On Monday, days after Gawker ran a universally condemned article in which a private citizen publicly was outed as gay for apparently trying to meet up with an escort, Tommy Craggs and Max Read announced their resignations as the company’s executive editor and editor-in-chief, respectively. The article in question, written by Jordan Sargent, reported that the CFO of a rival media company paid a gay porn star to meet up and have sex. The subject of the piece is a married father and not a publicly known figure, but does have a well-known brother. While the escort was afforded anonymity in the piece, the subject was completely exposed.
Immediately after the piece was published, Gawker’s readers and other journalists expressed nearly unanimous disgust that Gawker allowed the article to be published. The main complaint was that the piece served no public interest whatsoever and was merely a hit job on a private individual who happened to work for a rival. Also, due to the obvious salacious nature of the article, it was likely going to get a lot of clicks and attention. Another criticism is it was obviously homophobic in that it meant to ‘gay shame’ the individual. Considering that the person was not publicly known or a political figure with a history of anti-gay policies, there seemed to be no real reason for this exposure.
Gawker’s CEO and founder, Nick Denton, felt that the public shellacking Gawker was receiving was enough to warrant taking down the piece. After discussing with the other managing partners and legal counsel, it was agreed to delete the post. The one dissenting voice was Craggs, who claimed that none of the editorial staff agreed that the piece should come down. After the article had been deleted on Friday, Gawker’s editorial staff posted a petulant statement on the site, claiming that it was an ethical breach by management.
While Craggs and Read have resigned over their belief that they are taking a principled stand over journalistic ethics — especially ironic since Gawker has hammered #GamerGate over its claims that it’s about ethics in gamer journalism — they are not seeing many defenders, except for their own circle of Gawker writers and editors. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone else in the media, or those who regularly read Gawker, claiming that Gawker’s staff is in the right here. Especially since Craggs and Read have shown no contrition regarding the personal and professional damage caused by the article. (Worse, they’re making themselves out like the real victims in this mess, not the man or family that they destroyed by running the piece.)
After Gawker posted Craggs’ and Read’s statements, the majority of comments on the site showed absolutely no sympathy for them and their so-called stand for editorial freedom. Essentially, the consensus opinion among the readers was “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.” Meanwhile, the story was pretty much the same on Twitter, especially among fellow journalists and editors.
The real issue here is that the despised business side apparently had a better grasp of journalistic ethics than Gawker editorial.
— Farran Nehme (@selfstyledsiren) July 20, 2015
I’d respect Tommy Craggs and Max Read if they were resigning for how morally shite Gawker has gotten. Instead, they’re doubling down.
— Alisha Grauso (@AlishaGrauso) July 20, 2015
With the resignation of the editors who approved & defended that homophobic hit piece, Gawker may be able to rebuild its reputation.
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) July 20, 2015
Regardless of ed-biz debate, fact that an editor is still defending this post on the merits is simply beyond belief: http://t.co/X094mQKUVg
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) July 20, 2015
Executive Editor and EiC of Gawker fall on their swords over insane gay-shaming post that got yanked. http://t.co/wRKmLH7w2k
— Justin Ling (@Justin_Ling) July 20, 2015
Tommy Craggs & Max Read built a straw man, gave it a sword, then fell on it.
— jimmyist (@jimmyist) July 20, 2015
Gawker’s Max Read & Tommy Craggs publish homophobic hit piece that ruins guy’s life, then resign bc they’re the real victims in all this.
— Gabriel Arana (@gabrielarana) July 20, 2015
looking forward to reading all the latest blackmail coverage published 100% independently on Max Read’s blog.
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 20, 2015
Tommy Craggs and Max Read are Resigning from Gawker http://t.co/h8hq9cvnGr Fight for the right to have the ethics of…what exactly?
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) July 20, 2015
Here’s the kind of sendoff they deserve: