In 2002, a failed British journalist named Nick Denton started Gawker, a bitchy gossip blog run out of his Manhattan apartment. Over 10 years later, Gawker and its sister sites have become the biggest names in clickbait “journalism,” pulling down millions of visitors a month and making its owner a millionaire several times over. The secret to Denton’s success? He took the aggressive, lynch mob mentality of British tabloids, which specialize in ruining people’s lives, and injected it into America’s comparatively placid, Oprahfied media market.
In particular, Gawker, Jezebel, Valleywag, and their sister sites specialize in witch hunts: digital vigilantism against those who fail to keep up with leftist orthodoxy. Geoffrey Miller, Pax Dickinson, Justine Tunney, Violentacrez: the list of people whom Gawker has garroted for “racism” or “misogyny” could fill a phone book. With an army of Twitter twits behind it, Gawker Media truly is the moral majority of the left, instigating mob action against those who sin against the religion of tolerance. Gawker‘s provocations are even encouraging real-world violence now, as Valleywag‘s overfed man-baby of an editor Sam Biddle eggs on attacks against San Francisco tech workers from the safety of the East Coast.
Which makes the revelation that Denton has been allowing trolls to terrorize his female employees all the more delicious.
For the past few months, 4chan has been engaged in a trolling operation against Jezebel, posting pictures of rape and gore porn in the comments section. Despite the fact that these shocking and disgusting images are stressing out staffers to the point where they”re developing PTSD, Denton has steadfastly refused to do anything about the problem. Jezebel‘s staff recently snapped and posted an open letter on the site demanding that Gawker Media do something, calling 4chan’s trolling “a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel‘s staff and readers.”
Fat chance of this happening, however. As others have pointed out, Gawker Media’s business model depends on getting clicks; indeed, their writers are paid according to how many page views their articles get. Since comments help drive traffic to websites, fighting 4chan’s rape porn trolling will reduce Gawker‘s profitability. Not only that, Google itself ranks web pages according to how many comments they have, as comments are extremely difficult to fake. Fewer comments means a lower page rank, which translates into less search traffic and less money for Denton to blow on exotic vacations with his boy-toy hubby. If Gawker Media was willing to testify in federal court as to why they should be allowed to rip off their interns, you can bet your bottom peso that they aren”t going to do jack about this.
And there’s the punch line. Gawker Media, the company that gets people fired from their jobs for making “sexist” jokes, has been creating a hostile work environment for its women staffers for months. They”re the leftist equivalent of a priest who rails against homosexuality only to be caught molesting altar boys in the confessional booths. In staying silent on this for so long, Dodai Stewart, Lindy West, and Jezebel‘s other star employees have shown themselves to be frauds. They don”t care about feminism, “fat shaming,” or whatever cause they”re screeching about today; all they care about is money and power. And now we have the proof.
We shouldn”t be too surprised. For those too squeamish for war, social justice is the next best racket. If you”re an amoral hustler with no talent or job skills, just brand yourself an “activist” and you too can be raking in the Benjamins. Just ask Suey Park. She’s best known for launching the #CancelColbert campaign in response to a “racist” Tweet posted by Stephen Colbert … that was neither posted by him nor actually meant to be racist. As it turns out, Park is a professional activist who makes her living from consultations and speaking engagements. By engineering bogus controversies such as #CancelColbert and #NotMyChristianLeader, she gets free attention from the media, driving up demand for her services and making herself richer.
She’s far from the only example. Scratch a holier-than-thou social justice campaign and you”ll find oodles of cash at stake. Pax Dickinson, one of Gawker‘s most notable victims, was the CTO of Business Insider, one of Gawker Media’s biggest rivals. V. Stiviano, the mistress of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, was possibly pressured into releasing her “racist” tapes of the man by Magic Johnson, who’s been looking to wrest control of the Clippers from Sterling for years now. Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is worth millions of dollars. Clearly, nobody is going broke overestimating the credulity of the American public.
As Ryan Holiday wrote in his now-classic book Trust Me, I”m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, this kind of chicanery has never been easier. With the Internet accelerating the news cycle to light speed, news organizations no longer have the ability to be slow and thorough. He who dies with the most clicks wins, and with sites like Gawker who make their bread off of clickbait, every newspaper and TV station has to be equally sensational just to compete. Not that journalists have any interest in getting the story right, anyway: as I learned during my brief experience in J-school years ago, the current crop of young reporters are committing plagiarism and fabrication on a scale that makes Stephen Glass look like Ambrose Bierce.
And now the self-appointed commissars of the left are being hoisted by their own petards. Nick Denton himself once said that “hypocrisy is the only modern sin,” which by his own logic makes him the Antichrist. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when West, Stewart, Erin Gloria Ryan and Jezebel‘s other staffers realized that their boss was treating them just as cruelly as they”ve treated every “misogynist” and “douchecanoe” they”ve set out to destroy. Their meal ticket came with a poisoned chalice.