Gawker Editors Tommy Craggs And Max Read Resign Following Removal Of Controversial Post About Condé Nast CFO
Tommy Craggs and Max Read, Gawker editors, are resigning following the removal of a controversial post that outted the CFO of Condé Nast.
Gawker Editors Resign After Managing Partners Vote To Remove Story
Craggs, former executive editor of Gawker Media, and Read, former editor-in-chief of Gawker.com, announced their resignations on Monday, after Gawker’s managing partnership voted to take down a controversial post. Both Craggs and Read released memos to explain their departure from the company to their employees, explaining that they were leaving due to the interference by managing partners, not to stand up for the integrity of the article.
The article in question, titled “Condé Nast’s CFO Tried to Pay $2,500 for a Night With a Gay Porn Star” and written by Jordan Sargent, was originally published on July 16. The article, which was based on evidence and a narrative provided by the ‘Gay Porn Star’ who refused to be named in the article, quickly came under fire. Many critics attacked Gawker for appearing to out Condé Nast’s CFO, who is married to a woman, while others dismissed the article as aiding a potential blackmailer. Gawker quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, and the post received a flood of negative comments from readers. The following day, on July 17, the article was taken down from the site after the managing partnership voted 4 to 2 to remove the post – with President of Advertising and Partnerships Andrew Gorenstein, Chief Operating Officer Scott Kidder, Chief Strategy Officer Erin Pettigrew and Gawker Media Founder and CEO Nick Denton, voting to take down the post. Craggs and President Heather Dietrick were the only two who voted against removing the article.
CEO and Founder, Denton, explained his decision to remove the post, writing that, while the article was “true and well-reported,” the standards for Gawker had shifted. “The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family. Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement,” Denton wrote.
Gawker Editors Tommy Craggs And Max Read Resign
Craggs and Read allegedly decided to resign shortly after the decision was made to remove the post. In a memo to his colleagues, Craggs criticized Denton’s decision, writing, “the message was immediately broadcast to the company and to its readers that the responsibility Nick had vested in the executive editor is in fact meaningless, that true power over editorial resides in the whims of the four cringing members of the managing partnership’s Fear and Money Caucus.”
Craggs did not comment on the content of the article in question, but did stand by it, stating, “This isn’t the place to debate the merits of that story, other than to say that I stand by the post. Whatever faults it might have belong to me.”
Read issued a similar statement, calling the removal of the post “an unacceptable and unprecedented breach of the editorial firewall.”
In a separate e-mail to Gawker writers, Read also emphasized his support of the controversial article: “Jordan reported out a true and interesting story that stands well within the site’s long tradition of aggressively reporting on the sex and personal lives of powerful media figures, and I – and Tommy – still stand behind that story, and Jordan’s reporting, absolutely.”
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
Gawker CEO Nick Denton Releases Statement
Following Craggs and Read’s departure from Gawker, Denton released another statement, taking responsibility for the decision to take down the article, writing, “Let me be clear. This was a decision I made as Founder and Publisher – and guardian of the company mission – and the majority supported me in that decision.”
“This is the company I built. I was ashamed to have my name and Gawker’s associated with a story on the private life of a closeted gay man who some felt had done nothing to warrant the attention. We believe we were within our legal right to publish, but it defied the 2015 editorial mandate to do stories that inspire pride, and made impossible the jobs of those most committed to defending such journalism,” Denton added.
Denton also clarified Gawker’s mission, writing, “The company promotes truth and understanding through the pursuit of the real story – and supports, finances and defends such independent journalism. That is and remains its mission, and this story was in violation of it.”
Denton went on to state that the article would only serve as ammunition to those who already criticize Gawker as “tabloid trash” and called the publication of the article “an unprecedented misuse of the independence given to editorial.”