Gawker Media’s editorial staff aren’t going to quietly acquiesce to their new owner’s decision to retract old stories involved in legal controversy, judging by their swift response to two of these retractions.
On Tuesday, Deadspin, Gawker Media’s online sports news and gossip site, reposted two items that had been deleted by Univision’s management because they were the subject of a defamation lawsuit.
Deadspin published a new item about Mitch Williams, a former pro baseball pitcher and commentator, essentially as a pretext to repost two earlier, in-depth items about Williams. The older posts, originally published in 2014, detailed Williams’ alleged angry outbursts at Little League baseball games and other supposedly inappropriate behavior.
All of which were cited by Williams’ former employer, the MLB Network, as reasons for firing him in June 2014.
Williams subsequently sued both MLB Network and Gawker Media, accusing the former of breach of contract for the firing and the latter of defamation, contending that he wasn’t a public figure and hadn’t engaged in any of the behaviors described in the posts.
In June, a New Jersey state judge tossed Williams’ case against Gawker Media, issuing a summary judgment ruling that Williams was a public figure and that the posts were either substantially true or protected expressions of opinion.
The latest Deadspin post notes that the full text of the two older posts are still part of the court record in Williams’ on-going case against the MLB Network, and therefore, freely available to the public despite Univision’s decision to delete them.
As reported previously, Univision subsidiary Unimoda deleted six posts that had been published on Gawker Media sites, including Deadspin, Gizmodo and Jezebel, and which were the subject of lawsuits against Gawker Media at various points in time.
Gawker Media’s editorial union had sharply criticized Univision’s decision to delete the posts, stating: “It sets an alarming precedent both for our relationship with our new owners and for the business of journalism as a whole.”
Univision in this instance is known as the owner. The Gawker site staff are known as employees. This isn 't co plicated - someone is going to face dismissal if they keep this up - and it won't be Univision.
Yes, by any means necessary, let's make words that possibly offend vanish, replaced by those we feel are more in line with what we believe to be accurate.
Of course, the slippery bits come into play when deciding just who the "we" in all cases actually is. Or was. Or shall be at some future date when the definitions of "offense" and "accuracy" are changed, ... again.
Many years ago, Pogo had it right; "We have seen the enemy, and he is us."
Or, to put it another way; Just like cops, Great Plagues are never around when you need one.