"Gawker.com is shutting down today, Monday 22nd August, 2016, some 13 years after it began and two days before the end of my forties. It is the end of an era... It was a matter of pride that Gawker ran stories that could not be published elsewhere." (Nick Denton/Gawker)
According to Nick Denton, Gawker writers, and others, Gawker was murdered. Murdered in a most heinous way. Shot down in the street, dismembered into bloody pieces of skin, gristle, and bone, placed in garbage bags, and left in a dumpster.
The alleged murderer? The fiend who fired the bullets and butchered the body? Peter Thiel, a billionaire. One of those 1%'ers we are supposed to revile and despise because they are successful.
Nick Denton, his stable of writers, and editors, are delusional. They keep putting out the murder trope while ignoring the court's legal ruling in the Hulk Hogan lawsuit against the media company. A judge ruled Hogan was entitled to 140 million dollars in damages. The ruling was upheld on appeal, another issue the cult of Gawker and Mr. Denton ignore.
They blame Thiel, Hogan's home state advantage, gremlins, orcs, and other evil enemies for the demise of Denton's empire.
Gawker was not murdered. Peter Thiel did not cause its demise. Hulk Hogan did not set up the hit to whack Gawker.
Gawker committed suicide. Public suicide. It leaped off a tall building in a single bound, splattering itself all over the pavement below.
Unlike TMZ and the National Enquirer, for example, Gawker apparently did not filter the Hogan sex tape story through their legal team. The aforementioned publications, as well as responsible news agencies, have sordid or salacious stories vetted by the lawyers before publication.
If, by chance, the story was vetted, then Gawker's attorneys should be disbarred for reckless negligence and wanton incompetence.
Worse, Denton and his team, especially, A.J. Daulerio, did not take the legal action and trial seriously. They treated it as a joke. If there is one thing you should learn, courtrooms are not stand up comedy clubs. Flippant, snarky remarks and a cavalier attitude are frowned upon.
After the verdict and appeal, Denton and Company poured gasoline on the fire they created. Instead of accepting the ruling, they went on a scorched earth crusade defaming all involved, including the legal and judicial systems.
Why they expected any sympathy or empathy instead of scorn, is a mystery only they can solve.
Gawker took freedom of the press, speech, and expression to a place where no one should go. They did not stretch the envelope, they shredded it. Gawker was reckless, feckless, and irresponsible. The insane puerile teenagers in the locker room were running the asylum.
Gawker was like a bathroom wall of profanity, obscenity, vulgarity, and sordidness. Denton described his writers as fearless. There is a fine line between being fearless and reckless.
There is an old aviation adage; "There are bold pilots and there are old pilots. There are no old bold pilots." The adage fits Denton and his band of puerile pranksters to a tee.
From all appearances and some media reports, no one was managing Gawker's writers. They published what they wanted, in any manner they chose, with no oversight or editorial guidance.
It was never a question of if Gawker crashed and splattered itself on the pavement. It was only a question of when.
Nick Denton built a worthy media empire with sites like Gizmodo, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Kotaku, and Jezebel. He lost it all by putting Gawker on auto-pilot and letting it run amok.
Univison acquired Gawker Media at auction for 135 million dollars. Gawker shut down, though the archives will remain on the web for an undetermined time.
There should be no elegies, paeans, or eulogy for Gawker or Nick Denton. They were not victims of Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, or the Florida court system. They were victims of their own success. A success based on careless reckless behavior with no one responsible at the helm.
There are no free speech, expression, and press issues in Gawker's demise. There are only behavioral issues. Gawker crossed the line of bad behavior in the media world one too many times. They were responsible and accountable to no one. Irresponsibility and lack of accountability were its downfall. Along with Denton's apparent taking his eye off the ball.
Nick Denton is a brilliant person. He can bounce back. But, before he can be taken seriously again, he must substitute is inscrutable hubris for humility. He must finally accept the fact he was wrong. He must demonstrate remorse, redemption, and rehabilitation. If not, he can take what is left of his fortune to find a place to live on the trash heap of history.
Gawker was not murdered. Gawker committed suicide.
It was long overdue.
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