I’m furious and heartbroken and frustrated and tired. Normally these are not ideal circumstances under which to write something, much less publish it, but I don’t know what else to do.
I remember reading Gawker in high school. Choire and Balk and Emily. It was gibberish but I loved it. I didn’t understand what or who they were talking about—what the heck is a Soho House???—but they were angry and funny and sharp and they were writing about things in the world that were true. (Then Moe wrote her tampon story and my mind was really blown.)
Shortly before I moved to New York, I emailed Choire, and for some reason he responded. We met, I harried him on Twitter, and that summer I was an intern at The Awl. That was three years ago.
Cook was editing Gawker at the time, and he invited me to try out on weekends the following spring—March or April 2014, probably. I was pretty terrible and it didn’t work out. (I even got roasted by Gawker ombudsman Freddie deBoer—shout out to Freddie.) If memory serves, that was when they hired Dayna and Kelly C., which was not something I could be mad at. In any case, Max gave me another shot in December. I was a better and faster writer by then, and he hired me. That was a bit over a year and a half ago.
All of that is to say that from the beginning of my professional writing career, I have operated well within the sphere of Gawker’s influence. The site, through its writers and editors—Adrian, Andy, Ashley, Biddle, Caity, Gabby, Hamilton, Jeb, Jordan, Keenan, Ken, Kelly S., Leah B., Leah F., Pareene, Rich, Scocca—has put its mark on me. I joined the staff full time in April wanting nothing more than to return the favor, to climb this enormous, billowing tree Nick planted and cultivated (however begrudgingly at times!) 14 years ago and to carve my name into whatever small space I could find. But I guess that’s over now.
There is an industry cliche that the highest calling of journalism is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, a phrase which originated with the early 20th century humorist Finley Peter Dunne, a muckraking journalist who had no qualms about turning his scorn on the hypocrisies of his own high-minded colleagues. As the fictional Irish immigrant “Mr. Dooley,” Dunne wrote:
Th newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward.
(Can you think of a contemporary publication that attempts, with wit and reportage, to hold the powerful and the elite to account while also having a sense of humor about itself? I can!)
Gawker was the website that I always wanted to write for because Gawker was the website I always wanted to read. But Gawker was an ethos as much as it was an outlet, and the shuttering of the outlet—for reasons that I understand but do not agree with—only reinforces, for me, the necessity of the ethos.
Anyway, this has been sentimental and self-indulgent and writerly in the worst possible ways. So, to Peter Thiel: Congratulations to you for creating a world in which it is impossible to own and operate Gawker; in which AJ Daulerio is suspended over the abyss; in which Biddle and Cook are threatened with the same—all for nothing more or less than telling the truth. You won! “Capital Crushes Dissent” is just one of those evergreen stories, I guess.
But congratulations too for creating a world in which countless writers, reporters, and editors will seek to publicize you, your friends’, and your industry’s every failure, expose your every hypocrisy, and illuminate your every ugly intention. If you really do want to live forever there should be no shortage of material.
It’ll be fun.
Update – 11:58 am
Never mind, this tweet says it all.