Coming off a string of bloody noses in the past year, notorious left-wing gossip rag Gawker may have burned its last witch. Last Thursday, the site came under fire after posting an expose of Condé Nast CFO David Geithner (brother of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner) and his purported attempt to hire a gay escort. Gawker pulled the article after an explosion of online rage at the site’s attempt to blackmail Geithner:
Why Geithner bailed on Ryan while on the runway in New York is open for speculation. It’s possible that his plane was indeed delayed. Or, of course, he could have gotten spooked by an escort with an agenda who had discovered exactly who he was. After all, Geithner had booked Ryan until midnight or 1 a.m.—one figures it would require an excruciating delay to get in that late. Plus, his escort, booked at a four-star hotel, probably wouldn’t have minded waiting around.
While Gawker has been the subject of rage and boycotts before—GamerGate’s crusading against the site cost Gawker Media millions of dollars in lost ad revenue, and the site’s rich boy staffer Sam Biddle was put out to pasture after being lambasted for supporting bullying—the anger unleashed by the Geithner article is the worst yet. Gawker has managed to alienate the one demographic that was backing them to the hilt: social justice warriors.
With everyone from the Washington Post to Breitbart tearing into Gawker Media and a lawsuit from Hulk Hogan threatening to bankrupt them, it looks like the jig is up. Nick Denton’s empire of evil is unlikely to last another five years. While Gawker’s brand of cultural Marxist witch-hunting once made them a force to be feared, Denton and his lackeys are now running in fear from the online lynch mobs they built their careers out of stirring up.
Yellow Journalism For The Internet Age
Gawker’s Nick Denton has amassed a fortune standing atop the burning corpses of the unwitting souls his blog empire has targeted. Gawker and its sister sites, such as Jezebel and Valleywag, rose to prominence through witch-hunts: singling out public and private figures alike for “racist,” “sexist” or “homophobic” comments, then siccing Twitter lynch mobs on them to get them fired from their jobs. Pax Dickinson, Justine Tunney, Justine Sacco: the list of souls that Gawker has ruined could fill a phone book.
The secret to Gawker Media’s success? Denton modeled Gawker and its satellite sites on British tabloids such as the Daily Mail. In contrast to American tabloids, which are about glad-handing and ass-kissing, British tabloids specialize in nasty, cruel attacks on public figures, whipping up a new Two Minutes Hate with each issue. Combining this business model with expert social media manipulation and SJW ideology made Gawker a force to be reckoned with in the digital age.
Unfortunately, much like McCarthyism and other witch-hunting hysterias of the past, Gawker’s brand of moral indignation has a shelf life. As Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos reported several months ago, GamerGate-led boycotts of Gawker’s advertisers hit the site’s advertising revenue hard. An internal reorganization following said boycotts lead to the ouster of editorial director Joel Johnson, and as our sister site Reaxxion reported last month, Denton is seeking to eliminate the site’s need for writers altogether:
But why would Gawker writers want to unionize? Because Denton is looking to get rid of them. Johnson says Denton has spent millions of dollars over the last several years on a new kind of microblogging platform called Kinja. According to Johnson, Kinja’s motto is that “commenters are just as important as writers.” Under the Kinja model, commenters and microbloggers will provide the majority of the site’s value, with writers functioning mostly as “cocktail party hosts,” introducing topics for discussion and making sure the guests don’t get too unruly.
Furthermore, Gawker’s increasing feeling of invulnerability from crushing minor targets as Pax Dickinson has led them to pick fights with people who can actually hurt them. For example, Gawker’s publication of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape lead to a lawsuit which they stand a good chance of losing, further taxing their nearly-empty coffers and encouraging other public figures they’ve wronged to follow suit.
At every turn, Denton and company have made precisely the wrong moves, continuing to dig themselves in even deeper.
A Dangerous Precedent
Furthermore, Denton’s decision to pull the David Geithner story will further hurt the site by jeopardizing its writers’ editorial independence. One of Gawker’s strengths has been the relative freedom it affords its staffers when it comes to stirring up attention and getting clicks; indeed, the site pays its writers in part according to the popularity of their articles. By yanking the article, Gawker is showing that it will change its content according to the whims of angry mobs: several of the site’s staffers are openly revolting against Denton’s decision.
While the anger over the David Geithner article will subside, this incident is yet another nail in Gawker Media’s coffin. With even their left-wing demographic raging against them now, the number of people receptive to their brand of faux-moral snark is vanishing quickly. While it’s unlikely that the age of SJW-driven social media shaming will come to an end soon, it’s nice to see one of its biggest proponents slitting its own throat.