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Anorak | Christine O’Donnell’s Pubic Hair Turns Gawker Into A Tabloid Whore

Christine O’Donnell’s Pubic Hair Turns Gawker Into A Tabloid Whore

by | 29th, October 2010

GAWKER is in a spot of bother with its story on Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s pubic hair. The story is written the first person and details an alleged no-sex sexual encounter between the writer, then aged 25, and Tea Party favourite O’Donnell in her mid-thirties. The story is three years old.

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It’s the kind of thing you might read in the British tabloids. It’s a salacious, women-hating, sexually-driven smear. The US does not have a tabloid industry like in the UK. It’s tabloids are celebrity targeted and weekly. But Gawker fills the gap for a daily read pretty well. And now it has entered into  red-top territory:

O’Donnell’s camp released a statement saying:

“This story is just another example of the sexism and slander that female candidates are forced to deal with.”

That’s right. The tabloids hate ambitious women. If they are also attractive and sexually active, the tabloids will go for them. Gawker is just a tabloid doing what tabloids do.

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Gawker milks the attention, as it must, and sticks the statement up at the top of its site. It’s the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir approach to journalism – so long as it is offensive, bigoted and sensational and the media becomes the story – good job:

The National Organization for Women (NOW) on Thursday condemned the tabloid website Gawker for publishing an anonymous account: NOW issued a statement late Thursday stating that “sexist, misogynist attacks against women have no place in the electoral process, regardless of a particular candidate’s political ideology.”

“NOW repudiates Gawker’s decision to run this piece. It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O’Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere,” said NOW president Terry O’Neill.

The story goes:

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of what happened between the sheets that evening,” writes Anonymous, before going on to tell Gawker’s readers that “there were signs that she wasn’t very experienced sexually” and when her underwear came off, “I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by”.

At which point, according to Anonymous, O’Donnell informed him she was a “virgin” – actually she’s what the US Christian right terms a “born again virgin” – and intended to stay that way. “I said goodnight, rolled over, and went to sleep,” he writes.

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Animal NY puts it well:

Gawker publishes questionable items from time to time, but this postabout an anonymous guy’s un-night stand with Christine O’Donnell makes Perez Hilton look responsible.

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The Awl has letter Nick Denton, Gawker CEO sent to staff:

From: Nick Denton
Date: October 28, 2010 3:52:52 PM EDT
To: [EDITORIAL]
Subject: Getting out of the way of the story

http://beta.gawker.com/#5674353/i-had-a-one+night-stand-with-christine-odonnell

This Gawker scoop is an example of brilliant packaging. The composite image that shows up on the front is good; the pull quotes; etc.

But, best of all: the story was written in the first person. The journalist is a ghost-writer. The account is much more compelling as a result. As is the headline.

And this points to a general rule on the web. Writers are successful to the extent that they can sublimate their egotism and get out of the way of the story.

Sometimes a video or photo is undermined — not enhanced — by the length of the companion text.

That atmospheric video of the Iceland volcano works because it takes the viewer there; it and the track create a mood. A TV reporter friend of mine, when I told him how successful these clips were, moaned to me: but what do I do? He wants to be the guy at the rim of the volcano, saying: “This is Matt Wells, reporting from Iceland.”

But it’s better to get out of the way of the pictures.

Unless the story happened to you, or the piece revolves around your opinion, in which case get in the way as much as you can!

It’s tabloid journalism, readers. It sells ink. Gawker is not a liberal or right-wing organ – it’s a tabloid that wants to be noticed and make money…

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Posted: 29th, October 2010 | In: Key Posts, Politicians Comments (6) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink