Gawker Media lives for the pigpile of right-thinking journalists on its shadier scoops—at its best, in Nick Denton’s view, the company gives its writers permission to get stories that other outlets are too prudish or timid or rigidly ethical to publish. Then the other outlets can pick up the story about the story, telling the story in the process. Everybody wins, except
Yesterday was not Gawker at its best. When
are both disgusted by you, it’s safe to conclude you did something disgusting. In exchange for some cash, a dude gave them an anonymous account of how one Halloween a while ago, Christine O’Donnell had a bunch of beers with him and—seriously, it’s not even worth the effort to paraphrase or quote. (Or link. Google it if you care.) Nothing happened. The headline called it a “One-Night Stand,” which was untrue. Anyone interested in prurient coverage of Christine O’Donnell has
, better sourced.
The winning Gawker scoops are the stories other outlets wished they could get away with doing. Deadspin’s Favre story was smutty and obtained by unsavory means, but once it was out there, it was a real subject for everyone else. Today, the Post and the Daily News are
for their covers; the Times put David Carr
, but not for the print edition. This one wasn’t wrong because Gawker paid off a source. It was wrong because there was no payoff for the reader. If you want to convince people it’s fun to wallow, you’d better at least supply some mud.