Gawker has taken down an article it posted Thursday night alleging that Conde Nast CFO David Geithner had nearly met with an escort. The article had been widely criticized for, among other things, apparently revealing sexual secrets about someone who is not a public figure, despite a big job at the publisher of Vogue and a former Treasury secretary for a brother.
The site has embarrassed many politicans, media figures and entertainers before. But after Gawker Media's managing partners voted 5 to 1 to unpublish the article, company founder Nick Denton wrote that even an accurate article about "extortion, illegality and reckless behavior" involving a senior executive at a major media company was not as worthy of publication as he might have once thought:
In the early days of the internet, that would have been enough.
But the media environment has changed, our readers have changed, and I have changed. Not only is criticism of yesterday's piece from readers intense, but much of what they've said has resonated. Some of our own writers, proud to work at one of the only independent media companies, are equally appalled.
I believe this public mood reflects a growing recognition that we all have secrets, and they are not all equally worthy of exposure. I can't defend yesterday's story as I can our coverage of Bill O'Reilly, Hillary Clinton or Hulk Hogan.
Gawker had never previously pulled a story absent a factual error or legal settlement, Mr. Denton said.
He didn't address the fact that while the apparent victim of the extortion in this case was named, the escort's anonymity was protected in the post. And it remains to be seen whether the about-face restores good will among readers, many of whom denounced it in strong terms before and after the story's removal.
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
REMINDER THAT GAWKER PARTICIPATED IN BLACKMAIL AND THAT REMOVING THE ARTICLE SHOULDN'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT AGAIN— ジニー (@mahoumelonball) July 17, 2015
Gawker's statement on their post's removal has 55,000 pageviews, which they will almost certainly monetize.— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) July 17, 2015