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After a hor­ri­bly re­ceived ar­ti­cle is tak­en down, Gawker los­es its Editor in Chief Max Reid and their Executive ed­i­tor Tommy Craggs… but not for the rea­sons you might think. That’s right, the two most se­nior peo­ple on the Editorial side of Gawker are gone cit­ing dam­age to “Gawker’s ed­i­to­r­i­al in­tegri­ty” by the de­ci­sion to re­move an ar­ti­cle with­out their con­sul­ta­tion. Once you’re done rolling around on the floor laugh­ing at the con­cept of Gawker Media hav­ing ed­i­to­r­i­al Integrity, take a clos­er at this mess and you will see the many, many lay­ers of ut­ter fail­ure.

To un­der­stand these ac­tions we must first go back to the in­cit­ing in­ci­dent. On Friday Gawker put out an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Condé Nast’s CFO Tried To Pay $2,500 for a Night With a Gay Porn Star.” The eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of this, frankly dis­gust­ing, ar­ti­cle will be ex­plained in de­tail in a fu­ture ed­i­to­r­i­al, but for now the facts are that Gawker out­ed the CFO of a com­peti­tor me­dia com­pa­ny as al­leged­ly gay whilst also seem­ing­ly aid­ing in his black­mail. Gawker act­ing like… well Gawker is noth­ing new, but this post trig­gered a back­lash from fel­low “pro­gres­sive” tabloid blogs, their read­ers, as well as their long-time crit­ics.

Gawker took down the of­fend­ing ar­ti­cle the next day, with Nick Denton him­self cit­ing the rea­son it was re­moved not be­cause it was a base­less at­tack on a pri­vate in­di­vid­ual. It  just didn’t pass his “Is this in­ter­est­ing enough?” test. Gawker made an egre­gious­ly bad ar­ti­cle, then Gawker act­ed out of char­ac­ter and ac­tu­al­ly re­moved said ar­ti­cle amongst a shit-storm of back­lash from their usu­al­ly com­plic­it read­ers.  Case closed it seemed. Another chap­ter in the ex­ten­sive laun­dry list of their un­eth­i­cal prac­tices.

But noth­ing is sim­ple or even vague­ly com­pe­tent when it comes to Gawker Media. Turns out the ed­i­to­r­i­al staff were split about whether to take down the ar­ti­cle or not. You heard that right; many of them pas­sion­ate­ly de­fend­ed this mess and want­ed it to stay up feel­ing that it isn’t dis­sim­i­lar to Gawker’s usu­al out­put. Turns out that de­ci­sion was tak­en out of their hands and the busi­ness ex­ecs on the site hit the pan­ic but­ton and re­moved the gay-outing at­tack ar­ti­cle as it was rapid­ly tank­ing what was left of their brand im­age. Gawker’s ed­i­to­r­i­al felt wound­ed and put out this state­ment con­demn­ing the re­moval in the strongest pos­si­ble terms, as it is a breach of the ed­i­to­r­i­al fire­wall.

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So we have an at­tempt to clean up a mess lead­ing to a big­ger in­ter­nal mess for Gawker. That seems to be what has spurred on today’s de­ci­sion. These two ed­i­tors have not quit be­cause of the in­cred­i­bly un­eth­i­cal con­duct of the site and shame­ful be­hav­ior rou­tine­ly ex­hib­it­ed by their writ­ers — that seems to have been all en­cour­aged un­der their tenure. No, the rea­son they have quit is be­cause Nick Denton and the non-editorial side of Gawker Media went over their heads and tried to steady the ship.

The res­ig­na­tion state­ments them­selves make amaz­ing read­ing, with Executive ed­i­tor Tommy Craggs flat-out say­ing “I stand by the post” and Max Read go­ing into more de­tail writ­ing “a post was delet­ed from Gawker over the stren­u­ous ob­jec­tions of Tommy and my­self, as well as the en­tire staff of ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tors.” Gawker’s ed­i­tors seem in­cred­u­lous their blank-check to print what­ev­er they pleased and of­ten cost the com­pa­ny mon­ey in the process. Its frankly in­cred­i­ble read­ing that two men chose an ar­ti­cle (that by all de­cent mea­sures should re­sult in a law­suit) as their hill to die on. This is a tes­ta­ment to rot­ten ed­i­to­r­i­al po­lices in place through­out Gawker’s now rapid­ly crum­bling me­dia em­pire.

Gawker’s tail­spin is still de­vel­op­ing but this lat­est up­heaval must sure­ly sig­nal a seis­mic change at the tabloid blog.

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John Sweeney
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.