Gawker Editors Quit, Saying Advertiser Pressure Led to Controversial Post Being Pulled

Tommy Craggs, Max Read resign

This morning, Tommy Craggs, executive editor at Gawker Media, and the website's editor in chief, Max Read, resigned from their posts over the decision to remove a controversial story about a high-ranking Condé Nast executive.

The resignations are the latest fallout in a tumultuous 72 hours for the company. Shortly after the website ran a story Thursday night claiming the married executive tried to solicit a male escort, the media company immediately was hit with backlash online.

This eventually led to a 5-2 vote Friday morning among the managing partners—including those on the business side of the company and founder Nick Denton—to remove the post from the site. That move angered the editorial staff, who described it as an "unprecedented breach of the firewall" between business and editorial.

In a memo to editorial staff this morning, Craggs explained his decision to step down and argued the reason the post was taken down in the first place was because of advertiser pressure. "The article … had become radioactive," he said. "Advertisers such as Discover and BFGoodrich were either putting holds on their campaigns or pulling out entirely."

Read offered a similar reason for his resignation, stating in a memo to the partnership group: "That non-editorial business executives were given a vote in the decision to remove it is an unacceptable and unprecedented breach of the editorial firewall, and turns Gawker's claim to be the world's largest independent media company into, essentially, a joke."

When asked by editorial staffers at Gawker to justify their votes in favor of removing the post, COO Scott Kidder and chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew explained they were simply supporting Denton's decision to pull the story.

In a memo this afternoon, Denton backed that up, arguing that it was his call: "Let me be clear. This was a decision I made as Founder and Publisher—and guardian of the company mission—and the majority supported me in that decision."

Gawker's editorial staffers recently voted 80-27 to unionize, joining the Writer's Guild of America, East. The news and gossip site is also currently battling a $100 million lawsuit brought by professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.