent or against their wishes, it’s labeled as revenge porn. Anyone stepping into the bed with Gawker on that defense may as well have written an editorial defending The Fappening. There’s no outlet out there that values what little integrity they have to dare defend the right to spread Hulk Hogan’s sex tape while arguing against the spread of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos.
Denton side-steps the history of Gawker’s own tawdry dealings to claim that the site avoided muddying itself in its own controversies (save for the Hulk Hogan trial), writing…
“Gawker’s record for accuracy is excellent. For a site as reckless as it is purported to be, there have been no Jayson Blairs, no conflict-of-interest or plagiarism scandals, no career-ending corrections. The chief rule of establishment journalism that it violated to its detriment, it seems, is the one that recommends against pissing off billionaires.”
Actually, the Nathan Grayson and Zoe Quinn conflict-of-interest is precisely what kickstarted #GamerGate. And if Max Read attributing #GamerGate for its persistence in helping to bring ruin to Gawker, well then it was Gawker’s own hubris (denying that a conflict-of-interest took place) that led to their ruination, because had they addressed the COI from the start, #GamerGate never would have existed.
The comment section on the site is closed, a fitting gesture for the fact that it’s the last piece to published on Gawker.com, signifying the end of an unwanted empire.