Back in the day, Gawker used to be much more interested in old-school media figures -- the Barry Dillers and Tina Browns of the world. But over time, Gakwer Media boss Nick Denton and assorted Gawker editors realized that they could grow the site's traffic beyond its original core audience of Manhattan media-world navel-gazers if they looked past the exploits of fading media grandees and instead focused on the broader pop-cultural news of the day (along with whatever went on viral on Reddit yesterday). Fortunately, Gawker makes an exception for News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch and his minions (especially those at Fox News).
The latest Gawker volley against Citizen Murdoch is especially personal. It comes in the form of a feature-length (2,500+ words!) post published yesterday by John Cook: "'It Was Like a War Zone': A Former Nanny for Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng Speaks Out." Labeled a Gawker "Exclusive" -- Cook tracked down the details of a previously unreported-upon 2007 lawsuit against the Murdochs, then interviewed the former nanny in question -- it's exhaustive and exhausting and great, nasty fun. It even gets the magazine-style packaging Gawker reserves for some of its biggest stories: a custom graphic (shown left) and an enlarged bit of type (a "pull-quote" in print parlance) that draws attention to one of the bitchiest bits in the post: "Everyone who works for [Wendi] hates her and is scared of her." I'm not going to summarize the piece for you -- you can read it yourself here -- but that should give you a pretty good idea.
So far the post has racked up close to 60,000 page views. By comparison, John Cook's posts that focus primarily on Fox News chief Roger Ailes (Cook is obsessed with him) often have a hard time cracking 20,000. See, for example, "Roger Ailes Takes His Insane Small-Town Blood Feud to Court" (13,514 page views to date), from last November, and "Roger Ailes to Craft Book-Length Cascade of Lies" (6,492), from last December. A recent exception: "The Anti-Obama Emails Roger Ailes Forwards to His Underlings" (60,587 to date).
It's worth noting that neither yesterday's nanny post nor the assorted Ailes posts come close to Gawker's April 10 dispatch by the so-called Fox Mole (who was quickly unmasked) titled "Announcing Our Newest Hire: A Current Fox News Channel Employee" or the April 12 post (by John Cook again) with the irresistible headline "Here's a Picture of Bill O'Reilly With a Topless Woman Along With the Fox News Legal Threat Meant to Quash It" -- each of which has earned nearly three-quarters-of -a-million page views to date. Of course, those were both sort of lightning strikes.
Anyway, aren't you glad Gawker Media has fearless legal counsel?
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.