Gawker’s Gaffe Makes it Hypocritical

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A news organization publishing a post that is not news is hypocritical. And that is Gawker’s gaffe.

On Friday, Gawker pulled down a story “outing” Conde Naste’s CFO who tried to pay $2,500 for a night with a gay porn star.

The editor-in-chief of Gawker, Max Read, defended it, writing on Twitter, “Given the chance Gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies f—ing around on their wives.”

A couple of questions on his statement:

  1. How do we know he was f—ing around on his wife?
  2. Why is this news? The executive who was a subject in the story (to my knowledge) never was anti-gay in public and subsequently had a homosexual relationship, which would be hypocritical.

Now, pulling the story down for Gawker is unprecedented for the site.

Yet, stories “outing” people are as old as time.

Think about some hypocritical politicians who have been exposed.

Larry Craig’s wide stance, for instance. In fact, the Huffington Post had an article that lists “17 Politicians Who’ve Faced Gay Rumors Or Sex Scandals. 

Some high-profile ones included former governors Charlie Crist of Florida and James McGreevy of New Jersey.

More recently, former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, paid “hush money” to a former student to conceal allegations of sexual abuse from the time when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois.

When we read about these politicians who have had same-sex escapades, what often galls us is that some have been stanchly anti-gay. One example is Glenn Murphy Jr. Per the link from Ranker.com:

Glenn Murphy Jr., former head of the Young Republicans and one of the (former) leading Republicans of Indiana, always advocated “straight” family values and straight forward sexual orientation views. He was caught (finally, the second time he did it) performing fellatio on another Young Republican while that man slept, without that man’s consent.”

My point is obvious. When a politician takes a public stance against anything – gay relationships are “immoral,” or a hard-core anti-drug stance – and then commits the exact act that they publicly opposed – we are all revolted. These people are the ultimate hypocrites.

Now back to Gawker. The story it pulled down was not about a politician. Nor was it about a person who publicly railed against gay people.

One of the subjects was a CFO. The other a gay porn star who was in a desperate situation. The gay porn star gave the story to Gawker.

The result: an innocent CFO was publicly humiliated. After all, he is a family man in the traditional sense with a wife and kids. But, we really do not know the details of his private relationship. As I asked above: How do we know he was f—ing around on his wife? I have met people who may be gay, or bi-sexual who are in a heterosexual marriage. They may have an “arrangement” with their spouse. Is that my business? Answer: “No.” Is that really f—ing around?

We just had a groundbreaking few months in the news. We met Caitlyn Jenner. Perhaps the world came to be more accepting of transgender people.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage. It established that all people have the right to marry and love the person they find – no matter the race, creed, color, or sexual orientation.

Yet, Gawker writes a story that defames a person and is not news. And, that is the ultimate gaffe. That a news organization could not discern the difference between news and no news – not discern the difference between a person who never took a public stance, and a hypocrite. A news organization publishing news that is not news is hypocritical.

In taking the post down, chief executive officer Nick Denton, who founded Gawker Media in 2002, wrote: “The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family. Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.”

I commend Denton and the other four executives on the leadership team who had the sense to take this post down.

Now to save face, Gawker editor-in-chief Max Read should immediately resign, or be fired.

[Photo Credit: S Packwood on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]

This post appeared on the LinkedIn Influencer page of Rob Wyse on July 18th, 2015 and can be viewed there by clicking here.
Rob Wyse (@robwyse) is Managing Director, New York, of Capital Content, where he advises thought leaders and writes about issues that drive economic opportunity, improve the environment, and lead to positive social change. His areas of focus include for-benefit enterprises, climate change, interfaith understanding, jobs and the economy, Internet access, and healthcare reform.