Gawker founder Nick Denton: Gossip helped take down Harvey Weinstein and many more

Hardly a day has gone by in the past week in which another major figure in media, politics, or entertainment has not become the subject of a sexual harassment scandal. 

And almost all of those stories were on Gawker years ago. 

“Gossip, though it draws those motivated by envy and resentment, is also a tool of the powerless. It’s a mechanism for coordination,” wrote Gawker founder Nick Denton in a blog post on Monday

The post is notable because Denton has recently kept a low profile recently. Once a fixture of the New York media scene, he’s been under the radar since Gawker declared bankruptcy and was sold to Univision. 

Yet Gawker’s previous work has taken on new significance after stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker about Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates for women to go public with their stories about other powerful men. 

As Denton notes, many of these men and their behavior was covered by Gawker years earlier, including Weinstein, fashion photographer Terry Richardson, and film director James Toback, among others. 

In the post, Denton offers a reminder that gossip can be used for both good and bad ends, and has its risks. Those risks ended up sinking Gawker when professional wrestler Hulk Hogan successfully sued the company for publishing a clip of a sex tape he was in. 

Denton points to harassment as one major area where gossip has been positive, providing a way for these stories to be told to a broader audience.

“They say that news is the first draft of history; well, as we used to say at Gawker, gossip is the first draft of news,” Denton wrote. “The official channels have long failed those with allegations of harassment; the unofficial channels, largely internet word-of-mouth, have finally prodded news organizations and employers into action.”

RIP, Gawker.