Gawker writer Jordan Sergent included alleged text messages between Geithner and the escort, who did not reveal his name.
In a statement following the story’s removal, Gawker founder Nick Denton wrote, “It was an editorial call, a close call around which there were more internal disagreements than usual”.
The story was met with criticism nearly immediately after it was published, with journalists from at least two organizations (including The Huffington Post and Poynter) saying that it unnecessarily aired Geithner’s private life.
It claimed that he had offered to pay $2,500 for the meeting, and that the trip was cancelled when the porn actor attempted to get Geithner to help him out with a housing dispute.
Re/Code co-executive editor Kara Swisher also commented, tweeting: “An appalling act of gay shaming disguised as a story – thought we were way past this crap”. Tweets from former Gawker employees and articles from journalism organisations all lambasted the post. “I would not have chosen to run it as is”.
“This guy is not an antigay politician whose hypocrisy needs to be outed”.
A man who identified himself as practicing First Amendment law wrote on the Gawker story that he believes Sargent opened himself and Gawker up to a lawsuit. “Given the chance gawker will always report on married c-suite executives of major media companies f**king around on their wives”, he tweeted. That said, some standards still need to apply to anything you decide to publish, particularly when you’re writing about a non-public figure. Not everyone has to feel good about the truth.
Meanwhile, the backlash against Gawker is baffling to some writers who view the angle about a man married to a female in Larchmont, New York – as says David’s profile on Condé Naste – being newsworthy and relevant.
By early Friday afternoon, the story was removed. Reddit’s new CEO told readers this week that the site was never meant to be a bastion of free speech, a direct response to complaints from the site’s users after ex-CEO Ellen Pao curbed some hate speech on the site.