Saturday, July 18, 2015

Double standard?

Everyone's talking about a story that Gawker published, then removed. The story concerned text messages between the CFO of Conde Nast, David Geithner (brother of Timmy) and a male escort called "Ryan." (I mention the client's name only because Talking Points Memo decided to publish it.) It appears that the escort made the texts available to Gawker out of spite, because he had asked Geithner for a favor and Geithner refused. This situation reeks of blackmail, or something unnervingly close to blackmail.

Geithner denies knowing the man at all.
The executive denied texting with Ryan in a statement to Gawker.

"I don’t know who this individual is. This is a shakedown," he said. "I have never had a text exchange with this individual. He clearly has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with me."

Prominent journalists, several of whom are openly gay, assailed Gawker for "gay-shaming" the executive and accused the website of helping Ryan blackmail him...
Had I been a Gawker editor, I would have argued against running such a story. That said, let us ask ourselves: Would there have been an outcry if the escort were female? Would the story have been removed if the escort were female?

Compare the current Gawker imbroglio to the way the press covered the case of Eliot Spitzer. Do we now live in a culture in which "hooker-shaming" is unacceptable if the hooker in question has a penis, but acceptable if the hooker has a vagina?

Of course, there's one important difference between the two cases. Spitzer was a public official while the CFO of Conde Nast barely qualifies as a public figure.

In the final analysis, I don't think that Gawker should have run such a tawdry story in the first place, and I'm glad that it was pulled. All I ask is that the same standards apply to situations involving heterosexuals.
The most pertinent ethical issue here is that Gawker may have helped consummate a blackmail scheme.
The farmers are not like you and me, Joseph. They have more social clout.
The good news is that Gawker may soon be no more. This seems to be the final nail that breaks the back of the Gawker coffin. They were already losing millions in ad revenue thanks to Gamergate, the journalistic ethics movement of which they are primary antagonists, and they had announced that they probably can't cover likely damages from the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit. And now the Gay Mafia are after them too.

Dave Geithner is, in fact, a public official. He is an officer of a publicly traded company.

It is a problem that the issue is outing a gay rather than blackmail, but you've got to take what you can get.

I don't think there's any hooker-shaming going on, though. The shaming is obviously aimed at Geithner, who is not a hooker. IT is a pity that the revenge-porn against Weiner and the similar outing of Spitzer didn't elicit the same response.
No, there's no double standard. The guy wasn't a public figure, and his arranging to see a prostitute (a plan he never carried through) had little to no public relevance. If Gawker had written the same story, but the prostitute was a woman, it still would've been heinous and outraged people. Maybe a little less, granted. But that's because when you expose a married man for seeing a male prostitute, you're not only catching him cheating but also outing him, either as gay or bisexual (I suspect this guy is more bi than gay) - and that can ruin families in a total way that mere cheating might not. Again, there's no double standard. It's that outing a man and exposing him as a cheater in one fell swoop is more devastating than just exposing him as a cheater, which would've been the situation had he been talking to a callgirl.

The Spitzer case was news. I think prostitution should be legal, but it ain't, and if a governor can break the law in his private life without the media reporting it, he's effectively above the law.

As for Weiner, the incessant dick puns were tawdry, no doubt. But the real problem was the way Weiner pretended he was hacked or framed. Had he just come clean, he might've stayed in Congress or at least retained some respectability. The story was the crazed lying from an elected official.
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