Saturday, June 11, 2016

Gawker and Thiel

Wired Magazine has an article today Gawker’s Bankruptcy Is How a Free Press Dies, One VC at a Time

All I can say is what a pile of unmitigated bullshit.  Everyone is all up in arms because Peter Thiel has "destroyed" Gawker and by extension the free press.  Well tough shit for Gawker.

Nick Denton clearly had greater ambitions; he iterated on Gawker’s roots to create a new style of online journalism that prided itself on publishing what everyone knew but no one else would say, in a voice everyone would emulate.
That’s the spirit in which Gawker’s Silicon Valley gossip offshoot Valleywag published a story in 2007 that announced billionaire PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel was gay. The piece didn’t “out” Thiel, as so many have written; Owen Thomas, the writer of the piece and now the business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, says Thiel was open about his sexuality with friends and colleagues. The point of the piece, rather, was to call out the hypocrisy of other venture capitalists, who supposedly prize non-conformity but would rather keep talk of sexual difference hush-hush.
So Thiel, a private citizen, who wanted to keep his private life private, has his privacy invaded by Gawker, so that they can make a nebulous point about some generalized hypocrisy surrounding non-conformity.  I don't believe it.  I think Gawker went after Thiel because a) He was an easy target, they knew he was trying to maintain a low profile on this subject so they figure he wouldn't say or do anything, b) everyone else had rolled over for them so why wouldn't Thiel, and c) They wanted the clicks and associated ad revenue.  It had nothing to do with any sort of news worthy activity.

And lets be clear - If Thiel was engaged in some sort of activity that made his sexuality relevant

They tried to ruin a guy because they could and they could make a little money off the deal.

In other words it was Tuesday in the Gawker offices.

Then because they had gotten away with similar behavior so many times, remember Justine Sacco, or the two guys Jezebel went after for questioning the Rolling Stone campus rape story, guys who were later proven correct.  (actually my timelines may be off a bit but the point stands).   They decide to publish a sex-tape of Hulk Hogan, it had no news-worthiness, it was just a blatant attempt to drive clicks.  (Another example that occurred in the middle of the Hulk Hogan trial - how bout the time they helped a male prostitute attempt to extort money from Tim Geithner's brother)

But they fucked up this time they had picked a fight not only with Hogan but with Thiel, and they were clearly wrong.  Let's not forget that the reason Gawker is going bankrupt isn't because Thiel stole their money or some other nefarious reason.  It's because they were sued the juty looked at what they did and decided - "Hey Gawker, You're a bunch of fuckwads who shouldn't be in business"

This isn't an attack on the free press it's holding people responsible for bad behavior.  The reason journalists are freaking out about it is because they are so rarely held to account.  It's the same reason some journalists still defend Dan Rather and his George W. Bush 60 Minutes report.

Well welcome to the real world - actions have consequences.

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