Was the Gawker Story a Hoax?

A small but vocal minority suggests Gawker was tricked into running a now-unpublished gossip item.

CondeNast304x200Does it matter, at this point, whether the deleted Gawker item was true?

Much of the [external] outrage surrounding the July 16 item is tied to the idea of it being nobody’s business, Gawker or otherwise, what a C-level media executive chooses to do in their private, spare time. But lurking in the background, via Got News and a few other sites, is another potential problem for Nick Denton: the idea that the story might have no truth to it.

If that turns out to be the case, then “Ryan” in the pages of Gawker will be aligned with “Jackie” in the pages of Rolling Stone. The petition demanding that Gawker article author Jordan Sargent be fired is anchored to the idea that the article is true. But per Lloyd Grove’s initial Daily Beast coverage, here is what the accused person has said:

Geithner, a press-shy media executive with a low public profile, had disputed Gawker’s account, which shielded the identity of his “gay porn star” accuser – giving him the false name “Ryan” – and offered as evidence a supposed selfie that Geithner allegedly sent to “Ryan,” various real estate property records, a FED EX receipt (pixilated to blur “Ryan”’s true name and address in Texas), and supposed exchanges of text messages between “Ryan” and Geithner.

“I don’t know who this individual is,” Geithner stated in a denial that was included at the end of staff writer Jordan Sargent’s lengthy narrative, almost as an afterthought. “This is a shakedown,” Geithner continued. “I have never had a text exchange with this individual. He clearly has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with me.”

A commenter at the top of Got News writes that it doesn’t matter if the Gawker story is true or not. We beg to differ. If it turns out to be a hoax, then this was not just a failure of ethics at the Gawker end, but also a failure of fact-checking.

P.S. Got News screen grabbed and re-posted its entire text-message conversation with the person it alleges is “Ryan.” The thread is nothing short of insane and was echoed in a separate interview by this individual given to The Daily Caller.