Vivek Shah: Do You Want to Be A Revenge Pornographer?
This is an open letter to Ziff Davis CEO Vivek Shah and a promise to all media proprietors currently looking at acquiring the disgusting revenge pornography website known as Gawker Media. I’m inviting Gamergate to join me in this boycott of any of the buyers of Gawker Media. You might remember Gamergate. The consumer boycott cost Gawker by its own admission over “seven figures” in ad revenues. Do you think it should add Ziff Davis and its advertisers to its boycott?
— TheMediaBriefing.com (@mediabrief) May 26, 2016
Why are you attempting to profit from revenge porn?
No seriously, why are you trying to acquire a company known for revenge-porn, body-shaming, and outing LGBT people? Were you picked on in high school? Did you watch “Boogie Nights” one too many times? Do you secretly yearn to be a porn producer, or are you the type who wants to passive-aggressively harass other people? Is it an Indian thing?
Honestly, I just want to understand your motivations. So does a considerable segment of the public. (If you’re of the public and want to make sure that this mission gets out I’ll earmark all the donations we receive to promoting this piece on Google Ads and Facebook ads.)
Your letter just does not cut it. Why act as a stalking horse when you could kill off your competition? There are lots of possible reasons to want to acquire Gawker Media but none of them are good.
Perhaps you were lied to about Gawker’s value. Nick Denton has, after all, been called out for lying about the value of Gawker by a federal judge. Why would he tell you the truth about its worth? He has repeatedly lied to investors, the general public, and his own staff. Contrary to what investment banker (and Clinton fundraiser) Mark Patricof may have told you Denton isn’t a “journalist at heart” but a sociopath. Denton once told the New Yorker flippantly that he is a pornographer. Why would you join him in that business? Journalists like Milo Yiannopoulos and writers like cartoonist Scott Adams have warned you and Ziff Davis of the brand damage that acquiring Gawker presents.
Hulk Hogan: "WHATCHOO GONNA DO WHEN HULKAMANIA RUNS WILD ON YOU, BROTHER??"
Nick Denton: "i'm going to declare bankruptcy"
— Pax Dickinson ♔ (@paxdickinson) August 1, 2016
You might defend yourself by saying that you are merely trying to acquire a competitor but why did you set the price at $90 million? That seems absurdly high in an era where media properties are shedding costs. Don’t get fooled. BuzzFeed and Vice have lost their shine to investors and are melting down.
My name is Charles C. Johnson. Although I am not a celebrity like Rebecca Gayheart, Anderson Cooper or Scarlett Johansson, or Vanessa Hudgens (whose underaged nudes Gawker gleefully and illegally published), I share something in common: I am one of many victims of Gawker’s well-documented harassment and cyber-bullying. You might have heard of me already. I am also a party to one of the lawsuits against Gawker Media. For all Denton’s talk about talking truth to power in his staff memo he made up a series of rumors against me and published them without checking with me. I asked him for a correction and then a meeting to talk it over. He ignored me so I sued Gawker. I didn’t win one of my suits so I filed another and it’s ongoing. It’s not just Peter Thiel who hates Gawker.
Today, for me, is a glorious day, one of the happiest days in my pretty joyful life. After all Nick Denton has filed for personal bankruptcy. It is tempting to feel pity for him but then my love of justice kicks in and I think about all the lives he’s destroyed. Victims of Gawker’s cyber-bullying have lost jobs and families. They have suffered the indignity of timeless search engine results of character-smearing falsities, as I have. Though Denton sadistically tried to break me he did not succeed. Others were not as fortunate. Like Ryan Holiday I have met the people who contemplated suicide because of nasty, nihilistic selfishly untrue things Denton and his staff wrote about them.
— Bunker ?? Smith (@bunkerwsmith) August 1, 2016
Nick Denton reminds me of Genrikh Yagoda, leader of the Soviet purge and Holodomor. Denton created a different type of gulag, a Google searchable one
Unlike Yagoda, Denton is lucky to be escaping jail time. For the moment. (We’re told that he has tax trouble. Yet another reason to buyer beware!)
Nevertheless a couple weeks ago Congress introduced the “Intimate Privacy Protection Act of 2015,” (IPPA) which would make the distribution of “nonconsensual pornography” a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. Facebook, Twitter and Google have expressed their support for the bill. You can read more about the bill here.
Many are referring to it as the ‘Gawker Bill.’ It is easy to understand why. Professor Stephen Carter of Yale University – a highly-respected constitutional law specialist – has detailed Gawker’s sordid history in an well-written editorial published by Bloomberg News titled “Gawker Almost Shocks Itself to Death.”
As the leading bidder on Gawker Media’s assets, your tacit approval of their actions is self-evident. But maybe you haven’t fully considered the ramifications, if this is made more public?
I realize you may not be fully aware of the baggage that comes along with your company’s involvement public association with Gawker Media. I don’t think anyone has issues with your company apart from this.
That’s why I am writing to give you this heads up: Anybody attempting to profit from or publicly associate with Gawker Media will be met with public outcry exposure and a hard look at the moral character of the individuals involved. This is not a First Amendment issue: this is a decency issue. Even if Gawker has the legal right to publish stolen sex tapes and photographs (a notion now infamously rejected by a Florida judge and jury) I suggest you encourage The Rubicon Project to weigh whatever value you think you may have in such associations against the damage to your brand that continued association will invariably bring. Cease representing Gawker immediately.
In short, anyone who wants to buy Gawker must be prepared to receive some ‘Gawker treatment’ themselves. Seems only fair, right? We’ll start with your advertisers.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and serious consideration.
Charles C. Johnson
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