Site under fire for ‘outing’ exec: Gawker Out CFO

Published: July 17, 2015

Site under fire for ‘outing’ exec: Gawker Out CFO, Gawker drew heavy criticism Friday from online readers after the news and gossip site ran a story about the CFO of Conde Nast allegedly soliciting sex from a gay porn star.

David Geithner, a married father of three and brother of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, denied the allegations.

Gawker nevertheless reported that Geithner planned to go to Chicago to meet a gay porn star and escort and was prepared to pay $2,500 for the encounter. David Geithner cancelled the meet-up after the escort tried to get him to use his political connections to help with a housing dispute. Previously, the anonymous escort had asked Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for help with his housing dispute, the online article said.

In a text to Gawker, David Geithner said he had no knowledge of the individual and said “this is a shakedown.”

The escort’s story, told to Gawker writer Jordan Sargent after the escort was rebuffed, drew a torrent of criticism on Gawker’s Facebook page and Twitter. The story itself was intermittently unavailable on the site. Some critics shared it via so that people interested in the issue didn’t need to send traffic to Gawker.

Among the comments:

Journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted: “I’m a fan of Gawker & several of its journalists, but that article is reprehensible beyond belief: it’s deranged to publish that.”

Re/Code co-executive editor Kara Swisher tweeted: “An appalling act of gay shaming disguised as a story — thought we were way past this crap.”

I’m a fan of Gawker & several of its journalists, but that article is reprehensible beyond belief: it’s deranged to publish that.

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 17, 2015
Gawker senior writer Adam Weinstein tweeted: “I had no part in this. I would not have chosen to run it as is.”

Readers pointed out that publicizing Geithner’s possible sexual orientation did nothing for the public good: he’s not a public official or political candidate who has advocated against gay rights, for instance.

“This guy is not an antigay politician whose hypocrisy needs to be outed. Why would anyone care if he wants to hire an escort?” wrote reader Mike Johnson of Los Angeles on Gawker’s Facebook page.

I had no part in this. I would not have chosen to run it as is.

— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) July 17, 2015
Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read responded: “given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies f**cking around on their wives.”

Natasha Vargas-Cooper, senior reporter for Gawker affiliate Jezebel, also defended its publication. “Stories don’t need an upside. Not everyone has to feel good about the truth. If it’s true, you publish.”

Gawker’s motto is “Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news”.

Some irate readers suggested the outrage be directed at Gawker’s advertisers.

@reason We need to hit them where it hurts. Contact Gawker’s advertisers here:

— Best Mom Eva (@mombot) July 17, 2015
As of early Friday, “Gawker” was the second most popular term on Twitter in the U.S.

The online furor comes amid a fresh debate about the line between free expression on the Internet, and curbing harmful and hateful treatment of individuals online. Reddit’s new CEO told readers this week that the site was never meant to be a bastion of free speech, a direct response to complaints from the site’s users after ex-CEO Ellen Pao curbed some hate speech on the site.

Meanwhile, the public transformation of Caitlyn Jenner as a woman has brought discussion of transgender and gay issues to the forefront of mainstream media.

Site under fire for 'outing' exec: Gawker Out CFO


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