Over the past 20 hours, plenty of prominent media personalities have taken to bashing Gawker for its publishing of an article outing Condé Nast CFO David Geithner for having solicited a gay male porn star for escort services. Perhaps the harshest critique came from Glenn Greenwald, who dedicated 1,300 words to excoriating the site’s EIC Max Read and the editorial ethics behind the decision to hit “publish.”
For those who did not see the original story, here’s the background: A formerly-anonymous gay porn star leaked text messages to Gawker demonstrating that married Geither — who is the brother of former Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner — arranged with him for escort services in Chicago. The anonymous man, reported as “Ryan,” eventually found out how important his potential john was and hinted that he would like the Condé exec’s help with some legal troubles at home in Texas. Geithner presumably got spooked, bailed on their arrangement, and “Ryan” went to the press. Voila, a Gawker article outing a public figure who essentially refused to use his public figure for unethical purposes.
Calling the now-removed article “repugnant,” Greenwald wrote that the revelations only served to “destroy his life for fun” while engaging in “homophobic shaming” and aiding “Ryan”‘s “blackmail plot.”
“Beyond all that,” Greenwald added, “Gawker has an ongoing war with Reddit, owned by the magazine company for which the CFO works, which suggests this is part of some petty, vindictive drive for vengeance, with the CFO as collateral damage.”
But what really drove the Intercept columnist to lash out at Gawker was EIC Read’s justification for the piece, seen below:
given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies fucking around on their wives
— max read (@max_read) July 17, 2015
Greenwald’s scathing response:
Let’s leave to the side the obvious farce of Read’s sanctimonious posturing as the morality police: oh, yes, Gawker is simply on the prowl to locate and punish adulterers who are vandalizing the sanctity of their marital vows. It’s just about solemn retribution for sinners. At least have the decency to admit that you did this because you’re hungry for clicks, or because you get voyeuristic pleasure by scrounging around in other people’s sex lives, or because vicariously living through other people’s private sexual experiences lets you alleviate your own personal boredom and frustration, or because you have some twisted notion that your jihad against Reddit is advanced by sexually humiliating its publisher’s accountant. Ditch the moralizing pretexts: nobody is going to buy that.
And he put forward a rule of thumb for stories regarding people’s personal lives:
A good rule of decency is to stay out of the private, personal, and sexual lives of consenting adults, absent some very compelling reason to involve yourself (such as damaging hypocrisy on the part of a political figure). The temptations to intrude into and sit in judgment of those aspects of other people’s lives are powerful, but they’re almost always lowly, self-degrading and scummy. If you have any doubts about that, reading that vile Gawker post will permanently dispel them.
Read the full piece here.
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