Don’t Just Stand there Gawking, Do Something! A Guide to Ending Gawker

The past week has been an event filled one for critics of Gawker Media. John is here to assess the damage and offer advice on proper consumer advocacy

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On July 16th, 2015 Gawker pub­lished an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Condé Nast’s CFO Tried To Pay $2,500 for a Night With a Gay Porn Star” that out­ed the CFO of com­pet­ing me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion Condé Nast as al­leged­ly gay. What is more con­cern­ing is that they ap­peared to have worked with, and aid­ed, a black­mail­er in ob­tain­ing the sto­ry. This is an ex­am­ple of an ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly un­eth­i­cal move by Gawker Media and — touched on when re­port­ing Max Reads and Tommy Craggs res­ig­na­tions — re­sult­ed in one of the most high-profile and uni­fied back­lash against a pub­li­ca­tion in re­cent memory.

At every turn the ar­ti­cle was a train wreck; with each in­di­vid­ual el­e­ment alone be­ing cause enough for any­one with a bit of sense or a set of stan­dards to pull the ar­ti­cle, or at least han­dle it dif­fer­ent­ly. In fact, I think it breaks a ma­jor­i­ty of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and has even been de­nounced by the pres­i­dent of the SPJ (EiC Note: Though they could have done well to call out the his­tor­i­cal in­stances of Gawker be­ing a bane of stan­dards as well. The SPJ call-out feels like an op­por­tunis­tic PR move to this SPJ mem­ber). It’s also served as glar­ing em­bar­rass­ment to all those say­ing eth­i­cal con­cerns raised over Gawker Media and oth­er out­lets were un­jus­ti­fied or overblown.

Another Day at the Office

Nothing changed in the Gakwer news­room the day the of­fend­ing post was pub­lished. This isn’t some ab­hor­rent event and freak lapse of judge­ment. This is busi­ness as usu­al. To quote Executive Editor for Investigations at Gawker Media, John Cook:

John Cook Insert

He’s one hun­dred per­cent right to be con­fused and an­gry about why this was tak­en down, this has al­ways been the real meat of Gawker’s reg­u­lar out­put. From the per­spec­tive of long-time crit­ics, this isn’t very sur­pris­ing and it seems that view is held in­ter­nal­ly as well. This is in-line with Gawker’s ed­i­to­r­i­al prac­tices, this is the me­dia stan­dards it sup­ports and has up­held for years. We have peo­ple com­ing out and ad­mit­ting it and yet peo­ple are still cling­ing to this idea that there is not a sys­temic eth­i­cal prob­lem with the en­tire­ty of Gawker Media.

This is the site that is re­spon­si­ble for:

I don’t know how much more clear-cut of a pic­ture you can get, I’m run­ning out of ad­jec­tives to de­scribe the com­plete lack of ba­sic hu­man­i­ty at Gawker Media. It is ab­surd this is one of the few in­ci­dents their read­er­ship and fel­low jour­nal­ists are call­ing out. Richard Lawson, the writer of the afore­men­tioned James Franco ar­ti­cle, ad­mit­ted the push of the year­long out­ing camp­ing came from the boss­es at Gawker Media.

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Whist we’re at it, let’s have a brief look at where Gawker’s po­lices have land­ed them today: 

  • They are cur­rent­ly in a high-profile law­suit by for­mer wrestling star Hulk Hogan for ob­tain­ing, then re­fus­ing to take down, a sex-tape record­ed and re­leased with­out his knowl­edge or permission.
  • They are cur­rent­ly em­broiled in a bit­ter union­iza­tion dis­pute with their own staff that also has its own tale to tell in this lat­est chapter.
  • They are also be­ing sued by their un­paid in­terns, in which Gawker claims they have the right to es­sen­tial­ly en­act a lev­el of slave labor.
  • They lost many ad­ver­tis­ers and a sev­en fig­ure sum due to Sam Biddle’s state­ment that “nerds should be con­stant­ly shamed and de­grad­ed into sub­mis­sion” and to “Bring Back Bullying” with ed­i­tor Max Reid stand­ing firm­ly be­hind his comments.

Breaching the Editorial Firewall

There is an­oth­er twist to this tale. This is a multi-layered fail­ure, where even at­tempts to cor­rect mis­takes lead into fur­ther mis­takes. Hours af­ter the piece was tak­en down by Nick Denton and Gawker Media man­age­ment, Gawker’s Editorial staff is­sued this statement:


I’m not a PR agent, but wouldn’t it be pru­dent to at least pre­tend that the Editorial staff was not back­ing the ar­ti­cle? The ed­i­to­r­i­al fire­wall is meant to stop neg­a­tive in­fer­ence from the busi­ness and ad­ver­tis­ing arms of a web­site ef­fect­ing the ed­i­to­r­i­al and pub­lish­ing sec­tion. Generally it is as­sumed that in­de­pen­dent ed­i­to­r­i­al leads to bet­ter stan­dards and that pres­sure from fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests could lead to un­eth­i­cal con­flicts and pan­der­ing to mon­eyed in­ter­ests. I’ve rarely heard of a sit­u­a­tion where ed­i­to­r­i­al be­ing over­ruled was so uni­ver­sal­ly seen as a good de­ci­sion. But in­stead of look­ing in­ward at the ob­vi­ous rot that had set in with­in Gawker’s news­room, there was a flur­ry of rash ac­tions and bruised egos.  It seems the one thing can cause a Gawker jour­nal­ist to sud­den­ly de­vel­op an in­ter­est in eth­i­cal in­tegri­ty is when you sug­gest they might be fallible.

As events have un­fold­ed it has be­come clear just how strong­ly the ed­i­to­r­i­al staff felt this was a stan­dard of jour­nal­ism worth de­fend­ing. As we re­port­ed on, Gawker has lost two of its se­nior ed­i­tors, de­part­ing not be­cause they felt the uni­ver­sal­ly re­viled ar­ti­cle had caused too much dam­age but be­cause some­one had dared to over­rule them.

Other parts of the me­dia have tak­en the op­por­tu­ni­ty to pile-in, smelling blood in the wa­ter. The Hollywood Reporter even went as far as to com­ment on the fu­ture em­ploy­a­bil­i­ty of Gawker’s staff with the sleazy and shame­less con­tent of their by-lines:

I can hard­ly imag­ine who might hire some­one from Gawker, or who would not re­coil at the cru­el­ty, ob­scen­i­ty and lo­g­or­rhea of a Gawker writer’s clips. Gawker staffers need­ed a union to pro­tect the only job they might ever have in jour­nal­ism. (em­pha­sis added) They were per­haps pro­tect­ing too their right to cru­el­ty and ob­scen­i­ty and to be unedit­ed, now ex­pressed in the bru­tal ex­po­sure of the pri­vate, un­ex­cep­tion­al, if sala­cious de­tails of a quite un­pub­lic man’s life far from the pub­lic in­ter­est.” –

This state­ment pre­dates the Read’s and Cragg’s res­ig­na­tions, but I can’t help but think who in their right mind would take on a pair of ed­i­tors who had fall­en on their swords de­fend­ing Gawker’s prac­tices. With con­tent that have re­port­ed­ly caused two very large ad­ver­tis­ers, Discover and BFGoodrich, to sus­pend or can­cel cam­paigns on the with Gawker Media. We may only be see­ing the tip of the fi­nan­cial ice­berg here. There was also a sting in the tail for Sam “Seven Figures” Biddle, as it emerged one of the Gawker part­ners and their head of ad­ver­tis­ing had flat­ly asked Read why Biddle hadn’t been fired yet for his ill-advised comments.

The New York Observer went even fur­ther, with a state­ment that can only be de­scribed as the ed­i­to­r­i­al equiv­a­lent of an un­lu­bri­cat­ed fisting:

Hypocrisy is too weak a word when it comes to Gawker. It is in­stead an in­dis­putable pat­tern of mal­ice and men­dac­i­ty al­most with­out par­al­lel in the his­to­ry of me­dia. It is es­sen­tial­ly a twelve-year spree of de­struc­tion, pain and waste. The sole pur­pose of the en­tire re­pug­nant ed­i­fice has been to make a sin­gle own­er fab­u­lous­ly rich and a re­volv­ing door of mediocre writ­ers feel im­por­tant and pow­er­ful.” –

Jesus, leave some for the rest of us.

Whilst these kind words are en­cour­ag­ing, it can’t help but feel a lit­tle op­por­tunis­tic. It is now seen as “safe” to go af­ter Gawker; pre­vi­ous­ly silent jour­nal­ists are falling over them­selves to kick Gawker now it is safe­ly down. Perhaps if some of this spine had been lo­cat­ed ear­li­er we could have pre­vent­ed some of the an­guish their un­eth­i­cal — and some­times down­right in­hu­man — con­duct has caused? Not that I’m de­vel­op­ing some sym­pa­thy for the tabloid rag sud­den­ly. Quite to the con­trary, my words of ad­vice to the me­dia would be “pile in faster and kick hard­er” but don’t for­get to learn some lessons in the process. Gawker has been very in­flu­en­tial and their dra­mat­ic down­ward spi­ral needs to be a wake-up call for all their im­i­ta­tors and cheerleaders.

The Gawkeratzi

Fact is, Gawker is not unique. The “stan­dards” they push are ac­tu­al­ly pret­ty typ­i­cal.  It’s part of a wider land­scape of press that have used pol­i­tics and di­vi­sion as a shield for their un­eth­i­cal be­hav­iour — pub­li­ca­tions I mock­ing­ly re­fer to as “The Gawkeratzi.” We live in a world were Salon can jus­ti­fy vi­o­lent loot­ing as a valid form of po­lit­i­cal ex­pres­sion whilst shops are still burn­ing but also put out ar­ti­cles blan­ket la­bel­ing peo­ple who are gamers as “Terrorists” when they want to hold the Gawkeratzi to ac­count. The Verge can de­lib­er­ate­ly whip-up a mob to at­tack a man who just land­ed the first probe on a comet for the pat­tern on his shirt and agen­da sites like The Mary Sue and fel­low Gawker sewer-pipe Jezebel at­tack who­ev­er they please on an al­most week­ly ba­sis. For any of the mod­ern rage-bait me­dia to take the moral high-ground over Gawker is laugh­able, es­pe­cial­ly af­ter they were com­plic­it in at­tempt­ing to pro­tect Gawker and their prac­tices previously.

salon insert

We’ve seen the bar pro­gres­sive­ly low­ered and stan­dards slow­ly erod­ed so far that an ac­tion caus­ing ad­ver­tis­ers to say “enough is enough” has to be be­yond ex­treme. Gawker is be­ing sued from all an­gles, boy­cotted by large sec­tions of the in­ter­net and has made ma­jor gaff af­ter ma­jor gaff. Yet many ad­ver­tis­ers, baf­fling­ly, still re­main. Editors and CEOs seemed OK with stan­dards be­ing brought down as long as the clicks kept rolling in, but how long can this degra­da­tion and free-fall re­al­ly con­tin­ue? I can’t see big brands with large le­gal de­part­ments and a care­ful­ly craft­ed im­age want­i­ng to be seen next to a blog post writ­ten by an un­paid in­tern glee­ful­ly shar­ing acts of black­mail and li­bel. Online me­dia is in a dire state, yet there have been very few suc­cess­ful or last­ing at­tempts to make it re­form from ei­ther con­sumers or ad­ver­tis­ers; as long as it still pays then these sites will keep do­ing what they do. If you want any lev­el of change then you have to make sure be­ing high­ly un­eth­i­cal is also high­ly unprofitable.

The Blueprint Already Exists

Something else quite ex­tra­or­di­nary also hap­pened: Mainstream me­dia out­lets like USA Today be­gan to re­port on the GamerGate and their boy­cott list for what it was: an at­tempt to hold an un­ac­count­able me­dia cor­po­ra­tion to ac­count via con­tact­ing ad­ver­tis­ers, a tac­tic that many of those who were now an­gry at Gawker me­dia had be­gun sug­gest­ing. (Editor’s Note: I feel it im­por­tant to men­tion that con­tact­ing ad­ver­tis­ers of out­lets that peo­ple have dis­putes with has long been a valid tac­tic of con­sumer ad­vo­ca­cy groups over the years.)

The on­line dis­cus­sion drew in some crit­ics of Gawker and its af­fil­i­ates from a past is­sue — its in­volve­ment in a long-running on­line con­tro­ver­sy over the treat­ment of women in gam­ing, and video-game jour­nal­ism, that’s loose­ly re­ferred to as #gamer­gate. The Twitter ac­count that ad­vo­cat­ed tar­get­ing Gawker’s ad­ver­tis­ers linked to a web­site, “,” whose sup­port­ers ad­vo­cate tar­get­ing the ad­ver­tis­ers of Gawker and oth­er blogs.” –

Its pret­ty amaz­ing for USA Today to men­tion GamerGate as a con­sumer boy­cott cam­paign with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on Gawker Media, with the im­plied burn that Gawker and those on the GamerGate’s boy­cott list are sim­ply “blogs.” Operation Baby Seal turned out to be a use­ful ready-made re­source for all those now call­ing for change at Gawker Media, even when some of those peo­ple had called these same boy­cott ef­forts “at­tempts to si­lence writ­ers” mere months ago. As for GamerGate it­self, the state­ment by one of their se­nior writ­ers, Adam Weinstein, should give you some in­di­ca­tion of just how in­cred­i­bly fu­ri­ous Gawker is about the con­sumer boy­cott that re­port­ed­ly cost them up­wards of sev­en fig­ures and caused nu­mer­ous ad­ver­tis­er sus­pen­sions and pull-outs.


This state­ment it­self is al­most hu­mor­ous in its anger and de­flec­tion; here is a pub­li­ca­tion that has just put out some­thing even its staunchest de­fend­ers call “re­pug­nant,” yet their writ­ers and staff are do­ing the equiv­a­lent of throw­ing them­selves on the floor and hav­ing a very pub­lic tear-stained tantrum. The Gawker  flair for be­ing an un­apolo­get­i­cal­ly re­pul­sive hu­man be­ings is as present as ever, even in their mo­ments of sup­posed con­tri­tion. A man who is paid to write for a liv­ing wrote that inane screed, as his site was in the midst of be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dis­avowed by the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of the in­ter­net. Even as an am­a­teur writer, I am ashamed it ex­ists. After the bat­ter­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­ceived, the as­ser­tion that “Gawker is not that bad” (Emphasis added by Editor) seems to be the best de­fense he could muster.

You can’t have any ef­fect on a me­dia em­pire by im­po­tent fist-shaking alone, in this lat­est spasm I don’t think there has even been an at­tempt to grasp that Gawker is a Network. That’s one of the only ways the GamerGate cam­paign was able to gain any trac­tion at all: they re­al­ized that sim­ply go­ing af­ter one arm of an or­ga­ni­za­tion is fruit­less when it can keep mak­ing mon­ey us­ing the same ed­i­to­r­i­al prac­tices else­where. Gawker isn’t just Gawker. It’s Jezebel, Gizmodo, Deadspin, io9 and Lifehacker; all of these sites feed into the same pot of mon­ey that en­ables the stan­dard of jour­nal­ism we see in them to­day. If you tru­ly want to hit Gawker in the wal­let then con­sid­er these tac­tics that have al­ready proven effective:

SIDE CLICKSRemove Clicks
: In the past, sites like Gawker ben­e­fit­ed great­ly from “rage clicks.” People shar­ing and click­ing on ar­ti­cles that were open­ly de­signed to cause con­tro­ver­sy and dis­ap­proval. Gawker is al­most proud of the fact that as long as the clicks keep com­ing in it does no mat­ter if peo­ple are click­ing on the con­tent be­cause they like it or be­cause they hate it. Those an­gry at Gawker in the past have been in­ad­ver­tent­ly fu­el­ing their suc­cess by fun­nel­ing traf­fic to the site.

Archiving us­ing is a way of shar­ing a snap­shot of a page host­ed else­where. This al­lows peo­ple to share, analyse and draw at­ten­tion to ar­ti­cles they find un­ac­cept­able with­out giv­ing are more clicks to a site. Archiving has been one of the cor­ner­stones of the GamerGate re­volt, with brows­er ex­ten­sions like “GG Blocker” used to au­to­mat­i­cal­ly dis­play archived ver­sions of cer­tain sites on the boy­cott list.

This prac­tice re­moves an in­cen­tive for web­sites to de­lib­er­ate­ly print in­flam­ma­to­ry ar­ti­cles and is also a good way to track­ing any al­ter­ations or dele­tions. With the in­ter­net is for­ev­er, and any in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence can be re­tained and put in front of sponsors.

Contact Advertisers and Ad Networks: This isn’t just as sim­ple as ex­press­ing dis­plea­sure in a gen­er­al sense to com­pa­nies you see ap­pear­ing in side­bar ads, you need to show the ad­ver­tis­er that this con­tent is ap­pear­ing next to their brand. Modern web­sites have to use mul­ti­ple ways of ad­ver­tis­ing to sur­vive, so some com­pa­nies will not be ad­ver­tis­ing di­rect­ly with the site in ques­tion and may not be aware their ads are be­ing dis­played on the of­fend­ing pages. In this way, con­tact­ing ad­ver­tis­ers is ex­treme­ly worth­while since many may not be aware of the con­tent un­til they are informed.

Since ad­ver­tise­ments are sold via net­works, it is also worth look­ing up the terms and con­di­tions that net­works make sites sign up to. We know Gawker has bro­ken Google Adsense poli­cies on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions but has thus far not had puni­tive ac­tion tak­en. Getting ad-tech to pull out of a web­site is a big deal as it re­moves a huge chunk of rev­enue and mul­ti­ple po­ten­tial ad­ver­tis­ers at once.

Advertisers have be­come more and more de­sen­si­tized to con­tent they would pre­vi­ous­ly find ob­jec­tion­able, en­sure you make it clear why this con­tent dam­ages their brand. For ex­am­ple, GamerGate got ad­ver­tis­ers who want­ed to ap­peal to gamers to pull out by telling them the con­tent was anti-gamer and ac­tive­ly put them off.

Maintain Public Pressure: It’s easy for ad­ver­tis­ers to ig­nore a sin­gle flur­ry of at­ten­tion, but a sus­tained pe­ri­od of re­peat­ed com­plaints will make the is­sue hard­er to ig­nore. Advertisers don’t like the neg­a­tive at­ten­tion pub­lic pull-outs cause and so many may sim­ply qui­et­ly not re­new their con­tracts. The key is to be de­ter­mined and dig-in for the long-haul. Make ap­peals on places as­so­ci­at­ed with the ad­ver­tis­ers brand like their Facebook or YouTube pages. It might seem tacky but by virtue of be­ing a sheer nui­sance you can get com­plaints addressed.

The boy­cott prac­tices of GamerGate have al­ready be­gun to seep into the main­stream body of peo­ple dis­gust­ed with Gawker’s ac­tions. Watching peo­ple share Gawker’s links us­ing and be­gin­ning to con­tact ad­ver­tis­ers was an en­cour­ag­ing sight to be­hold. Whether they re­al­ize they re­al­ize it or not, these peo­ple are build­ing on the suc­cess­ful tac­tics of Operation Disrespectful Nod and Operation Baby Seal, tac­tics some peo­ple pre­vi­ous­ly at­tacked. Activities pre­vi­ous­ly smeared by a des­per­ate me­dia, led most­ly by Gawker Media, are not ris­ing to the sur­face as best prac­tice. GamerGate seems to have had an ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­fect on build­ing a tem­plate for boy­cotts of new media.

The Ugly, Gawking Masses

Gawker’s biggest mis­take in this in­stance was not go­ing af­ter some­one its au­di­ence felt was a “valid tar­get.” They cooked up their usu­al recipe of sleaze and pub­lic sham­ing, but this time it in­volved out­ing an al­leged­ly gay man. For their pro­gres­sive al­lies this was a step too far. Their au­di­ence is an­gry most­ly for the vi­o­la­tion of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, not the ba­sic fail­ure to ad­here to any kind of eth­i­cal con­duct in their quite com­mon at­tack ar­ti­cles. The out­ting of a gay man is just the ic­ing on the cake. Their read­ers have been ful­ly com­plic­it in Gawker’s past ac­tions; their au­di­ence are the ones who have cheered on in­creas­ing­ly de­plorable con­duct as long as Gawker was able to paint their tar­gets as car­toon­ish “anti-progressive” villains.

insert hipsters

Us vs Them” is the core of how Gawker gets away with gra­tu­itous hit-pieces on pub­lic fig­ures and those they pluck out of ob­scu­ri­ty to pub­li­cal­ly shame. If this had sim­ply been a base­less ac­cu­sa­tion that a com­peti­tor had tried to hire a pros­ti­tute, then it would have gone by un­no­ticed. It would still be whol­ly un­eth­i­cal, but the read­er­ship wouldn’t have bat­ted an eye­lid. It seems the mis­cal­cu­la­tion was a po­lit­i­cal one, their usu­al thin ve­neer and pan­der­ing to the bi­as­es of the read­er­ship were not present in this ar­ti­cle and so their read­er­ship was jolt­ed into see­ing the full hor­ror of what Gawker ac­tu­al­ly puts out.

As Nick Denton stat­ed in his e‑mail, he thinks Jordan Sargent “Did noth­ing wrong” only that “Times have changed.” The pol­i­cy of “No bad tac­tics, only bad tar­gets” es­poused by the washed-up in­ter­net crit­ics of this world seems to be a good sum­ma­tion of how the me­dia, and the “ac­tivists” they lead around by the nose, op­er­ate. Gawker is as vi­cious, spite­ful and sala­cious as ever but it keeps its fans hap­py by slight­ly ad­just­ing its tar­gets as the doc­trine of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness shifts. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that David Geithner is a hu­man be­ing who has been sub­ject­ed to an ex­treme lev­el of me­dia slan­der and sham­ing, which is prob­a­bly a very strong case for le­gal ac­tion, de­spite not pre­vi­ous­ly be­ing a pub­lic fig­ure of any note and de­spite these claims be­ing far from proven. If some of the el­e­ments of the sto­ry had been dif­fer­ent, he would be just be an­oth­er in the long line of peo­ple whose life had been ad­verse­ly ef­fect­ed for no real gain by Gawker.

insert sewer

Despite the un­fold­ing train-wreck of de­part­ing staff, it feels like the de­press­ing truth is that many of those who ob­ject­ed to Gawker’s ar­ti­cle on David Geithner are al­ready los­ing steam and fail­ing to con­vert their out­rage into any­thing last­ing or pro­duc­tive. Simply recog­nis­ing on­line jour­nal­ism is rot­ten is just the first step. The mem­o­ry of this short spasm of out­rage is al­ready fad­ing, they are an­gry at Gawker to­day but will be an­gry along­side Gawker again to­mor­row — latch­ing onto what­ev­er Jezebel or Kotaku tells them should be the tar­get of their two-minutes of hate. I be­lieve these peo­ple care, I re­al­ly do. I just think they lack the or­ga­ni­za­tion and the will to do any­thing about it be­yond be­ing mild­ly en­raged for a day or two.

Gawker won’t go away un­less you make it go away. “This thing sucks” is just a state­ment, if you want change any­thing then you have to build into a force that can­not be ig­nored.  You may also have to make peace with the fact that go­ing af­ter the me­dia means the me­dia will use all their dirty tricks to make you look evil and dis­cred­it­ed. Some are sit­ting back and ex­pect­ing Gawker to crum­ble in the face of this cluster-fuck, but you can’t count on that. Now is the per­fect time to ap­ply as much pres­sure as pos­si­ble. This is a rare op­por­tu­ni­ty to crys­tal­lize uni­ver­sal dis­ap­proval into real, tan­gi­ble im­prove­ments to on­line jour­nal­ism. I sug­gest we take it.

(EDIT: July 22 2105 (21:14 EST): J.K. Trotter cor­rect­ed to Jordan Sargent.) 

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
John Sweeney is a ter­ri­bly British man with a back­ground in en­gi­neer­ing. He writes long-form ed­i­to­r­i­al con­tent with analy­sis of gam­ing, games me­dia and in­ter­net cul­ture. He also does the oc­ca­sion­al video game ret­ro­spec­tive with a week­ly col­umn about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good mea­sure. He also does most of our in­ter­views for some rea­son, we have no idea why. A staunch sup­port­er of free speech and con­sumer rights; skep­ti­cal of agen­da dri­ven me­dia and sus­pi­cious of un­ac­cou­table au­thor­i­ty but al­ways hope­ful for change.