Online news and gossip magazine Gawker
on Friday took down a story outing the CFO of Conde Nast
after taking heavy criticism.
David Geithner, a married father of
three, has denied the allegations.
Gawker reported in its story,
Nast's CFO tried to pay $2,500 for a night with a gay porn star,
that Geithner planned to pay $2,500 to an anonymous gay porn star
during a trip to Chicago, but that he canceled the meet-up after the
escort attempted to get him to use his political connections to help
him resolve a housing dispute.
The escort, referred to as Ryan (not
his real name) in the article, told Gawker that he was evicted
in 2013 after his landlord discovered he was involved in porn. But
Ryan's attorney stated in legal documents that the reason his client
was evicted was because Ryan, who suffers from PTSD, had broken the
building's rules by owning an emotional assistance dog.
Ryan, whose discrimination claim was
declined last year by the Department of Housing and Development
(HUD), wanted Geithner, the brother of former Treasury Secretary
Timothy Geithner, to use his political connections to restart his
Geithner told Gawker in a text:
“I don't know who this individual is. This is a shakedown. I have
never had a text exchange with this individual. He clearly has an
ulterior motive that has nothing to do with me.”
Reaction to the story on social media
was overwhelmingly negative.
“[T]hought we were way past this
crap,” Re/Code co-excutive editor Kara Swisher messaged.
“I'm a fan of Gawker &
several of its journalists,” out reporter Glenn Greenwald tweeted,
“but that article is reprehensible beyond belief. It's deranged to
Reader Mike Johnson wrote on Gawker's
Facebook page: “This guy is not an antigay politician whose
hypocrisy needs to be outed. Why would anyone care if he wants to
hire an escort?”
Gawker founder Nick Denton
explained in a post why the story came down, saying that he
“regretted” its publication.
“The story involved extortion,
illegality and reckless behavior, sufficient justification at least
in tabloid news terms,” he
wrote. “The account was true and well-reported. It concerns a
senior business executive at one of the most powerful media companies
on the planet.”
“Gawker is no longer the
insolent blog that began in 2003. It does important and interesting
journalism about politicians, celebrities and other major public
figures. This story about the former Treasury Secretary’s brother
does not rise to the level that our flagship site should be
“The point of this story was not in
my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his
family. Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the
first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason
other than factual error or legal settlement,” he added.