Relive Some Of Gawker’s Most Infamous Moments

Above: Popular website, Gawker, will cease operations next week
Above: Popular website, Gawker, will cease operations next week

Next week, the popular gossip website, Gawker will shut down after nearly fourteen years of operation. The media conglomerate filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, after losing a court battle to former American wrestler, Hulk Hogan. The event stemmed from Gawker’s exposure of a sex tape involving Hogan and a woman named Heather Clem, who was married at the time. The drama resulted in a Florida jury delivering in favour of Hogan, and an astronomical cash payout, which bankrupted Gawker’s entire operation. The plaintiff’s case was also financially supported by Peter Thiel, who himself, was the prominent figure of another controversial Gawker piece posted in 2007. In all, the lawsuit has forced the closure of Gawker’s main outlet, while Univision has swooped in and bought off the rest of its viable properties, like Kotaku, Jezebel, and Deadspin among others.

Gawker itself has yet to determine the fate of its archived work, or whether their articles will continue to live anywhere at all. The oftentimes questionable nature of Gawker’s work, fueled a steady influx of daily visitors. At its height, the website pulled in an estimated 23,000,000 visits every month. Having been founded on the principle of free speech, and seeking to peddle high-profile gossip, the site was home to some rather incendiary content.

Before Gawker closes its doors for good, we look back at some of the site’s most infamous moments. In the hopeful event that these articles are preserved online, we’ve linked the pieces for some take-home reading.


Peter Thiel

In 2007, Gawker published a piece entitled, “Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People”. The article profiled the powerful CEO’s business life, and alluded to his sexual orientation. Thiel responded to the article, claiming that Gawker was trying to ruin people’s lives. The Thiel-Gawker saga continues today, and ultimately has become a deciding factor in the fate of the gossip site.


Rob Ford

In 2013, Gawker started a crowdsourced collection of $200,000 in order to obtain the now infamous (and now published) Rob Ford “crack video”. The piece initially broke the story, and it caused a media storm that surrounded the Toronto mayor for the rest of his professional career. The story is frequently cited as sparking the downward spiral within the city’s municipal office.


Manti Te’o

The term “catfishing” has made its way into our public domain thanks, in part, to Gawker Media. In 2012, football star Manti Te’o, gained considerable amounts of attention due to his overcoming of personal tragedy. One of the tragedies in question, was the death of the player’s online girlfriend. In 2013, Gawker-owned sports blog, Deadspin, published an investigative report into the alleged death of Te’o’s girlfriend. Gawker itself picked up the piece, where it took the internet by storm. What resulted, was the bombshell that this woman was nonexistent, and simply the brainchild of a former acquaintance. The star was mercilessly mocked, and his public image has yet to truly recover from the incident.


Ku Klux Klan

Gawker writer, Hamilton Nolan, spent an uncomfortable weekend within the ranks of America’s Ku Klux Klan. The exposé showcased the organization’s racist subculture from an intimate perspective. It’s still very unsettling to read, yet sadly, increasingly relevant given America’s socio-political climate.


The Reddit Troll

The underbelly of Reddit has amassed a rather seedy reputation online. The forum’s worst peddler of trash, was a user named Violentacrez. Back in 2012, the troll was subject of a long form interview with Gawker, and the piece included details regarding his pedophilic, and alarmingly popular, “jailbait” thread.


The Watcher

While sites like 4Chan and Creepypasta harbour countless fan-made horror stories, Gawker published a real life account just last year. Entitled “The Watcher”, the piece told of a New Jersey family’s terrifying relationship with an anonymous peeping tom. The creep sent the new tenants of a Wakefield home, numerous unsettling letters. Claiming that he had them under constant surveillance, the “watcher” spied on them and their young children, which eventually escalated to him threatening all of their lives. What is even more disturbing, is that the previous owners of the house are said to have known of this perverse individual. The old owners still decided to put the house on the market. The new tenants filed a lawsuit against the previous owners, and the saga continues to this day.


Mitt Romney’s Tax Evasion

Former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is a very rich man. The problem with this statement, as Gawker discovered, is that there isn’t much evidence to understand why he is so incredibly wealthy. The website proceeded to investigate his holdings in offshore accounts in the cayman islands. The piece concluded with 950 internal audits, that pointed to a considerable amount of money laundering.


Hulk Hogan

It’s the piece that put the nail in Gawker’s coffin. Released in 2012, the excerpts of the Hulk Hogan sex tape led to the lawsuit which eventually bankrupted the media company. The details of the situation are increasingly messy, and equally cringe-worthy. Who knew that the WWE heavyweight would end one of the most buzz-worthy news outlets in the world?

Aidan D'Aoust

Aidan D'Aoust

Aidan is a writer from Toronto. His favourite things in the world are music, movies, and mini dachshunds. Give him a follow on Twitter at @aidandaoust, where he’ll also accept your mixtape submissions.

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