The reboot of Gawker has hit a snag, with its only two full-time writers quitting over what they said was objectionable behavior and comments from their boss at the gossip site.
Editorial director Carson Griffith allegedly made offensive remarks about poor people, black writers and the penis size of one of her acquaintances, according to the two reporters who quit.
Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw — the only two full-time journalists to join the site since its predecessor was forced to shutter in 2014 after founder Nick Denton lost a defamation suit from Hulk Hogan — claimed in a written statement that they had voiced concerns in vain about Griffith’s remarks to HR, which failed to take action.
In one alleged incident Kosoff described to human resources, Griffith forwarded an unsolicited chain e-mail showing the editorial director’s friends boasting they knew the penis size of a prominent businessman.
“We’re disappointed it ended this way, but we can’t continue to work under someone who is antithetical to our sensibility and journalistic ethics, or for an employer who refuses to listen to the women who work for him when it’s inconvenient,” Kosoff and Breslaw said in a statement to the Daily Beast.
The employer in question is Bryan Golberg, CEO of Bustle Digital Group, who bought the name of the controversial Web site and its archives out of bankruptcy in mid-2018 for $1.35 million and pledged to make a new start.
The departing writers said the difficulties increased when they learned of recently unearthed comments, purportedly made by Griffith, using anti-gay slurs and making derogatory comments about Asians and celebrities deemed to be overweight on a site called Splinter.
In one instance, they said that Griffith said it would be difficult to hire writers of color because they preferred to write stories only about race.
“It grew increasingly difficult for Maya to pitch writers and editors on the job and she no longer felt she could recruit people to work under Carson in good faith,” the Kosoff-Breslaw statement read.
They said they refused Bustle Media Group’s offer to move them to other Web sites at the company and turned down a severance package that would have included a non-disparagement agreement.
A Gawker spokesperson told the Daily Beast, “We take all claims seriously and will continue to review.”
The site was forced to close in 2014 after it lost a defamation suit brought by Terry Bollea, a pro wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, for airing a controversial sex tape on the site.
The Hulk Hogan suit was funded by Silicon Valley mogul Peter Thiel, who had long despised Gawker and its founder Nick Denton for stories that appeared on the old version of the site about Thiel’s sexual orientation.
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