Saturday, July 18, 2015


I wasn't planning to join the crowd that's writing about this Gawker thing:
... Gawker published a story about a Condé Nast executive (who's married to a woman) allegedly arranging to meet up with a gay escort while on a trip to Chicago. When the escort found out who his client was, he attempted to blackmail him into helping with a housing-discrimination lawsuit he was embroiled in....
The executive is Tim Geithner's brother, as everyone who read the story before it was taken down already knows. I agree with the widespread criticism of the story:
Geithner is not a public figure in any meaningful sense. What power the CFO of Conde Nast holds is relevant to nobody but the Newhouse family and the company’s employees. Geithner is not a public figure; he has no record of public moralism about sexual issues.

... as [Glenn] Greenwald observes we don’t even know that he was doing anything his wife disapproves of.
But this isn't just about sex and morality -- it's about class and status. Slate's Justin Peters writes about that -- but I think he's a little off base:
On Twitter, Gawker editor Max Read explained his editorial logic [for publishing the piece]:

In other words, the targeted executive is rich, and, to Gawker, wealth and status have always been inherently worthy of suspicion. ... populist ressentiment has animated Gawker Media since its earliest days.

... Gawker Media ... is still perhaps America’s most resentful major online news property, with what seems to be an internal culture of active umbrage and opposition toward people in any sort of power position. The site is unimpressed by titles and status....
No, the site is not "unimpressed by titles and status." The site is overly "impressed by titles and status." And while the site may take individuals down a peg (or, in this case, many pegs), a fixation on the real or alleged bad behavior of even mid-level "elitists" actually tends to enhance the status of the elite as a group. It reinforces the sense that these people are more important, more significant, than the rest of us.

It would be one thing if Gawker were also eager to expose the surreptitious sexual exploits of the CFO of a midsize industrial flange manufacturer from Kansas City. But that never happens at Gawker. Gawker is reinforcing the notion that the members of the coastal elite are endlessly fascinating, and is even expanding the definition of who belongs to the coastal elite.

Gawker might resent the coastal elite's power, but Gawker is reinforcing it.


Victor said...

That's why I never read gossipy shit.

It doesn't effect me in the least, so why should I give a shit - or two shit's, for that matter?
Some exec from X or Y company soliciting sex from a male or female prostitute?
That's between the exec, his/her spouse, and the prostitute.

Somebody having an affair, or paying someone for sex, is as old as humankind.
Not news.

Now, you catch some fire-'n-brimstone anti-gay preacher in bed with a teenage male hooker, that's not gossip:
That's a hypocrite acting hypocritically!
And, ergo: News.

Belvoir said...

Huh, interesting take. I think the article in question was ghastly and sleazy and should never have been published. The person it targeted seems to have done little -to-nothing wrong. Except trying to meet for extramarital sex with an unhinged no-good hustler extortionist whose blackmail Gawker gladly accommodated. I was very happy to see the instant and near-universal condemnation of this awful sleazy hit-job on a private guy with a wife and kids. Not a public figure, no one had to know, and Gawker ran with this, naming the vulnerable man and shielding the identity of his blackmailer. Who seems to be insane, deluded.

Gawker ought to rightly be sued off the face of the Internet. Hulk Hogan already has a $100 million suit against then, how'd they like another $100 million suit, for invasion of privacy and accessory to extortion?
The victim in question never even MET this hustler. And that Jordan Sargent ought to give up ever writing again, his article was such a scummy bit of "journalism, I hope he's sued too. Because this was a dreadful and horrible invasion of a guy's privacy, such a public airing of what should have been a private thing between consenting adults. Jordan Sargent dragged the guy's name and family into it. Like some 1950s morals squad. Eff him, and I hope Gawker gets sued to oblivion.

Paul Canning said...

Bit late to this but just to remind on what 'outing' originally was, as outlined by Michaelangelo Signorile in the early 90s. 'Outing' was not about targeting the powerful, it was about telling the whole truth - it was about journalism. The reason you would refer to someone's sexuality was because it was relevant. In other words you would not treat that sexuality as an awful secret that had to be hidden.

Here's something I wrote on that context