In an essay published on Slate last week, Katie Roiphe aired this musty bit of media gossip: Emily Gould’s editor asked Ms. Roiphe to blurb her book, And the Heart Says Whatever. This despite the fact that Ms. Gould had called Ms. Roiphe a “big immature baby” in a post during her tenure at Gawker.
“Admittedly I did not find this piece very wounding, but some old-fashioned part of me still found it strange that she would send me her book for a blurb,” Ms. Roiphe wrote. “I thought if I had written ‘Joan Didion Is Big Immature Baby,’ I would probably not send a book to her for a blurb.”
(The last time we saw a Didion blurb was for Twelve, by Nick McDonnell, whose father, Terry McDonnell, used to edit Rolling Stone and convinced Hunter S. Thompson and Richard Price to blurb it as well.)
Glossing over the most recent, rather clever coverage Ms. Roiphe has received on Gawker, which was written in free verse by Hamilton Nolan, Ms. Roiphe focused Ms. Gould’s 2007 post as a point of entry to critique Gawker’s rhetorical laziness.
“What the Gawker ethos (i.e., the sneer) comes down to is this: Everyone is a phony, except presumably those writers at Gawker who labor tirelessly to point out this phoniness,” she wrote.
She added that Gawker assumes the pose of the “fashionably slothful outsider,” “brilliant and talented but too cool or sublimely untainted by anything as sordid and uninteresting as the ambition to try to do anything.”
Sounds accurate, if outdated, to us. In fact, the passage agreed perfectly with how Ms. Gould herself described the Gawker ethos in her 2008 New York Times Magazine mea culpa, “Blog Post Confidential.”
“Confronted with endless examples of unfairness, favoritism and just plain stupidity among New York’s cultural establishment, the Gawker ‘voice’ was righteously indignant but comically defeated, sighing in unison with an audience that believed nothing was as it seemed and nothing would ever really change,” Ms. Gould wrote. “Everyone was a hypocrite. No one was loved. There was no success that couldn’t be hollowed out by the revelation of some deep-seated inadequacy.”
Regardless, this is all ancient history. The ethos described by both writers would be unrecognizable to one introduced to Gawker in the past year. (“Revenge isn’t best served quite THAT cold,” Deadspin editor Tom Scocca tweeted of Ms. Roiphe’s tardy diss.) Today the site’s voice is fractured along bylines, ranging from John Cook’s FOIA fusillades to Richard Lawson’s ebullient fan fiction.
As for Ms. Gould, she gave up the autopilot snark more than three years ago, and has since and started Emily Books, a subscription e-book club fueled by Tumblr likes and good vibes.
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