Gawker has a reputation of being a gossip site that will go very far to break a huge story that will shame and humiliate those in powerful positions. While many times this has lead to some groundbreaking journalism, on Thursday night, the website went WAY too far in its attempt to generate buzz and get a whole bunch of click to their site. On this fateful evening, Gawker sold its soul and it backfired on them in ways they can’t even imagine.
Writer Jordan Sargent posted a story that provided no real public interest but instead was just a smarmy hitjob on a relatively unknown person who happens to have a famous brother. The man, David Geithner, is the brother of Timothy Geithner, who served as the Secretary of the Treasury under President Obama. David is the CFO of Conde Nast and apparently got involved with a male escort at some point but backed out of actually meeting him. He isn’t a well-known public figure or politician who supports anti-gay legislation, which would be the only legitimate reason one would publicly out someone in this manner.
The escort contacted Gawker to expose Geithner. While the escort’s identity was concealed for the story, Geithner was exposed, and his life was likely ruined by the story. (David Geithner is married and has three children.) There is no reason to elaborate on the story any further. It is a disgusting public outing and shaming of a man that did nothing to deserve it. And neither did his family and loved ones. In fact, outside of It was tabloid journalism at its absolute worst.
The interesting thing about the immediate reaction to the story is that there was nearly universal disgust towards Gawker for publishing this tripe. Regardless of one’s ideological or political beliefs, age, race, gender or whatever, the consensus opinion on Thursday night was, “Fuck Gawker!” Even the comments section of the story showed almost total agreement from the commenters. (And if you are familiar with Gawker’s commenters, you’ll know this is unheard of.)
On Twitter, Gawker became the top trending topic, which is amazing considering this is on the same day as the Chattanooga shooting. Below is a small sample of what many were saying.
Smells like someone just took a huge @Gawker in here. 💩
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 17, 2015
“Dox the powerful,” says Anil Dash. “Dox no one,” says I. Sliding laws of morality & false sense of justice give you Gawker’s actions.
— David Auerbach (@AuerbachKeller) July 17, 2015
— Colin Moriarty (@notaxation) July 17, 2015
as a guy who has to read politico and watch fox news for my day job, man, gawker.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) July 17, 2015
Chuck Johnson for EIC of Gawker
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 17, 2015
Hey @Gawker & Jordan Sargent,wondering if your families proud of you yet or do you need to ruin more lives?
— Danny Zuker (@DannyZuker) July 17, 2015
I like and defend Gawker often, but that story is what happens when a mandate for hyper-aggression meets a total absence of news judgment.
— Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) July 17, 2015
I’m a fan of Gawker & several of its journalists, but that article is reprehensible beyond belief: it’s deranged to publish that.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 17, 2015
.@gawker I want to blackmail Taylor Swift. She won’t go into business with me. But I have proof she likes pineapple on pizza. Email me.
— Dave Lozo (@DaveLozo) July 17, 2015
Here’s the thing. Gawker cannot make this right. They’ve already fucked over this guy, his life, and the lives of his family. It is beyond reprehensible. Fuck you, Gawker. Fuck you, Jordan Sargent. That is all one can say at this point.